About 2.5 years ago, I decided to change track in my career.
I was a software tester, quality engineer and a software developer in test for 10 years. Basically, I wrote code daily. It gave me the feeling of helping our customers on whichever projects I worked on, ensuring that they had a seamless experience. Towards the end of this decade, I felt I needed a greater sense of purpose. I was in a team with high friction at the time, and instead of wanting to get out, I wanted to help create a harmonious environment.
Although I enjoy writing code, I felt I wanted to do something bigger. Something that would make an impact on people’s lives. Often my friends tell me that I am great at creating new connections, and not just as ‘people who can help me get my work done’, but as individuals. What drives them. Where they are in their career etc.
This is when I decided to switch to a managerial route. One colleague at the time said to me, ‘Try it, and see how you feel. It may not give you happiness.’
Eighteen months later, I can say I am content with my choice. This time has been nothing short of a roller coaster. I have worked with all sorts of individuals. People who are facing difficulty in their performance, people who are in roles they are unsure of, people who have young families, people who have health issues. And people who are outright abusive.
People management is an emotional journey every single day. Some days are full of laughter. And some days I want to sit in a corner and scream.
I am beginning to develop some very strong principles as I am progressing.
I encourage everyone to share whatever they want with me. It’s always about their lives. And work is just a fraction of it.
I trust my colleagues by default when I start working with them. They do not have to work on gaining my trust. If proven otherwise, we talk about it. There are always two sides to every story.
There is no room for disrespect when working with me. Being a woman in technology is hard. Very hard. We feel like we have to prove our point without being aggressive every time. If it’s a member of the opposite sex having the same discussion, it’s opinion and not aggression. And this is the struggle a lot of us go through everyday unfortunately.
Recently, I have had a lot of individuals confide in me with their joys and pain. I have had people who broke down because of their personal struggles. Things like these always affect our lives. It affects my life too. We all need time and space to help deal with external factors even when we are at work. You can never deliver if your brain is preoccupied. I think it’s not easy to confide in someone you have only known for a few months. I think I may be doing something right if I am enabling my reports to confide in me.
There is a great sense of purpose in people management. It’s joyful to see people who are struggling turn around and take control. It’s also amazing to hear things like, ‘Can you be my mentor?’, ‘You are so insightful’, ‘Thank you for always being there to understand my situation’. It is also painful to see someone struggling. It’s very important to coach them and help them understand what they really want out of the situation.
There are tremendous life lessons in this role, and I can safely say I am loving it!