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Day Two Cloud 116: Emotional Intelligence, Hard Conversations, And Other Essential Management Skills

Today on Day Two Cloud we talk about moving into management, the complications that come with it, and the professional and emotional skills that can help you succeed at it. Our guest is Shelley Benhoff, an author, speaker, and Pluralsight instructor. Shelley also runs her own technical training business, Hoffstech. She has twenty years of experience in IT. She started as a software developer and advanced into management roles.

We discuss the challenges and pitfalls of management, why emotional intelligence is a critical skillset and how to develop it, why managers need to be able to have hard conversations, and tips to help you decide if management is the right career path for you.

Sponsor: Zesty

Zesty provides an autonomous cloud experience by leveraging advanced AI technology to manage the cloud for you. Our AI reacts in real-time to capacity changes and enables companies to maximize cloud efficiency, reduce AWS bill by more than 50%, completely hands-free. It’s cloud on auto-pilot. Find out how to spend less and do more at zesty.co.

Show Links:

Hoffstech

@SBenhoff – Shelley Benhoff on Twitter

Shelley Benhoff on LinkedIn

Shelley Benhoff on Pluralsight

Tiaras and Tech

Day Two Cloud 114: Successfully Transitioning From A Tech Role To Management – Packet Pushers

Day Two Cloud 107: Making The Management Mistake – Packet Pushers

Transcript:

[00:00:00.000] – Ned
Zesty provides an autonomous cloud experience by leveraging advanced AI technology to manage the cloud for you. Their AI reacts in realtime to capacity changes and enables companies to maximize cloud efficiency and reduce their AWS bill by more than 50% completely handsfree. Cloud on autopilot with Zesty companies can spend less and do more. Check them out at Zesty dot Co.

[00:00:31.710] – Ned
Welcome to Day Two Cloud. Today we’re going to be talking about moving into management and how that’s not always the easiest transition. Our guest today, Shelley Benhoff has lived it for real, and she’s also written some courses about it.

[00:00:47.240] – Ned
She’s a fellow Pluralsight author, and she also has her own company, HoffsTech. So she’s going to be leading us through sort of what are the good things that you should develop as a manager and maybe some pitfalls you might run into as you climb the management ladder. What jumped out to you, Ethan?

[00:01:04.510] – Ethan
There was a theme for me Ned, in this episode, which is developing emotional intelligence. In other words, those of us that are really good with the technology and we can talk to the APIs and make the things happen and fix it when it’s broken and all that kind of suck when it talks, when it comes to talking to humans, we’re not that great at it and we lack empathy a lot of times. And Shelley was really great at explaining how to develop that skill set, that emotional intelligence skill set.

[00:01:31.250] – Ethan
And I really appreciated that about her.

[00:01:33.100] – Ned
I just want to know why humans don’t have an API. Come on, seriously. Well, enjoy this conversation with author and speaker Shelley Benhoff.

[00:01:43.910] – Ned
Shelley, welcome to Day Two Cloud and hey, let’s start with you. Hello, fellow human. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your career journey, especially as is germaine to the topic, your experience with managers or being a manager.

[00:01:59.380] – Shelley
Thank you. I’m so glad to be here. I have been in tech for over 20 years and I started out as a developer. And like many, many developers who interact with humans kind of naturally, I was tapped for leadership and management and stuff like that pretty early on. This is the first time I really managed a sort of project slash team. I was in my mid twenties and it did not go well.

[00:02:38.080] – Ethan
Qualify that statement. Were you being sarcastic when you said you were good as a developer, at being able to communicate with humans, or you actually struggled with that.

[00:02:45.300] – Shelley
Oh, of course everybody struggles with that. It’s a normal personality that devs have where we like to code alone. Like get some work done, but talking to people, holding meetings and training. Actually, I started training people on my own programs that I wrote. You know in the early days of tech we didn’t have separate jobs like a developer was, you know, front end, back end, DBA. You just had to do everything. So training like I was petrified. I did not want to do this. And I had to teach this program I wrote, and I just did it like I outlined it and I performed it, and I got really, really good reviews.

