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Growing under an inexperienced manager

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [ICT3] at Apple2 years ago

My manager is relatively inexperienced (<1 year as a manager, and only a few more years of overall work experience than me). While they have a lot of expertise as a developer in the domain that we work on, when coming them to my previous manager, I don’t think that they have a ton of experience in growing and promoting people, esp. in a deliberate or structured way. How do I make sure that I continue growing, and receive the right growth opportunities and constructive feedback?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    This question hits home for me as ~85% of managers I've had were new managers. They were pretty much all great people, but being inexperienced managers, they had a hard time giving me concrete growth advice.

    From my experience with 10+ managers, the main skill that new managers lack is proactively growing their reports. A formal growth plan will often times never cross their mind. This means that you need to be as proactive as possible with your personal growth. Here are some ways to do that:

    1. Create a solid agenda for all your manager 1:1s - If you don't go into these meetings with a plan, they will generally turn into status update meetings when it comes to new managers or worse, awkward silence. Write down an agenda 24+ hours before, and then ping your manager about it and politely ask them to read it before the meeting. This should go into your running 1:1 meeting doc - If you don't have one of those, make one. Don't be afraid to take 15-45 minutes writing down this agenda - Manager 1:1s are some of the most important and impactful time you will ever spend across your career if leveraged properly.
    2. Find an engineering mentor - You want to prevent your manager from being a single point of failure for your growth. Even if your manager is great, there's really no such thing as having too much support. Find an engineer on the higher-end of mid-level or senior that's close to you, either on your team or a sister team. Check out the Q&A about finding a proper mentor in the links below.
    3. Seed your own growth plan - Don't just go to your manager and ask them for a growth plan: That can be easily be an overwhelming ask for them if they're a newer manager. Start the doc yourself and add some ideas on lofty goals that seem "senior engineer-like" to you. I go into this more in depth in the linked Q&A below about creating a path to senior. I also recommend just going through the other Q&As asked by mid-level engineers in Taro in general.

    Related resources: