In my current role, I might get an opportunity to transition to a people manager (engineering manager) as against continue the path of individual contributor (IC).
Since I have always been an IC, I am not sure if this is the right career move for me. How would I make a decision one way or another?
I have spoken to a few team members and the sentiment towards being a people manager is negative. One has to be able to deliver through the team and hold the team accountable, one has to be detached from coding to a large extent, one has to solve inter-personal issues, one has to worry about attrition, one has to be able to hire good candidates (sell your team), one has to fight for challenging projects for your team etc.
What are some frameworks to think about this?
Great question! To me, the framework to decide is very clear: Ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy working with people. How do you react to the following?
If succeeding at these activities brings you joy and is very fulfilling to you, then that's a good sign you would make a great engineering manager. If they're just frustrating, then you should probably stay as an engineering IC.
As a side note, being an IC probably has more scope in the current economy. Managers expand their scope by hiring and most companies aren't hiring right now. However, there is no shortage of complex, high-impact technical problems to solve. Something to keep in mind.
Here's some other good resources about engineering management direction as well:
It comes down to the types of problems you like solving.
Personally, I lean very heavily towards taking the role and verifying it for yourself. Relying on second hand info is difficult since you're going to experience it in a different way than the people you are talking to.
I should caveat that I'm probably very biased because I've been a manager way longer than I've been an IC and genuinely enjoy it. You could weigh the risk to doing so vs. not by applying the "fear setting" framework, which I'll summarize below (search Tim Ferriss for the source and more details).
Especially, if #3 is a two-way door, where you can go back to being an IC if it doesn't work out for you, consider taking on the challenge since worst case you'll learn valuable skills that actually make you a better IC (having the POV of a manager as an IC is highly underrated).
If you don't want to take the plunge right away, here are a few resources you could check out to gain a better perspective on the type.
Feel free to DM me on Slack if you want to explore this topic further.