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Geeks in Management?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the still-wearing-jeans-in-spirit dept.

Businesses 763

The Other Side of the Coin asks: "I've been doing a relatively interesting job until now, but they've pushed me into management recently. Although the new position is pretty boring (I manage normals), I do still have time for all the geeky stuff I used to do before. My problem is: I have no formal (or any other, for that matter) management training. Sure, I'll read a lot about it (and take some education), but what are your experiences as geeks in management? For example, I naturally started to use Borgish management methods, and this wasn't received well by people, to say the least. What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump, and can our personality be used as an advantage in management?"

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Pretty Ironic... (2, Insightful)

Shant3030 (414048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471416)

I was just offered a management position yesterday. Being an engineer who will be going into management, I am also curious to what the responses will be.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (0, Redundant)

Martok7 (634005) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471447)

I too have been moved into a management position. There are a few a of us in my company. While the $ is nice it is a switch.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (4, Insightful)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471619)

My official advice for all of you is to refuse the management position. I realize that with management comes more money and more influence/power, but I've seen FAR too many good geeks, engineers, techies, etc. go to management to die. They cease being involved in the actual work of their department and progress more and more deeply into politics, paperwork, and meetings. Every one of them has moved gradually away from being a geek with a management position and more and more toward just being a manager who used to be a geek.

Remember this: Management is where geeks go to die.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471450)

what i want to know is how long till AOL cuts off web access so we won't have as many 'Me Too' posts.

[/bad joke]

Re:Pretty Ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471478)

How the hell is that ironic?

Re:Pretty Ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471539)

like rain on your wedding day a free ride when you aren't going anywhere that good advice, that you just didn't take...

Re:Pretty Ironic... (-1, Redundant)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471615)

That's not ironic, it's an oxymoron. Like Swiss cheese.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471574)

Clearly you don't understand the meaning of irony.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471601)

Irony != coincidence.

Re:Pretty Ironic... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471602)

"Pretty Ironic ... I was just offered a management position yesterday."
  • The offer wasn't, by-chance, to replace the guy that submitted this story, was it?

Easy thing to do- (5, Insightful)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471422)

Treat your "normals" as you would like to be treated if the positions were reversed.

Will solve a lot of problems that way.

Re:Easy thing to do- (3, Insightful)

salvorHardin (737162) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471522)

This can be problematic. I would like to be offered a coffee and lots of sympathy when the train has been delayed, and I turn up to work 20mins later than I should have been, having just ran for the last half mile.. But instead, being in tune with reality, I expect the PHB to make noises, and I've seen what can happen when manglement are a little too laissez-faire - people start taking the ****.

Re:Easy thing to do- (1)

joeslugg (8092) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471558)

Yeah, the good ol' "Golden Rule" applies well /methinks. Many (all?) of us have had good and bad managers, so try to think back about what you liked and didn't like about each - what made them effective or ineffective.

The older I get, the more I see the possiblity of jumping into management some day (hopefully not too soon). But I don't fear it much, since I have enough experience on this side of the fence to know the best way to conduct things on the management side without pissing everybody off.

Honestly, I don't think it's the sort of thing you can learn in a course either. Some people lack the ability to put themselves in someone else's shoes and see from their perspective. I think those folks have a tendency to be poor managers (or at least unpopular amongst the subordinates). The skill comes in balancing that "popularity" with perceived effectiveness from the perspective of the higher-ups. And I used the word "perceived" on purpose - perception is reality.

Re:Easy thing to do- (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471589)

Golden Rule... "Do unto others..."

Good start, but there are other things.

One, learn their jobs. In fact, work with them for a few days, doing their job. There's nothing worse than a manager who does something to make life easier, when all he's doing is adding another rule that makes things harder.

Two, listen. You will not come up with ways to make their jobs easier, so don't even try. Instead, listen to what they need to make the job easier.

Finally, three, encourage communication. If they fear you, they won't talk to you. If they love you, they may not want to tell you something you won't want to hear. However they feel about you, let them know you WANT to get feedback, and offer ways to communicate with you anonymously (Think suggestion box).

