March 29, 2018.
Chatting with an engineering manager, they mentioned a low-grade, ambient anxiety around their impact, which they'd felt since moving into a role focused on supporting managers rather than leading a team directly. I think this resonates with everyone's transition to managing managers: it's an unsettling period when you lose access to what used to make you happy–partnering directly with a team–and haven't found new sources of self-worth in your work.
This isn't the only reason this transition is hard, it's also hard because a lot of your skills and habits stop working well. The skill that scales the worst is outworking your problems.
This is particularly frustrating, because your ability to put your head down and solve gritty, important problems was probably a big part of how you were promoted. Now it's the wrong answer to most of your problems. This isn't because it's bad behavior, just because it's too inefficient to accomplish the breadth and quantity of things you need to get done.
If you're sitting at the post-transition moment, detached from the work you loved, and with your instincts driving you into a pile of work you can't make a dent in, I have a tool that's been useful for me and might be useful for you!
For every problem that comes your way–an email asking for a decision, a production problem, a dispute around oncall, a request to transfer teams–you must pick one of three options:
No matter what problem comes your way, you're not allowed to solve them any other way! Give it a try for a week, and see if it helps you navigate your role more effectively.