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The "What is Different?" Lesson is part of the full, Engineering Management Fundamentals 101 course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Jem talks about the first 30 days of being a manager in engineering management, specifically about the different perspectives and changes that occur, such as understanding the organizational chart, attending staff meetings, knowing team members' salaries, and having a calendar filled with meetings. Jem also mentions the importance of building relationships with peer managers and adjusting to the new role and expectations.


Transcript from the "What is Different?" Lesson

>> So let's talk about surviving engineering management. You've made this transition, you've figured out the career ladder, you figure out you wanna be intentional, or you're accidentally a manager, and you're like I'm struggling. Let's talk about your first 30 days, we'll talk about mistakes to avoid, mistakes I've made, and talk about managing up a little bit.

In your first 30 days of being a manager, what's different? Your perspectives is different, it's not immediate, but it happens really slowly. You realize, hey, we're part of a business, my team is one, team out of many, many teams. I'm one manager out of many, many managers, and my manager has a manager, and they have a manager and you start looking up.

I think the different perspective for me came in terms of the org chart, where as a software engineer, I didn't care about the organization chart, like where the team sit, who they report to, which vertical or domain they're in. Now, it's really important cuz I need to know which manager I need to talk to.

You'll hear names and teams, and you're like, what do they do? I need to know that pretty quickly, so I had the org chart bookmarked so I know who people are talking about. My favorite perspective is staff meetings where managers talk to other managers or directors and things like that, and you're like, what goes on in those?

It's really not that interesting, [LAUGH] there's no great secrets you uncover in staff meetings. To me it was always a great mystery, I was like, what do managers talk about? And usually it's boring stuff, things like, hey, I'm hiring soon, do you all know anybody who can fill this role?

My manager would be like, hey, this deadline is coming up to our open enrollment, make sure you talk to your team about make sure they get help, sign up for healthcare. It's a lot of boring stuff like that, it's not usually that spicy or exciting. I was a little disappointed, honestly, I thought this is gonna be like, I'm in the inner circle, but it's really not that exciting, all right?

A fun one was, you don't know how much money everybody makes on your team. Doesn't really change anything, you're like, interesting, but it's just an interesting thing that you can look up now. Just a different perspective on how much everybody is getting paid, and chances are it's gonna be different, it's probably gonna surprise you.

You don't have to do anything about it, but just something you know. Another one is your calendar is all meetings now, it starts off slowly, your manager's probably gonna add a bunch of calendars, invites, your job now is to set up one-on-ones, your job's to set up team meetings.

Your job is to meet with partners and stakeholders, now the calendar is slowly filling up. But your perspective on kind of what your role is, what everybody on team is doing. What you should be doing is just totally different now in your first 30 days, then the longer you go on, the more it shifts and shifts and shifts.

Anybody who's made the transition to speak accurately to your prospective change?
>> Yes, although, I think we're in the midst of doing year-end reviews, and it came to my attention that some folks don't have access to how much everyone makes which was odd.
>> Interesting.
>> I would add to being in meetings where you're creating policies, it's boring but it's fascinating [LAUGH].

>> To add on to that, you're in it, you're added to a lot of meetings cuz you're now the leader of the team. And you have no idea what's going on, cuz you have no idea what they're talking about, you're just like, yeah. People might ask stuff of you and you're like, let me get back to you on that, there's a lot of stuff you don't know.

Because as a manager things just takes longer to enact, there's projects in place that were already happening that you weren't aware of, and now you are, and it's probably towards the end or in the middle. There could be big announcements coming, like a reorganization or maybe they're discussing someone, maybe is on a performance plan, that usually doesn't happen at staff level.

But maybe they're thinking about creating another team and hiring another manager, you now know all this stuff and you're just like, trying to filter out what you need to know what's important and what you can probably backburner. It's tricky, it's something you have to adapt really quickly. At a team level, what's different is your managers now one level up, generally.

So that means the things they talk about in the context of shares, it's very different. When you're just dealing with your manager, they have a particular experience or context they wanna share a perspective. Now your managers is one level up, the way they talk about things, their priorities are very different at this level.

The way they think about strategy is very different cuz they have a bunch of other managers and teams reporting to them, not just individual contributors. And we talked about meetings, now you're responsible for these meetings now, you should set up one on ones with your team. You should do that within the first week, find out what's going on, find out how they're feeling.

And your team, we call your first team, those are actually other managers who report to another manager. So you need to befriend them and find out what they're working on. Sometimes there's things you can't be friends all the time with your team, I think you should if you can figure out how to make that work, but sometimes you can't.

And that's okay, I don't force it, but you should make friends, [LAUGH] it's a lonely job, and it only gets lonely if you don't have any friends or people to talk to. So those peer managers become really important, probably teams you'd never even cared about four now you should care about them.

And another thing that's different, especially if you're taking over the team of people you knew or worked with, it's a weird feeling. It's weird cuz one Friday you're a software engineer on the team, it's a regular person, the next you're now a manager. And nothing's changed, but kind of everything's changed at the same time.

And it's a weird feeling, and it takes time to get over, especially if you're transitioning for people who knew you before and now you're a manager, cuz you're like, are they expecting more of me? Should I dress differently, should I wear button downs now, should I roll up my sleeves to show how hard I'm working?

It's a different feeling in the first 30 days.

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