One of the best parts about learning to code is that you're never done learning. There's always a new language, function, or framework to master. So, what does that look like once you rise through the ranks and go from an individual contributor on your team to a people manager?
It’s definitely an exciting milestone, but this shift can be jarring. Your schedule might suddenly be filled with meetings and touch bases with team members, executives, and various other stakeholders. You might find yourself with little time for actual coding and worry about losing their edge.
Fortunately, there are several ways that managers can keep their technical skills sharp — it just might involve a little bit of pre-planning.
1. Clear up your schedule
As we said, finding the time to code can be hard when your schedule is packed with back-to-back meetings. Try dedicating a block of time every week solely to coding, and, during this time, try to keep yourself free from any distractions.
Block out this time on your calendar and let your team know you'll be inaccessible for a bit (barring any urgent matters, of course). It can be easy to deprioritize the time you’ve carved out for learning, so it can be helpful to work with your manager to make sure it’s a priority and people don’t book meetings over it.
2. Tackle side projects
While it can be tempting to get in the weeds of what your team is working on, depending on your role and the task at hand, that may not be what’s best for you and your team. For one, you don't want to risk causing delays with pressing projects because your managerial duties kept you from finishing on time.
Fortunately, there are other, less timely ways to make sure you’re continuing to up your coding game. Take a look through your backlog and see if you can lend a hand by tackling smaller projects that, while less essential, will benefit your team and be a fun problem-solving exercise for you.
3. Code with your team
Collaborative coding is a great way to keep your skills sharp, and it'll also give you a chance to teach and learn from your team. Plus, it’s also a great way to boost your team’s communication and leadership skills. (Two birds, one stone!)
Connect with a member of your team and set aside some time for pair programming. Better yet, bring everyone together for some mob programming.
Or maybe you're more into documentation? In that case, consider writing and reviewing RFCs and tech specs.
4. Learn by teaching
Experiment with some new technologies or techniques that might be useful for any upcoming projects, and when you find something you like, share it with your team. A (low pressure) deadline, like a team meeting, is a good motivator to learn something new. As Judah Anthony, Codecademy's Engineering Manager, explains, this is a great way to reinforce your own knowledge.
"Pick a topic, whether it's a new tech you want to push or a best practice like API design. Create a blog post, lightning talk, or brown bag to teach about that topic, and use that as an opportunity to learn/study/research the latest on the topic yourself."
5. Utilize your benefits
Does your company invest in technical training? If you're not sure, now's the time to find out.
IT teams are calling for more training opportunities in the workplace, and many companies have started including it in their benefits packages. You might find that your company offers stipends for development courses or even professional events and conferences.
If you need help finding technical training opportunities, why not try Codecademy Teams? Teams allows you to take Codecademy's learning platform to your entire team (yourself included) so that you can all learn together. And, with Codecademy's customizable curriculum and advanced reporting dashboard, you can ensure that everyone's hitting the right marks in their development.