I've worked jobs where my bosses understood these concepts, and it was a dream. I've worked jobs where my bosses didn't understand these concepts, and it was a nightmare.

Re:Easy thing to do- (3, Interesting)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471591)

It wont work. He's a geek.

To the guy who asked slashdot: Normals need to be treated firmly and unequivocally.
No playing games, no friendliness, no nothing. Just do it by the book. Tell them what's expected of them, recognize their achievements, punish their lack thereof. They need a firm structure, and they strive. They are climbing the corporate ladder. Remove the ladder and they're lost and confused. Get a book on military leadership, NCO level.

Ask management in no uncertain terms why they thought you would be good for the position. Because from the looks of it they just made a monumental error. If you don't feel you can have a straight talk with your manager, you got to either get to that point and make that happen, or you got to leave right away. Your future job opportunities depend on it.

Interview in 3 years:

PHB: Why did you leave the previous company?

You: They promoted me to management, but it was miserable, productivity dropped and my team was demoralized.

PHB: I see. Ok, we'll call you. Thank you for stopping by. Good luck!

Re:Easy thing to do- (3, Insightful)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471621)

Except that proper functioning of a business is often directly at odds with making everybody absolutely comfortable in their jobs.

Anybody who's worked in the IT department for a company with a hiring freeze knows what I'm talking about.

billus gates (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471423)

did bill gates submit this? wtf?

Must Read (5, Informative)

k96822 (838564) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471426)

It is absolutely crucial to read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. That will turn anyone into a good manager. Best manager I had was an analytical type like us back at GE. He read lots of books and practiced what they preached. The Carnegie book is the most important!

Re:Must Read (4, Informative)

680x0 (467210) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471490)

Reading is a good start. Another book I have to recommend is Peopleware by Lister and DeMarco.

Re:Must Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471508)

When you read it, you need to listen to Screeching Weasels album "How to Make Enemies & Irritate People." The combination of the two will give you many of the people skills needed to manage.

Other Good Read (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471551)

It is absolutely crucial to read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. That will turn anyone into a good manager. Best manager I had was an analytical type like us back at GE. He read lots of books and practiced what they preached. The Carnegie book is the most important!

Another excellent read is Leadership secrets of Atilla the Hun (no joke) the man turned yak herders into a formidable force.

Re:Must Read (2, Insightful)

Mycroft999 (809772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471596)

First read "The One Minute Manager." This is a very quick read and following this book alone will put you into the top 20% of all managers I have ever seen.

Then read the Dale Carnegie book, or even better take the public speaking course at the local Dale Carnegie branch which heavily involves this book.

Re:Must Read (1)

glitch! (57276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471624)

It is absolutely crucial to read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

I second that. Just remember to get the book by DALE Carnegie, not Andrew...

It worked for Homer... (4, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471429)

Employee hammocks!

Self Management (0)

mkop (714476) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471430)

Always works for me. But then again I only manage myself and others believe I manage other people.

read dillbert (0, Offtopic)

liquidmpls (839148) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471431)

fp?

Dilbert... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471607)

Dilbert is humor and perhaps useful insights into what happens under ineffective (or malignent) management.

I think Scott has some good things to say on what's wrong in business, but I haven't read enough to see ways to fix it. Check out the books by Scott Adams: Dilbert Principle and such.

Hmmm (5, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471435)

I naturally started to use Borgish management methods... What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump, and can our personality be used as an advantage in management?
Well, one of the most difficult challenges you face is stop using Star Trek references in every day speech. If you do that, and stop referring to your cell phone as a Communicator, you'll probably do just fine.

Re:Hmmm (1)

ConsoleDeamon (611610) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471473)

but, it is a nokia Communicator.

Re:Hmmm (1)

cwebb1977 (650175) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471479)

What if he has a Nokia Communicator? Is it alright then?

Re:Hmmm (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471533)

Especially not then. If you wish to appear non-geeky, referring to your own phone by it's model name is absolutely verboten.

Call it your "cell phone". Otherwise, you enter the dangerous realm of the boy racer who insists on giving the engine capacity and cylinder configuration of his car every time he mentions it.