[00:03:47.020] – Shelley
And that was the first time I thought, you know what? I like this. I like teaching people. I like helping people to not struggle. So that led into more leadership type stuff. And the first time I failed spectacularly. The second time, I struggled through it. But I was able to be successful on a couple fronts. But at the same time, when you’re moving from a technical position where you do the things that people plan for and stuff, to management and leadership, where you’re in charge of decisions and you have to hire and fire people and all of that kind of stuff.

[00:04:33.480] – Shelley
I do not like firing people, that’s like my number one. I will give someone a chance for way too long, probably. But I have lost so many jobs that it’s just really hard for me to have that conversation. But yeah. So after I was a manager at Sitecore, actually, I’m actually wearing a Sitecore shirt. You can’t see it. Yeah. I was a lead developer after that for, like, seven years or so. And then I started my company, HoffsTech, in 2015. So that is a whole new thing where I am leading an entire company.

[00:05:22.570] – Shelley
And I know we’re really small. It’s like three of us. It sounds, you know, not impressive. But when you think about it, I’m in charge of making the money. I’m in charge of knowing where to go to do that or talking to people at conferences. And, you know, all of that stuff. And I am not good at sales. So that is why I have my sister as my partner, because she is good at that. Yeah. So now I’m kind of in this leadership position with my sister and husband.

[00:06:03.750] – Shelley
It’s a very interesting dynamic. It’s kind of like work and personal, completely separate. I just made that clear real quick that we will not get anything done if we’re, you know, bickering like siblings or whatever. We’re still a company and have to be professional and all of that stuff. Yeah. I mean, it’s worked out really well. Like I achieved my dream of my company full time. Right. So I stopped working a, you know, classic job last December, and since January of this year, I have been HoffsTech all the time.

[00:06:56.820] – Ned
Wow. Congratulations on that. That’s an achievement. It’s somewhere that I also found myself. So I can certainly relate, and Ethan also, a similar journey for him.

[00:07:08.600] – Shelley
Awsome.

[00:07:09.610] – Ned
Now one thing I did want to dig into a little bit is what your thoughts are on what a manager is, because I think we say the word manager, but that could mean different things to different people. So I’m curious to get your take on what do you think of as a manager and the primary responsibilities of manager.

[00:07:30.450] – Shelley
Yeah, so manager and leader are two separate things. For a manager, I would say the first step is to really understand how to have hard conversations with people and that you are not there to be liked. Honestly, you can never please everybody is what I’m saying.

[00:08:01.980] – Ned
But that’s hard! I like being liked.

[00:08:03.770] – Shelley
Oh, my God, I am the biggest people pleaser. That was the biggest hurdle for me moving into management. But I was their friends and also I was in a position where I was promoted. Right. So like, people who were my co workers were now my employees, I guess, you know, that was also hard. I think we’ll talk about that more later, but, yeah, a manager is someone who is in charge of overall productivity, I would say, and hiring and firing people and budgeting, which is also something I didn’t enjoy as a manager. Staying within budget, not really on brand for me.

[00:09:00.750] – Ethan
They’re managing the group as a whole, as an entity as well as managing individuals. You’re saying.

[00:09:07.390] – Shelley
Yes. So when you promote a team dynamic and foster a environment of collaboration and communication and just keeping everything transparent, cross training over multiple teams, keeping lines of communication open between multiple teams, you’re really in charge of ensuring that everybody is communicating effectively, which will also lead to less miscommunication. And when your teams are communicative with each other, then you have achieved leading a self managing team and that, I think, is the ultimate goal overall.

[00:10:12.060] – Ned
Right. It’s very I like that you mentioned the aspects of being a manager that don’t actually involve the team. You’re also responsible for productivity and budgeting and sort of reporting up in the structure. And at the same time, you’re responsible for helping develop the people who you’re managing. You mentioned an interesting term I don’t think I’ve heard of before the self managing team. What does that mean to have a self managed team? Does that mean they just don’t need you at all or don’t need yours as much.

