Trying to be a project manager

I have always been a solo developer, trying to create something for fun, for myself, trying to get something off the ground, whatever programming I do I did it by myself.

Recently I got involved with the COVID-19 HIMS program as a volunteer to contribute to the open source program. The COVID-19 HIMS will be a central hub that will streamline the COVID-19 data collection in Sri Lanka. So it is going to be a huge project.

There are around 20 developers at the moment, majority of them being undergraduates. The first task I undertook in the new project is to redesign the user interface, because the old user interface was quickly built due to the ever expanding pandemic, and needed some improvements so that regular healthcare workers can manage the system.

I was working with a small group of 10 undergraduates collaborating with me to redesign the user interface. When they joined I was already redesigning the front end, and the students will complete their task and I will merge their changes with my development branch, which will go on to replace the master branch and will go in to production within next week.

Now I’m super excited to manage a team, since this is my first time doing so. And it was going to be a learning curve for me from being a solo developer into a project manager.

I have to learn how to communicate effectively, solve any issues brought to me by the undergraduates, assign them tasks, manage a task manager, as well as make my own contributions to the project with my own coding.

Recently one of my colleagues expressed his view where he said the higher you go up in the ladder the fewer hours you have to work. But I’m sure the world where you have to work less and be at the top of the ladder exists only in his imagination. I don’t think a CEO is taking tequilas at the beach and giving TED talks, while his employees work to make him rich.

I believe that the more you go up in an organization, the more you have to work. And now that I’m managing a team I’m getting the first hand experience of it what I always believed, that the more you go up the more you will have to work.

For example, if I give the developers a task all they have to worry is finish it and submit it before the deadline, once they finished their task they will be free until their next task. However, on the other hand I have to make sure that the task follows the project standards, whether the developer has successfully completed their task and achieved the goal, I have to check their code quality, etc.

Sometimes the developers will call me and ask for my support, or questions they have have in mind about their tasks. Now imagine working with roughly 10 developers, constantly communicating with them. Plus I have to worry about my own deadline, which is completing the new interface by next week. It’s far more stressful than being a solo developer programming for fun.

I always think about myself as a weak communicator (imposter syndrome much?), I always thought about myself more as an introvert and a thinker than a communicator. But now that I have to manage a team, I feel like communication is essential and this is a great opportunity to develop skills that I felt I always lacked.

May be all these problems, stress is there because I’m new. Maybe I will be able to ease a bit once I become more confident in managing a team.

Are you a project manager and feeling the same stress that I’m feeling? Feel free to let me know. Do you have any tips for me to become a good manager?

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