Re:Hmmm (5, Funny)

SithGod (810139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471531)

I would also advise against naming the hot person 7 of 9

Re:Hmmm (1)

djrogers (153854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471559)

I naturally started to use Borgish management methods... What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump, and can our personality be used as an advantage in management?
Well, one of the most difficult challenges you face is stop using Star Trek references in every day speech. If you do that, and stop referring to your cell phone as a Communicator, you'll probably do just fine.

Sadly, I think you are misreading the situation. He merely has to start using Kirk-ian management methods! Kirk not only rocked, but he always got the girls too (obdisclaimer - 'getting the girls' is not recommended in a corporate environment), whereas the Borg has been spectacularly unsuccesful in their ultimate goals.

He just picked the wrong model...


If that fails, you can always hand out tribbles as rewards....

error (1)

cwebb1977 (650175) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471436)

Don't think that others use their brains like you are used from other geeks, because most non-geeks simply don't!
If they say something or propose something, always check it yourself.

Re:error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471493)

^use their^have

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471439)

first post yay

Borg good (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471440)

Assimilate them. Seriously management is 75 % personality and 25% ability.

You have an advantage (4, Insightful)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471442)

if you can do the job of the people you're managing, you have an advantage. I cannot count time times where I've been in a job and the pinhead that was hired to be manager was just that - a manager... a manager that had absolutely no idea how to do the job I was doing. They were just a buzzword spouting talking head.

Re:You have an advantage (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471541)

Yes, being able to do the job is an advantage. I would argue that any good manager should be at least roughly knowledgeable of all the jobs of people who work for him, and capable of doing some of them extremely well. But that alone isn't enough - that will help you get the respect of those who work for you, but if you're an asshole and treat them like shit, and look down on them (by calling them "normals", for example) they certainly won't like you.

And having a good, positive working relationship with the people whose work you'll be judged by is a pretty important part of being a manager.

Re:You have an advantage (1)

k96822 (838564) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471612)

He might be a pin-head, yet it should be stressed that a manager isn't hired to do the same job as their subordinates. They should know how to help you by removing barriers, not how to replace you. I would bet that it would be impossible for someone to acquire your extensive skills and aquire the equally extensive skills it takes to manage people. Our brains are only so big and there is only so much time. A manager must be judged on management skills alone. They aren't (nor should be) geniuses, and the must know how to encourage you to reach your highest potential in your position.

Our personality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471443)

You really do subscribe to the borg management philosophy....

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471444)

My first first post

Obvious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471445)

Biggest Hurdle = Keeping Friends.

Only one (1)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471446)

What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump

Remember that people have different capabilities. Not everybody wiil be able to do the job the way you like/want it. That's where your skills will be tested whether you can take it and teach them the way you want it or be a typical PHB.

"Not everybody can dunk from the free throw line" is the mantra that MJ forgot when he went to Washington Wizards office.

Re:Only one (1)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471628)

couldn't agree with you more. basically, try not to micromanage. if they don't do things the way you like, trying to force them to do so will not make things work the way you do.

classic example is bosses threatening to take away web and solitaire because they waste too much time. they don't realize that web and solitaire is not the reason they are "wasting time." they just happen to "waste their time" by using web and solitaire. if those are gone, they will find other means to "waste their time."

try to create an environment where people feel trusted and empowered to do their job on their own terms. if people start to go a bit too far out of reasonable expectations, then take action.

Sure I do, In the words of Glengarry Glen Ross... (1)

wamatt (782485) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471448)

ABC - Always Be Coding!

THE BEATINGS WILL STOP (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471455)

WHEN MORALE IMPROVES

Jesus Christmas (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471456)

Although the new position is pretty boring (I manage normals), I do still have time for all the geeky stuff I used to do before

Like dress up in your fur suit and go to scritching parties...

fucking furries.

WatchThe Office. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471457)

Just watch the british series "The Office" and learn all the correct ways to manage a team. Basically you can't put a price on comedy.