[00:10:48.430] – Shelley
Yeah, as much. So it’s an environment where you have people who know what to do. If they have any problems, they know who to ask. And then on the flip side, the person asked will always help. If they can’t help, they will find someone who can. And if they can’t find someone who can, they will escalate it. Yeah. So it’s less management of, like tasks overall, and I seen it work so well. The only thing is it generally works well when teams are all senior, which I am very much against.

[00:11:43.330] – Shelley
I’m like higher juniors. We were all juniors once. If you have a company and you develop software like, you need to hire junior developers to round out your talent because I’ve learned so much from junior developers over the years that have just come out of school and just learned, like, the new thing that I haven’t heard about yet, you know, but juniors tend to need more structure. Yeah. At first.

[00:12:14.010] – Ethan
You’re still talking about managing individual contributors at various levels. But depending on where you are in the organization as a manager, what the makeup of that team looks like can change. So if you’re a middle manager, then you move to upper management. Do you see the roles and responsibilities changing?

[00:12:29.140] – Shelley
Oh, yeah. So middle management is more task oriented. Upper management. You get into the more abstract ideas and strategies overall. And, of course, everything trickles down. So if upper management has a specific attitude like that will trickle down. So upper management needs to be positive and supportive, I’d say. But when you’re in upper management, you have a lot more, I would say presentations to people all over the company. You are talking to managers trying to coordinate strategies for products or services. It’s a whole different layer.

[00:13:30.220] – Ethan
You said strategy, and could that compartmentalize the difference between upper and middle management, where upper management is more strategic and middle management is more tactical?

[00:13:38.360] – Shelley
Exactly. That is exactly right.

[00:13:41.840] – Ned
So upper management, they go here’s the vision. Here’s what we’re thinking. Middle management is okay. I’m going to create some tasks like you said, task oriented on how to accomplish that vision and then the management. I won’t call them lower management. But the managers who are actually managing teams will take those tasks and turn them into something that can actually get done in their sprints or whatever.

[00:14:04.960] – Shelley
Yeah. Exactly. I would also say that upper management is also just generally more actual leadership instead of management. Leadership is where you are supporting people in order for them to be productive to learn, you know, skills and all of that stuff. To mentor. And you aren’t in charge of tasks overall. I feel like strategy is more leadership because it encompasses more abstract ideas and so leaders. Leading is hard. There are so many different types. I’m the type where I am pulling people along, right. I am supportive, and I work for my employees.

[00:15:19.690] – Shelley
That’s my mentality. There are also people that don’t do that, you know, sit up on high and have instructions and stuff like that and aren’t supportive. When you have management like that, your company will experience a lot of turnover. I’ve worked at many companies like that, and every two years it’s a whole new staff.

[00:15:50.560] – Ned
Yeah, sometimes I thought about how weird that a company can completely change all of the members of that company, but it’s still the same entity. It’s like how all of our cells get replaced. But we’re still us a weird abstract thought for we were just talking about abstraction. I want to go back to something you mentioned about the self managed team, which is that they need to have clarity on what’s expected of them. So would the manager in their role be setting those clear expectations and give them direction on where to go for things.

[00:16:24.800] – Shelley
Exactly. Yeah. So it takes a lot of, you know, training and documentation. I am big on documentation. I could have been a technical writer honestly, when you train people for not only tasks that exist now, but sort of the overall team strategy and how to work on things that you don’t know 100%, because that happens all the time. You know, I haven’t touched JavaScript in forever. If someone handed me a ticket, I’d be like, stackoverflow I’m going to look up how to write a comment. I don’t remember. When you train people in multiple areas, and especially mainly critical thinking.

[00:17:33.180] – Shelley
That really helps to smooth out times where tasks change and priorities change. And the type of work also changes your clients, like, we live in a world of change. So managers and leaders, especially are really responsible to mitigate that.

[00:18:00.170] – Ned
Right. That makes total sense to me. And it’s almost like what you’re saying with self managed teams is you have to give them the tools, but then you have to trust the people you hire to actually do the job that you hired them to do.

[00:18:13.750] – Shelley
Exactly.

