Degraded skills

A challenge many engineering managers face is how to keep their technical skills intact. These start degrading slowly over time. I noticed this in my third year at Babylon Health - when I was managing close to 25 people. Some of the technical work being done was alien to me. There were two options for me. Sacrifice something else (usually a team multiplier) or spend half a day or more understanding a particular approach. This might be an odd thing to say, but choosing the latter didn’t make my job easier, or made me a better manager. There were fundamentals that I understood and contributed to. Things like the overall architecture, its different components, how testing was done, how releases were cut. These things I had a firm grasp on. How a piece of UI was made? Not really. I was more interested in scalable localization and if accessibility was well done. I also cared that if the approach was easy to pick up by new members, and if we had at least a few people understanding how everything worked deeply.

Keeping the technical skills sharp is tough. Especially when you have a family and small kids - there isn’t a lot of time outside work. But also the energy levels go down as one ages. I don’t have a good solution for this problem, but I will carry on searching for it.