A few months ago I shared my thoughts on “Why Managers Should Continue To Code“. I had ended that with a statement asking you to take action, but did not outline any strategies for you to follow. In this article, I will share some of my strategies with you, and also give you a recent example of how I was able to put this into practice at TripCase and in my own personal life. Hopefully this gives you a good starting point for your own coding adventure.
Strategies For Managers To Continue To Code
Assuming that you are as out of touch as I was, you will need to start at the learning step. Before you can embark on this step, you will need to answer the question: “What Do I Learn?” This is not as simple as it sounds. Simply learning what your team is already good at is not advisable. My suggestion would be to look for gaps in the current knowledge on the team, and see if there is something that is of mutual interest. Once you have identified this, then you can start working through the following steps:
Carve out a specific duration a few days a week, even if it is only 30 minutes every other day. My personal preference is to get this done first thing in the morning before getting to work. This ensures that my normal activities do not get in the way. The important thing is to make sure it’s something to which you can commit.
If you are an active learner, you will need to figure out a way to put your learning into practice. It is rare that you can learn new technology without actually putting it into practice. So finding a hobby project that you can hack on is key. It is even better if you can find a project that adds value to your team and the business.
Finding a way to share the new knowledge with the team to get feedback is the next step. This will help you learn whether or not you made a good choice. At TripCase, we have regular code readings and “lunch and learn” meetings, which give me the opportunity to present what I am working on to the larger team for feedback.
This is an optional step, but there is nothing like shipping software. I would encourage you to find a way to actually contribute to a release. This will give you a better understanding of all the moving parts from processes, to people, to technology. You can read about my latest project, TripTime, here.
These steps have become second nature to me now, and I do not have to conscientiously think about them anymore. In case you have not figured out, none of this would be possible or important without the right culture and support of my team. I am extremely thankful for the encouragement and support that I receive. It is not always easy to have such a culture, so I’ll revisit how to foster that culture and community in a future post.