Episode 41: From Individual Contributor to Manager with David Ashe (Part 2)

Enjoy the Vue

Welcome back to part two of this discussion on transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager. In part one, the panel talked about holacracies, which are flat organizations, and whether or not CTO should code. In this episode, the panel, composed of Tessa, Ari, and guest panelist Amal Hussein, and special guest, David Ashe, talk about manager’s roles in retention and career growth within a company. David talks about the issue with job titles, Amal weighs in on the retention problem, and the panel discusses whether or not they would want to transition into a management role any time soon. This episode also covers the confluence between technical skills and people skills, why silence might actually be positive feedback, and why a team that suctions without you is better than bottleneck hero culture, as well as the importance of empathy, avoiding burn out, and why David will never ask, “Is it done yet?” Tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Ben kicks things off by saying it’s important not to take manager positions for the sake of advancement in our own careers.
  • David talks about the issue of job titles, and the retention problem that tech companies have.
  • Amal weighs in on the retention problem – it can be resolved by having a good manager.
  • The importance of retention and having a constant feedback culture within organizations.
  • Management is an art, but it is also a science – it’s more complicated than engineers think.
  • Ari weighs in on whether or not she want to shift into a manger role – she says she is torn.
  • While someone can get a PhD in management, managers very rarely do – it tends to be the hot shots that get promoted into the role.
  • It’s rare to find someone with strong technical skills and good people management skills.
  • It’s common to see managers go from IC to manager, back and forth, because of burn out.
  • How manager’s know they are doing a good job: David is trying to ensure that people on his team are improving or getting promoted.
  • Why silence may actually be profound positive feedback that you’re being a great manger.
  • You should have a team that operates effectively without you, not a bottleneck hero culture.
  • Ari believes the most important qualities of a good manager are empathy and understanding.
  • Tessa explains why she wouldn’t want to be a manager again soon, because of the overload.
  • David shares his perspective from when he was an IC, what he needed from his manager.
  • Amal’s picks include TV shows, I May Destroy You and Lovecraft Country on HBO.
  • Ari’s pick is a Netflix movie called Freak Show, a gender-nonconforming coming-of-age story.
  • Tessa’s picks: Malinda Herman, Mike and Maddie on YouTube and a font called cardigraph.
  • David recommends hey.com and Dating Around on Netflix, while Ben’s picks are a book, and a game called Hades.


  • “Take the time to invest in your learning. If you are a new manager, take manager training. A lot of companies don't offer it, a lot of companies do. Try to get your company to pay for a formal training. Read books. Find a mentor. You're going to need peer mentors, people that have been doing this job for longer than you within your company. It's also really good to get outside perspective, so you know you're not echo chambering bad management cultures.” — @nomadtechie [0:06:39]
  • “Unfortunately, if you're a great manager, people may in fact leave faster, because you're going to develop them, and the market is going to scoop them up. You may not have those feedback cycles where, when they leave, they would say that you've been a great manager. But maybe not. Silence might in fact be profound positive feedback, you're being a great manager.” — David Ashe [0:18:17]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Special Guests: Amal Hussein and David Ashe.

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