How to Improve Technical Skill as a First Line Manager
As you know, a manager at line level is frequently involved in a lot of meetings, such as line topic discussion meeting with other team leaders, project management synchronization meeting, sprint planning and sprint review meeting, interview talk with new candidates, etc. It seems that my 8 hours are cut into pieces. I cannot find time longer than 1 hour for code reading, or debugging. Here are some proposals on how to better use my work time as a technical line manager.
1 Pair work with subordinates who comes across impediments.
We have daily standing meeting every morning. In the meeting, each team member tell others what they have achieved last day, what they plan to do in the following day and what impediment they encountered. The last question is very important for me. I will listen carefully and ask for the detail after the meeting.
Then I will follow the problem. If this problem blocks them again in the coming day, I will try to find some time to pair work with this team member. What I do is sitting together with him, and asking what he have tried and what he plans to do. And then I analyze the problem and the actions have done. It is quite often that at some degree there is some systematically missing point. That usually is the key element for solving the problem.
2 Review design and code
The programmers usually focuses on implementation while underestimate the importance of design and documentation. I frequently inspect the design description from the developers. It is important to find the missing point from the design. Besides document review, code review is also very good point for estimating the code quality and checking who is implementing with good qualily sense. In the review record, you may find some one treat other's code carefully and provide many constructive comments. This is also good materials for yearly personal performance appraisal.
3 Work for small tasks
As line manager's time is scattered over different kind of meetings and discussions, it is hard to allocatge large time amount to focus on difficult problems. So it is possible to claim some small tasks such as investigation on new technology, developing small tool to improve test and configuration management.
4 Read related books
In order to provide guidance to team member on design principle, it is necessary that a line manager should continuously learn good design patterns, code quality practice, domain knowleges. Therefore, it is better to allocate time to read books.