[00:18:14.590] – Ned
What a novel concept.

[00:18:16.180] – Shelley
And that is why you always hire people that are more skilled than you at something. Because while you and so for me, I am technical plus leadership. So I struggled with people wanting me to still do my old job while also leading like, that’s not going to work. Okay. It’s not.

[00:18:43.280] – Ethan
Well, did other people want that or did you also maybe want that since you are a bit of a nerd?

[00:18:48.340] – Shelley
Yeah. I mean, I did have a hard time not touching code for, like, years, and I was just like, oh, my God, all of these things have changed and I don’t know how to do them and stuff like that. So yeah, I struggled with that. But I think that when technical people are put into management positions, they really if they want to still do some of their old work and have a lighter load as a manager, that’s fine. But if you expect somebody to do two jobs at the same time, that is not going to work.

[00:19:33.860] – Shelley
And I’m sorry, I just went off on a tangent and I don’t think I answered your original question, which I don’t remember at this point.

[00:19:42.230] – Ethan
So the question is for some people who want to go into management or think they do. Ned and I we’ve had a couple of discussions about management on day two cloud, and there is a personality type that thinks they want to go into management, but really, they are more effective as an engineer as an individual contributor. Maybe the question really is, how do you know when you want to be a manager?

[00:20:06.170] – Shelley
Well, that is a good question. I have experienced a lot of people who never expressed an interest in management but were somehow promoted anyway. It’s like nobody asked them. They were super technical and super, you know, awesome at that. That does not always translate into management and especially not into leadership. I guess technical people could actually transfer to management, especially devs, because we’re extremely organized. You know, I don’t think that you can be a Dev without being organized. We have to organize our code. So. And for management, that’s a good skill.

[00:21:03.700] – Shelley
But for leadership, you know, you need the the hutzpah, I guess, to make presentations to senior leadership and, you know, executives and clients and travel and all of that stuff. So that is a completely different skill set. It is not an easy one for a lot of people to master. And I would say that the biggest red flag I’ve seen for devs who were either pushed into leadership or thought that they wanted that was that they don’t like to talk to people. Whenever you ask them for a meeting, they’re just like, no, let’s just chat on slack or teams or whatever.

[00:21:53.920] – Shelley
And I’m like, this is like a conversation that we need to have. And then also people who are not comfortable going outside their comfort zone. Because when you’re in management and leadership, you’ll probably have to go outside of that comfort zone at some point.

[00:22:15.570] – Ethan
Meaning you’re going to get called upon to do a task you’ve never done before that sort of thing?

[00:22:19.700] – Shelley
And have to figure out how to do that. Yeah.

[00:22:26.580] – Ned
So, you mentioned a few skills which is being able to give presentations and communicate with others. So I guess, like, big skill number one, communication. You got to sharpen up those communication skills. How does one go about doing that? Because I feel like I’m fairly effective at communication, but I could probably do better. So what advice would you give for someone who wants to develop that specific skill?

[00:22:49.980] – Shelley
I mean, not to plug myself, but I do have a course on this topic. And so it’s called, it’s a long one, fostering effective collaboration and communication that teaches people the skills to ensure that maybe someday they could have a self managing team. But some of the things that actually, I didn’t teach in that course too much were compassion, empathy. Yeah. And listening to people and not canceling them after they make one mistake.

[00:23:41.640] – Ethan
Emotional intelligence sort of topics.

[00:23:43.970] – Shelley
Emotional intelligence. Yes. That was the word that I was going for. A lot of managers are more unemotional, I would say. And while that’s okay in an emergency, that’s actually good to just calmly take care of the servers that are down and millions of people that are trying to access your website. But when you are managing individuals, we all have lives outside of work. Not all of us can work every night and every weekend. You have to consider people are people. We aren’t always consistent. We have good days.

[00:24:35.990] – Shelley
We have bad days. We have very bad days. We have melt downs. That’s me. So just understanding that and supporting people when the chips are down, but also supporting people to achieve success, I think, are really key personality traits. Yeah.

