Managing developers gets a bad rap. And with good reason. It’s an acquired taste. I don’t mind it too much, but I like teaching, and my experience with leading and managing developers has had a heavy dose of teaching.

Although, like many developers, I struggle with the notion of not programming. It’s why we all get into this thing. The love of creating something. Specifically, creating something with code. As that part of the job goes away, some level of fear of falling behind sets in.

I’ve been managing a team of developers for a little over two years. In the beginning, it was equal amounts of code and mentoring. As we grew, and added more developers, it became obvious that I couldn’t do both. Not without being bad at both of them.

But recently, I’ve been back to doing some programming. I’m not going to lie. It was a little rough in the beginning, and I started to wonder if I could get my mojo back. I was slow. I struggled with some changes in Rails that I wasn’t used to, and a task that I estimated at about a half of a day, took two days.

But soon after, a task that I thought would take all week, took a fraction of the time. I was able to get about 70% of it done in about a day.

It reminded me that it’s all about fundamentals. The same things that I would teach a new programmer, I had forgotten. Syntax doesn’t matter. Your speed comes from understanding the problem and how you are going to solve it. Syntax is last.

If you are having a hard time because you feel like you are falling behind. It may seem that those you have been helping are passing you by. A valid concern, by the way. Stick to your fundamentals and the rust starts to fly off, your confidence comes back, and it’s fun all over again.