It's not always easy. I often get asked by senior developers if they should pick the management track or not. The management track is often used as a salary jump and not as the right career path. This often happens in companies that do not have any defined roles for principal or staff engineers.
But should you become a manager? First, you need to answer some questions.
1) Are you ready to give up coding?
While you might find the time here and there to do some actual coding, you will soon realise that it is not a productive use of your time. You should instead spend time enabling those in your team who code. You will still utilise your coding knowledge as a manager but in a very different way, and you need to be ready for that before you say yes.
2) Do you enjoy interpersonal activities?
When you change the track, you also change your main day-to-day tasks. It will differ from company to company on what exactly those tasks are, but for me, the tasks have always included:
- Weekly 1:1 with team members
- Quarterly feedback reviews
- Coordination and planning meetings
- Reporting to stakeholders
It's fine not to already be a master of these skills, but if you already know you don't like these kinds of tasks, then it's a red flag.
I have often seen senior engineers accept the role because it seemed like the only way forward in career progression. In the end, they hated the work. Remember to reflect on that before you accept.
3) Do I know any people who went through the same transition?
Talking directly to someone who has been through the same decision process can be tremendously helpful. This could be your existing manager, a colleague or a friend outside of work.
If you do not know anyone, I can highly recommend the free mentoring service The Mentoring Club. Here you can find a mentor with management experience and book them for a session.
Still not sure? Then I highly recommend reading a few chapters in The Manager's Path. It helped me make the decision.