[00:25:05.700] – Ned
I like that you went to the elements of empathy and compassion, because when I initially asked the question being the tech dummy that I am, I’m like, oh, yeah. Let’s talk about ways to make my writing more effective and how to be more direct with what I’m saying. And how to, that’s where my mind immediately went was all these sort of technical elements of communication immediately like, no, no, Ned, you silly boy. What you should be doing is listening with compassion and empathy to the people you might be managing. So that’s yes.

[00:25:44.390] – Shelley
Yeah. I’ve had situations where as a first time manager, I didn’t have any empathy or compassion to anybody. I was like, these are the tasks you’re going to do them on time or else. So, that is not a good way to be with people. You will not inspire people to perform at their highest potential. If you, on the flip side, if you support them, and if you champion them and listen to problems and all of that stuff, then people generally perform much, much better when they’re supported.

[00:26:29.860] – Shelley
It’s. A novel idea, isn’t it?

[00:26:32.240] – Ned
It is.

[00:26:33.700] – Ned
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Shelly, you mentioned one of the character traits that’s good to have as a manager is being organized. You as developers organized that can translate well into management. That’s a skill. I would say people have it. But maybe that skill maps to a personality type. So if we take a step back, could you describe the personality type that is a good manager? And maybe Conversely, a personality type that if you’re like this, you’re probably not going to be a good manager.

[00:29:31.160] – Shelley
Yeah. So the good manager the most, I guess striking visual of this is the person isn’t pushing people. They’re pulling instead, because when you push people, it’s it can be uncomfortable for everybody, you know.

[00:30:02.880] – Ethan
But I’m not clear on the difference between pushing and pulling. Could you give an example?

[00:30:07.060] – Shelley
So I would say a push would be more like a manager who assign a task and some arbitrary due date that they came up with themselves. But a pull is talking to the person figuring out how long the task would take, figuring out, like a respectable date and then supporting them if they have questions, helping them learn the answers or turning them on to a person who can help. Right. So instead of here’s your task, go! It’s here’s your task. Let’s check in, you know, frequently and talk about it.

[00:31:05.690] – Ethan
You’re describing a personality that is less about being demanding and more about enabling.

[00:31:13.400] – Shelley
Yeah. Yeah. And what you’re ultimately enabling is that person’s success at work and oftentimes that also leads to success in life. So, as a manager, you spend a lot of time with people. The last thing you want to do is be the reason that that person is having a terrible day.

[00:31:48.150] – Ethan
Okay. So there’s a broad description of a personality, and it goes back to our conversation about emotional intelligence. Let’s say I’m looking at myself. And if I’m honest, maybe I’m not really that person. Can I develop that skill set or?

[00:32:06.360] – Shelley
Absolutely, I mean, just asking that question of yourself is showing that you’re interested in improving. A lot of people aren’t like that. There’s just like, I’m fine, just the way I am. But I I I’m not perfect. I don’t expect anybody else to be perfect. We’re all on this journey called life, and we’re all just kind of floating around doing our thing. So yeah. Long story short, you can absolutely learn skills to help out. And I would say, especially with compassion and empathy. It’s good to look at courses or videos that you can relate to the most that represent your daily job.

[00:33:09.040] – Shelley
Overall, they’re not easy things to learn. I would say, because our instinct, especially with empathy, is that person’s lazy. They just they’re not performing. But if you look at them especially look at their overall workload. There are so many devs that just never say no to anything or throw a red flag like I have too much to do. They’ll just perform poorly on the outside. But if you look at what they’re actually going through, how many projects they’re working on, that are all different, and they’re in different tech stacks and they use different versions of different IDEs.

[00:34:02.150] – Ethan
I had a manager who was sympathetic in that way. I tended to be overloaded because that was one of those people that could get it done. And so the people that can get it done tend to get dumped on with more and more projects. That was my situation. The solution my manager had for when things weren’t getting done quickly enough was, we got to check in, like, once a month, and I don’t want you to do, like, a daily time card, but once a month, let’s have bullet points of the major achievements, the things that you got done so that it doesn’t look like you’re not getting anything because you’re getting a lot done.

