Mike Seavers - From Manager to Director: Guide to Managing Managers

This week I watched a Mike Seavers (Epic Games as VP of Online Development) interview dated February 2022 on the Coding Sans podcast channel.

His honesty and anecdotes during the entire episode are inspiring. If you are interested in making a transition from an Engineering Manager to a Director role, I would consider this a must watch or read.

The following excerpts of the podcast made me want to watch the whole episode.

On his initial motivations to get the director’s role

My motivations weren’t right. My focus wasn’t to enable others or to become the best leader I could be. I wanted the bigger title, I wanted to feel important, and I was chasing my ego. Unfortunately, I think this is more common than people like to admit.

On his first mistake as a director

I was proud of what we managed to accomplish, but when it came time for performance reviews, I received the worst review of my career. My peers and everyone around me outside my team said in their feedback that they had no relationship with me. They didn’t know what I was doing, they just saw me making changes in engineering without involving the leaders of the project management team, the release management team, or the QA team.

On turning the ship around

I looked for patterns and themes in all feedback I received, and I poured myself into reading books, and taking classes to improve my leadership skills. I didn’t turn it around overnight, but I tried out new tools and learned new skills to become an effective director.

At the time, I didn’t have the skills necessary for managing managers. This was a failed transition for me. It took me about three years to figure out what a successful director looks like.

And this was just the beginning of the episode.

Mike shares more insights about other themes like necessary skills for this role, common mistakes, support to new directors and other interesting topics.

Overall, great interview and leadership content podcast. I’m not sure why there are not more subscribers to this channel.

If you are interested in this kind of content, I’d suggest checking out the other episodes too.