Don't micromanage! (3, Insightful)

Undefined Tag (750722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471458)

For me, the toughest part of getting "bumped up" was giving up control. Let people do their jobs. Let them make their mistakes. Yes, as management, you are responsible. But you are also building a team for the long term. Encourage and correct, don't micromanage.

Hearken to the Wisdom of Dilbert! (5, Funny)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471462)

My problem is: I have no formal (or any other, for that matter) management training.

Everything I ever needed to know about management, I learned from Dilbert.

Now, granted, I don't actually have a job. . . .

Re:Hearken to the Wisdom of Dilbert! (1)

shahruz (232959) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471553)

Dilert is definiately a good reality check, if you see yourself creating a Dilbert moment, you are probably messing up.

All Hail Phil Prince of Heck!

Woah,woah,woah (1)

sktea (692457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471472)

I'm an engineer-turned-manager who just lost an employee, and I suggest you treat the normals just as if they all had real, human feelings.

No, REALLY.

Re:Woah,woah,woah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471535)

Did you look behind the couch?

I have a geek manager (2, Funny)

drivinghighway61 (812488) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471475)

He always insists that we call him Darth Vader. And on casual Friday, he dresses up in a Tron costume.

Re:I have a geek manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471611)


he dresses up in a Tron costume.

Jay Maynard is your boss? -shiver-

Is this a joke? (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471476)

You are likely to be better at something if you enjoy it. If you feel like you were "pushed" into management and don't want to be doing it, then find a role as a technical lead, architect or similar where your primary responsibilities are still deeply technical, not managerial.

Nobody wants to be managed by somebody who doesn't want to and doesn't know how to be a manager or a leader. You don't need formal training, unless you want to advance to higher ranks, then it might help. But for most purposes, you just need a willingness to listen and to talk and to think about things from a non-technology-driven perspective at times.

I am not sure what "Borgish" management methods are (you must be a graduate of Starfleet Academy's MBA program?), but it certainly sounds like something that nobody would enjoy being subjected to. Not everybody is as smart as you, but if you go around treating people like they are a different species ("normals" from your own post) don't expect to develop a good working relationship with them. If this is what you mean by your "personality", then no, that won't be an advantage in a management role, period.

I think of myself as a "geek" in certain ways, I enjoy understanding and creating technology, I like to take things apart and hack on them, and I can spend hours focused on a task intently. But I realize that when I'm operating in a management role, decisions are driven by the best long term interests of the business and the team, not by technology in isolation. And you reap what you sow with the people who work for you. If your team respects your intelligence AND likes you, there is nothing they won't do for you. That's a strong, loyal team. If they think you are a smart geeky asshole and they shit on you regularly behind your back, don't expect them to achieve very good results for you, and don't be surprised when *your* manager realizes how ineffective you are and gives you the boot.

Easy.. (1, Funny)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471480)

1. Get banner printed, "All your bases are belong to us!" 2. Hang banner where everyone in cube farm can see it. 3. ? 4. Profit

Re:Easy.. (3, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471575)

5. Learn "br" html tag. :)

Re:Easy.. (1)

yack0 (2832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471590)

base, not bases.
Thanks

You may reapply for your geek badge in one week. (:

"You have no chance to survive, make your time. "

Re:Easy.. (2, Funny)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471608)

2.5.- Get laughed at by your underlings because it is "All your BASE" and not "All your BASES".

2.75.- Reprint banner, getting it right this time.

3.- Learn to use <P> and <BR>

In Theory... (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471486)

Geeks in management make for a pretty good structure, though they may have little vision for the direction of the organization, rather like having accountants run the company. Dow Chemical used to have engineers at the top and was a pretty decent company to work for. Now it's all suits and they're more concerned with Profit(!!!) & Loss and Stock Value, like too many companies.

Respect (4, Insightful)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471489)

How about you stop calling them "normals"?

Re:Respect (1)

panth0r (722550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471626)

We can't have somebody going around making sense like this!

Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471491)

You've crossed over to the dark side, and there's no turning back. Manager != geek. No more serious coding for you, and no more peer equity with other geeks. You'll only be given status info on a need-to-know basis, and even then, you'll only get a high-level dumbed-down version.