[00:34:34.090] – Ethan
Projects aren’t being completed, perhaps. But there are milestones being met. Let’s talk about that stuff so that there’s a realization of everything that’s being achieved and there’s no gut reaction of you’re just lazy. It’s just you’re overworked and you’re dying. You got to market yourself a little bit, in a sense.

[00:34:49.980] – Shelley
Yeah, exactly.

[00:34:52.920] – Ned
It’s that ability to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, which I know I personally struggle with from time to time because I think a lot of people like you said, their initial reaction is, well, if I couldn’t get it done, I have this laundry list of reasons in my head why I couldn’t get a task done. There’s something going on at home. My pet is sick, or I’ve got six other projects that are more demanding. But if somebody else doesn’t get a task done, oh, well, they’re just being lazy.

[00:35:18.680] – Ned
They could have gotten that done. And it’s like pumping the brakes and going, wait. If I have all these reasons, they might have similar reasons, too. Maybe I should have a conversation with them.

[00:35:28.870] – Shelley
Yeah. And it all ties into how you treat people as a manager does affect how your employees will treat each other as well. So if you are empathetic and compassionate and all of that, then people will learn that that’s the way to be with each other.

[00:35:53.930] – Ned
Right, right. Leading by example. The very early manager training that I ever got that was one of the first principles was leading by example. One of the things that I can certainly say is the compassion and empathy for me at least came with a certain degree of maturity. I don’t think I would have been capable of this when I was 22. Now that I’m on the past 42, I feel like I’m much more prone to doing those things. Do you think there is just a certain level of maturity required to be a good manager.

[00:36:29.210] – Ethan
And do we mean maturity or experience, too? I’ll throw that in.

[00:36:32.720] – Ned
Okay.

[00:36:34.070] – Shelley
Yeah. Maturity for sure. Like I said, the first time I was in a team lead position. Oh, it went to my head. Oh, my goodness. I was the worst. I was just like, oh, I’m this hot star. I was promoted as the team lead. Bow down to me type of thing. That’s the tiara. Yeah. And I mean, just chalk that up to I was like, mid twenties. You know, I was just immature. I just hadn’t reached that yet. But that is to say, some people reach maturity a lot earlier than others.

[00:37:19.640] – Shelley
So I’ve met plenty of people who were excellent managers in their early twenties and that I learned from. Yeah, I forgot the other part of the question.

[00:37:33.810] – Ethan
Is it maturity or is it also experience that factors in there?

[00:37:39.160] – Shelley
Yeah. So experience is also important. Of course, at some point, we all kind of get thrown into management. And without any management experience per se, if you take some courses or read, I’m trying to think of the name of this book I read. I can’t remember or view articles on Harvard Business Review that helped me a lot. Learn scrum and agile and all of that stuff, which is readily available for free. Yeah. So if you’re not experienced practically, you can study in order to hopefully mitigate the struggles that you’re going to have at first.

[00:38:43.720] – Ned
Right. Sometimes there is no replacement for experience. But I know you can certainly learn all kinds of skills through training. So that makes sense to me. You mentioned you got your first sort of tech lead manager role. You thought you were the hot thing. You’re like, oh, man, I can do this. I’m awesome. But the people you were just working with on your team, they were your teammates. Now they’re your possibly your direct reports. I have two questions. How did you handle the transition then? And how would you approach that transition now?

[00:39:18.290] – Shelley
Yeah, I would approach it completely different. Yeah. So I didn’t handle it well. I was promoted over people in my mind, and I actually had to compete with somebody for that position who was on my team after I achieved that, and her and I had a lot of struggle, and I was just struggling overall, like, I had to manage projects. I had to continue to do my old job. And now I had, like, two more jobs on top of that. And I didn’t really complain except for once.

[00:40:05.100] – Shelley
And I was like, you know, I can’t do all of this. And my manager’s response was just do it. And I was just like, well, okay, then I guess I will. I don’t know what I was thinking, but yeah. At one point, though, I realized that I was struggling and that I needed to learn how to lead these people. And so I read blogs and books and I was turned on to this idea of radical empathy. So this is something where you can empathize with anybody, even a person that you just completely hate, that you and them do not see eye to eye on anything, but you can still respect their work, and you treat them respectfully in that way and then also just understand where they’re coming from.

