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Management by example?

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) writes | more than 7 years ago

User Journal 2

An old adage states that "the best way to lead is to lead by example". In technology related fields though, this is a tricky act ... as one could readily tell after reading comments in November 25's Can a Manager Be a Techie and Survive? story.An old adage states that "the best way to lead is to lead by example". In technology related fields though, this is a tricky act ... as one could readily tell after reading comments in November 25's Can a Manager Be a Techie and Survive? story.

From my perspective, the reason it's so challenging to manage a technology team is that everyone on the team expects something different from a manager. This plethora of expectations seems far more diverse than for non-technical teams (or at least compared to Management Consulting, my prior career).

For example, I've found that:

  • 1/3 of tech employees want a manager who is an expert in their field so they can utilize them for assistance
  • 1/3 of tech employees want a manager who is completely non-technical so that they can focus on solving the problem however they choose
  • The other 1/3 of tech employees don't want a manager at all. To them, a manager is always part of the problem and thus should be marginalized if at all possible

Do you agree with this, and what tactics do you (or your manager(s)) utilize to effectively handle these expectations?

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The Rock says... (1)

Red Warrior (637634) | more than 6 years ago | (#17057322)

"Know your role and shut your hole!"

Seriously, I think managers are important, but I would fall into the 4th third. The group that wants management to MANAGE and let DEVELOPERS develop. Period. I've had managers who were technically savvy, and those that weren't. What was important was what they saw their role as. I want managers to focus on the schedules, plans, budgets, personnel issues, politics, etc. So that the workers can focus on WORK, knowing that the manager "has their back".

A good manager, as defined by me, is worth his[1] weight in gold. A bad one, as defined by me, not so much. My last manager was the best I have had. It turns out that she IS technically savy, and used to be a programmer. I didn't know this until it came up in casual conversation near the end of the project. I just noticed I didn't have to explain things to her more than once. If I knew what I was talking about...

If they are technically savvy and can occasionally help out, that's cool. As long as they don't try to be developers instead of managers. And it is nice if they have enough technical savy to be able to "talk the language".

Oh, and you left out the 5th third (not to be confused with the bank of the same name), who want a non-savvy manager so that they can be unaccountable for their time/progress.... :-)

[1]The generic personal pronoun in the english language. his/her is a pet peeve of mine. However, my current and two most recent managers have all been women.

Re:The Rock says... (1)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061562)

Hey, thanks for the feedback! I've had a few developers who fall into that 5th third ... unfortunately I've had to typically switch them to another team (or role), as I am (or at least, used to be) technically savvy enough to realize that they weren't willing to pull their weight.
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