Product manager addressing team in stand up

If you've been in the tech industry for a few years, you know that things can get complicated—especially when you're taking your first steps into team management. Mastering technical skills is one thing... but when you're dealing with people, you need to also adopt key "soft skills" such as empathy and communication.

Dice’s new Optimizing Your Tech Career ebook offers some tips for anyone who's beginning to explore that management track, or even just taking on a few more management responsibilities as part of their normal workflow. Here's a sampling of its advice:

Basics of Management

Whether or not you’re thinking of a management track for your career, chances are good that, if you excel in your early roles, you’ll be considered for additional management responsibilities after a few years in the tech industry. Management can take many forms; you might be asked to temporarily guide a small team if your boss is out on leave, for example, or you might have to direct contractors or freelancers who are performing some temporary work for your organization.

Keep in mind that, while all managers are expected to be leaders, not all leaders are managers. Many tech companies expect their senior technologists to act as leaders within the organization, regardless of their formal title. Even if you have no intention of leading a large team as a project manager or executive, it’s never a bad time to build up your leadership skills, as you’ll inevitably need them during your career. Fortunately, there’s no one secret to good leadership; these are skills anyone can learn through application and repetition.

  • Active Listening: Carve out time to really listen to the concerns of those reporting to you. People recognize when you’re hearing them, and they’ll feel more positively about you and your suggestions. (Active listening is a vital skill for everyone, not just managers.)
  • Become an Expert Communicator: Always try to imagine how team members and other stakeholders will react to what you’re saying. How can you modify your message to appeal to them more directly? How can you articulate your requests in a way that’s easily understandable and rooted in research and data? How can you communicate you and your team’s successes in a way that shows the strongest possible impact on the organization?
  • Focus on Results: Whether you’re building products for a consumer audience or working to improve an organization’s tech stack, you always have a “customer” of some sort. What results do those customers want? Good management means keeping those front of mind.
  • Positivity is Key: As you progress in your career, you’ll find yourself in difficult situations from time to time. A positive mindset really can mean the difference between success and failure.

For even more on management, applying for jobs, negotiating salary, and nailing that next big promotion at every stage of your tech career, check out the Optimizing Your Tech Career e-book.