Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Geeks in Management

A very interesting Slashdot thread on how geeks should fare in Management: Geeks in Management?.

Some responses that the thread got:
I) # You are NO LONGER a peer. Do not act as such, it will undermine your ability to manage
# Protect your people. I try to take the PM view I learned at IBM. I try to shield them from BS so they can focus. _I_ am the "bad cop" to outsiders who are out of line. I NEVER ask my folks to take that role.
# Listen to your folks, discipline is ALWAYS a secondary (or later) tactic for addressing issues. I have listened to a lot of screaming from my team. If they're pissed, they barge in my office and let loose. They're not disrespectful, they're frustrated, angry, and want someone to listen and help. After they're done, we figure something out. I'd rather they yell in my office than at some jackass outside the group.
# Honesty. Whether it's reviews, promotions, good, bad, whatever - be honest. Even if it's - I can't say right now.
# Your tech skills will be gone soon. You'll have exposure, but at a high level. I finally had to give up on the hands-on tech stuff. It's not easy, but it's the way it is
# Have a spine with upper mgmt. This doesn't mean shoot your mouth off, but be ready and able to say "no" in a firm but calm manner and help them "make better decisions" when appropriate. Holding my ground and remaining calm has helped me a LOT. You will be granted precieved authority beyond your title which can make life easier.
# Look long term and don't get shaken my short term events. Your team will react in a similar manner to your reaction to news (merger, layoffs, uppermgmt change, etc).
# ALWAYS remember - Karma is easier lost than gained.
# Listen to older SUCCESSFUL managers who offer advice

II) The best manager is the one that recognizes accomplishment, delegates, and rewards. Micromanagement is a trap many fall into - so remember what it is all about: facilitating people who work under you to feel empowered, and be empowered to do the work. The day you complain some guy is always 5 minutes late, when he is twice as productive as the guy next to him, is the day you need a smack upside the head.

III) As a manager, you cannot succeed without your employees succeeding. Any of their major accomplishments are shared with you inherently...broadcast these accomplishments and sing their praises to the masses. Recognition is a great incentive, and when your employees get credit for something, YOU get credit as a good manager.

When they do something wrong, defend them to the hilt...even if it was something stupid. Then behind closed doors let them have it and make it clear that you put your butt on the line for them. Be willing to take a personal hit on their behalf...NEVER sell them out.

Realize that to be first, you must be last. You are there to facilitate their performance as someone who works for them.

For cryin' out loud...never micromanage anything. All employees are different, but for the most part you can measure them by results and not stupid timeclock things, etc.

And I stress that all people are motivated by different things. Money, recognition, who and what they work with....learn and listen. If you reverse engineer their motivation you have very important information in your hands.

Be very careful of minority groups--and no I don't mean the legal minority groups--whoever the smallest group is in your team be they white male or indian female. The smallest subgroup tends to fight amongst themselves, or unite to destroy the rest of the group. Watch those situations carefully.
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