[00:41:16.740] – Shelley
So my biggest success as a manager was me and this girl who did not like each other. We were pitted against each other by management. And at some point I just sat down and talked to her and asked her, her opinion on on things, and I looked to her to help me, and she appreciated that. And I appreciated it. We ended up becoming friends, and I helped her get a job last year. So that is what radical empathy can do for you. I just did not understand or try to understand where she was coming from.

[00:42:06.490] – Shelley
And after talking to her and asking her what her struggles are at work and in life, and then at one point, I was actually told to fire her, and I wouldn’t. I was like, no, I think she’s great. You know, it’s everybody else that doesn’t think she’s great. And that really stemmed from the fact that she was a strong, outspoken, aggressive woman in tech. That’s a whole different topic.

[00:42:43.320] – Ned
That’s a whole other podcast that we’ve got right there.

[00:42:47.010] – Shelley
I mean, I have a whole podcast about that. Yeah.

[00:42:52.660] – Ned
Wow. So it sounds like initially you did struggle with that promotion. Did you eventually demote yourself or step away from the role, or was there a graceful way for you to step down if things weren’t working out?

[00:43:11.560] – Shelley
That is such a good question. I did not demote myself. I asked them, said again, like, I can’t do all of this. Their answer was to demote me without me. Yeah. And I mean, I was really sick at that time. I had been hospitalized for an entire week for asthma. I still don’t know what that was. So I wasn’t physically well, and that caused me to really not be mentally well. When this happened, I fell off a cliff. I was just I was depressed and all of that.

[00:43:59.780] – Shelley
And then a couple of weeks after that, they let me go without a conversation about why I I was unhappy or what could they do to improve it after I had worked at this place for, like, four years. So again, don’t be that person. Don’t cancel somebody because of, you know, one thing or whatever. But, I mean, it turned out happy. You know, I hated that job. I don’t know why I was still there, but it just at the time was awful.

[00:44:39.980] – Ned
Yeah. It sounds like that was not a great working environment in general.

[00:44:44.180] – Shelley
No.

[00:44:44.810] – Ned
Probably for the best. If someone has stepped into a management role and they’re realizing that this is just not for me. How would you advise them to go to their senior managers and say what would be a good way of saying this isn’t working out while still, you know, trying to maintain your job there? Or is it better to just look for a job somewhere else?

[00:45:08.480] – Shelley
Yeah. That’s a really hard question. Like everyone I’ve ever known that had this problem just found another job. But again, that’s cancel culture a little bit right? If you aren’t happy, if you’re not comfortable telling management that. I think that that’s a sign that you should just find another job. But if you have management that are supportive and understanding, then you could approach that like, you know, I was more productive and I enjoyed working more in a technical role. But again, I’ve never seen anybody do this.

[00:46:04.630] – Shelley
Honestly, everybody’s always just found another job. But that’s not to say it shouldn’t be a conversation like it can be.

[00:46:14.550] – Ethan
Yeah, I had that conversation didn’t go well. I told that story in a different podcast, but the context was a little different in that I had been warned and to not go after the management job, but they gave it to me anyway, since I really said I wanted it and it’s like, no, you were right. I shouldn’t have done that. And they’re like, what get out of here, man. No, it didn’t go well. Anyway.

[00:46:39.480] – Ned
I think it’s interesting that in DevOps, and I guess I don’t know if the Agile is part of this, but there’s this idea of failing fast and trying something new, and we tend to apply that to software and applications, but we don’t tend to apply that to people as much. And maybe it’s just important just as important to apply that to people, and they’re sort of career trajectory.

[00:47:06.440] – Shelley
Exactly. Yeah. I am very passionate about mentoring people because I did not have a mentor until I was ten years into my career. And ever since I had someone to just go to for a little bit of guidance, like, what should I do here is this should I leave this place or someone to call and cry every time I got laid off, you know, that was important because nobody really understands how it is to be in this position where you hate your job, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave your job and you don’t want to get fired all at the same time.

