How and When to Advance from a Developer to a Management Position

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

By Shahla Aliyeva


As a professional, you're probably familiar with the so-called Peter Principle, which holds that employees are promoted based on their performance in their current position, not on their potential to excel in a new job. In your career as a junior developer, chances are that you may be promoted to become a manager once your employer feels you've turned all the stones in your current role.

Now, while developers may perform excellently in coding, that does not mean that they will excel in management positions. As a matter of fact, management is not the thing for everyone, and that's why you may find it difficult to transition. If your desire to become a manager is motivated by financial returns, then you may become disappointed somewhere along the way. Yes, you may earn a bumper pay packet, but that alone won’t necessarily keep your spirits up forever. Hence, deciding to jump into management is something that you should think about carefully.


Important Considerations

Before making a decision to move from a junior developer to a managerial position, the following are some essential questions to consider.


Are You Ready to Give Up Coding as Your Primary Task?

Letting go is perhaps the most challenging thing when making a decision to dive into management. As a junior developer, your work is all about writing code. Becoming a development manager means entering an entirely new world where you may not write any code. Just because you answered the question above in the affirmative does not necessarily mean the transition will be a walk in the park. Letting go may take time; you could compare it to an addict trying to quit drinking. You will need to resist the desire to jump at every minor technical hiccup. While being a manager does not entirely prevent you from writing code or dealing with technical issues, you shouldn't be delving too deeply into the developer nitty gritty of it. If you're intervening all the time, you may become guilty of micromanaging.


Are You Motivated by Money?

As said earlier in this article, if your journey from junior developer to development manager is motivated by money, then you may be treading a dangerous path. One question you must ask yourself is whether you would still continue to work in the same spirit in your role as a manager if your employer was forced to reduce your salary.

If you are motivated by the desire to serve people, lead others, and help the company achieve its objectives, then nothing should stop you from giving management a shot!


Are You a Good Communicator?

As a manager, you will be spending the better part of your day talking to different people, both within and outside the company. Your command of language should be good enough to enable you to communicate with your team of developers and other people effectively. You will also be receiving numerous phone calls and emails. These skills are crucial to being a good manager!


Your Performance Will be Measured Based on Your Team's Performance: Are You Ready for This?

As a developer, your performance is measured based on individual merits. This is not so with managers. If the team performs poorly, the manager's performance will obviously be reduced and vice versa. Thus, if you’re ready to drive a team and take responsibility for their performance, whether this is positive or negative, then this type of role would be well suited to you. 


Junior Developer

A developer's expertise lies in writing code to build apps and websites. While junior developers usually work under the supervision of a senior developer, they may be involved in every stage of a project, from start to finish. If you're a junior developer, you will most likely be meeting customers to understand their preferences and needs while working on their projects. If you feel you have rendered enough service in the junior developer's role, you could seek a higher position, which is a senior developer's position.


Management Position

Traditionally, a management position is the next big thing after the developer's role. Developer managers focus on various different roles and responsibilities, including the management of teams of developers and large-scale projects. It is also the responsibility of a manager to hire and fire developers. Since managers deal with lots of different people, they need to have strong leadership and communication skills. They also need to have excellent mediation skills to help with conflict resolution.


How and When to Transition from a Developer to a Manager

You have had enough time working in code mines as a developer, and your employer wants to reward you with a management position. As mentioned earlier, the implication for this transition is that you will give up writing code and focus on such things as performance reviews and Excel spreadsheets. Looking at it from this standpoint, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Well, depending on the company where you're working, you may have to pass through senior developer and lead developer positions before eventually stepping into management. Some companies also provide a training program to prepare developers for management positions.


Irrespective of the path you follow from developer to management position, there are certain things you must do to make your transition a smooth one. For instance, you may need to get a mentor and possibly acquire some leadership training if you have none. Leave your arrogance at home and learn from those who know what management entails. Once you have made all the essential considerations and acquired what is required of a manager, you can take up your new role with absolute confidence. But don't forget to update your management skills regularly to ensure you remain as current and relevant as possible.



If you're a developer with the desire to step into management but don't know how and when to do it, then hopefully this guide has helped you. All you need to do is to make careful considerations to determine if you are equal to the task and get some mentorship or training. However, don't forget that management, like any other position, comes with its own challenges, which you will need to deal with. If your team excels, you excel, and if it fails, you fail too. 


 “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

-- Lyndon B. Johnson