[00:47:59.630] – Shelley
You know, having mentors, plural, please have many is very important.

[00:48:10.480] – Ned
And you would generally suggest mentors that are outside of your current place of employment.

[00:48:16.790] – Shelley
Yeah. Because people who, you know, work with you. I think the the stories you tell aren’t abstract. They’re. These people know everybody that you’re talking about. You need an impartial third party, somebody who doesn’t know any of these people that you’re talking about and can see the problem in a completely different way. Yeah.

[00:48:58.550] – Ned
Alright. Well, I really like this conversation we’ve had because it’s sharpened some things for me when it comes to management and just maybe even being a mentor a little bit. I think there’s definitely some overlap there. If you had a few key takeaways for our listeners. What would they be?

[00:49:17.410] – Shelley
Key takeaways. When you are flung into management and you’re a technical person and now you are expected to lead without any kind of support or anything like that, you will need to take it upon yourself to kind of learn management practices because it’s a completely different skill set from technical skills. And I would suggest that you talk to people who have also been in the same situation. Listen to podcasts with stories about that and don’t expect perfection immediately and do communicate with your team often.

[00:50:10.210] – Shelley
As a new manager. I would say you want to be respected, but at the same time, make it known that this is the first time that you’ve managed people and that you will be asking them for feedback often.

[00:50:27.000] – Ethan
Oh, yeah, I’m gonna lead with that. Hey, I have no idea what I’m doing, so I’ll appreciate any help you can give me.

[00:50:33.040] – Shelley
Not like you have no idea, but just, you know, if I’m struggling, just kind of yeah.

[00:50:40.610] – Ethan
Yeah, I get your point. I get your point. There is something to be said for being honest about where you’re coming from and saying I’m not here with all the answers. I’m going to do my very best, and I’m going to lean into some of you that are here to give me feedback so that I and answer questions that I might have, etc. Yeah. That makes you a real person, and that’s not a bad thing.

[00:51:00.160] – Ned
It might even make your employees feel better about sharing when they’re uncertain about things instead of clamming up and just trying to hammer through whatever they’re doing.

[00:51:10.040] – Shelley
Exactly, but at the same time, it’s such a hard line to walk at the same time. You have to instill respect in them. They can’t just, you know, tell you what to do and stuff like that. You are the head and that you also aren’t their friends, you know, because when it comes to personal life and work life, you have to make a line and not cross that. And that’s the part that I struggled with, especially moving from a co worker to now I’m these people’s manager, I was their friend. How do I do this? You know, it’s really it’s hard.

[00:51:56.120] – Ned
Yeah. Well, if people want to hear more from you or gain some of the skills that you’ve mentioned, where should they go on the Internet?

[00:52:07.400] – Shelley
So, yeah, I’m a Pluralsight author. I have multiple courses on management and leadership. I’ve got moving from technical professional to management, managing technical professionals, launching successful teams and fostering effective team collaboration and communication. I think that all of those together are really me telling these stories that I’ve just told you and teaching people how not to do the things that I did. You can find links to all of my courses on my website HoffsTech dot. Com. And in October, I’m launching my own podcast, Tiaras and Tech.

[00:52:57.110] – Ned
Awesome! Congratulations.

[00:52:58.160] – Shelley
Thank you. I’m excited.

[00:53:00.820] – Ned
All right. Well, Shelly Benhoff, thank you so much for being a guest today on day two cloud and hey, listeners out there virtual high fives to you for tuning in. If you have suggestions for future shows, we’d love to hear them. You can hit either of us up on Twitter at day two Cloud show, or you can fill out the form on my fancy website. Ned in the cloud dot com. If you like engineering oriented shows like this one, visit Packet Pushers dot net subscribe all of our podcasts, newsletters and websites are there.

[00:53:32.960] – Ned
It’s all nerdy content designed for your professional career development. Until next time, just remember Cloud is what happens while IT is making other plans.

Episode 116