No, kiss your geek hat goodbye, unless you decide to take a new technical position.

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471494)

Hammocks!

When you want output from your team, hit the hammock district.

Tips for management - Try not to manage! (3, Informative)

elzbal (520537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471496)

Think about what you like most in the managers you've had over the years. You probably did your best work under those who didn't "manage" you at all, who just tried to help you to remove hurdles.

Try to emulate that.

Re:Tips for management - Try not to manage! (3, Interesting)

Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471554)

I second this. I had a great manager in the past who had the following philosophy:

1. Hire talented people
2. Get things out of their way

(and, of course)

3. Profit. (Note the conspicuous lack of ???)

My father always said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471498)

to be "Honest, Fair and Consistant". He was an executive VP of a large multi-national corperation and seemed to get a lot of praise from the "normals".

Management starts a long way back (1)

marika (572224) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471500)

It's hard to "become" a manager. You need a lot of people skills and you will need to challenge them a lot, but the basis would be to show respect to those reporting to you it will help your position a lot.

Managing Complexity (5, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471501)

I asked the same question to a former manager of mine and his reply was that managing a business or people is a lot like managing complexity in software design. Of course you can't treat people like objects(pun intended) but principles of modularization, etc. still applies. Just as you don't put all your logic in one method, function, or object, you shouldn't do everything yourself. Delegate stuff out and have some people concentrate on certain things. The old *nix philosophy of doing one thing and doing it really well still applies. Trust your employees to do the right thing without you micro-managing it. In the end, you become the thing that brings all these pieces together.

Good programming practices/philosophy goes beyond CS. It's all managing complexity after all.

Re:Managing Complexity (1)

OreoCookie (814421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471618)

The old *nix philosophy of doing one thing and doing it really well still applies.

Until the person you hired to do that "one thing" leaves and nobody else knows how to do it. Give me a bunch of really smart generalists any day.

Immediately beat up the biggest person (4, Funny)

jptechnical (644454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471503)

That will affirm your dominant position and noone will question your authority.

is it what you want to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471505)

you say "pushed" .. do you want to manage? personally i prefer a manager with a geek background - they tend to understand what we're talking about. unfortunately, deep geeks rarely go for management ( i wouldn't take a manager position for any reason .. i'd say my goodbyes if that path were forced on me )

if you Don't want to manage, cut your losses and go. If you Do want to manage, don't forget your roots. The old axiom of a person rising to the level of their own incompetence has to be broken by the rare competent person that also has the capacity to manage.

good luck! all of us geeks who do not aspire to management hope to find a good geek manager :)

"geeky stuff"? (2, Funny)

jxyama (821091) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471518)

>I do still have time for all the geeky stuff I used to do before.

i see, like posting on /. :)

Management VS Leadership (1)

EnderWigginsXenocide (852478) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471521)

You MANAGE a business. You LEAD people. If you want to make the most of your staff you need to be more than just compotent in the ways of yor business (Management) you need to be able to LEAD. You need to be able in instill in others (or select for) a sense that their efforts are meaningful. No one wants to feel like they're an engine for turning a pile of paper in an in-box into a pile of paper suitable for an out-box. You must be careful not to micromanage. Many who are promoted from technical/service positions into management show up with a "I've got to get work done" outlook. When a they enter management they won't feel soo much like they're getting anything done because they SHOULD be leading others. Do yor best to stay out of peoples hair when they're working productively, afterall, they were the same as you before your promotion and you wouldn't want your boss micromanageing you.

Two Step Approach (0)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471523)

1. Treat people who do what they are supposed to do (and make you look good) really well.

2. Put foot directly to the ass of those who don't.*

Make sure you are a type 1 from your boss's point of view.

It's worked for me. OTOH, I'm getting out of Dodge in the next few weeks. (Tech job, WOOOHOOO!)

-Peter

* If you find this really difficult there is a good chance you are a nerd or a dork, not a geek.

-P

It's not too hard (1)

Mr_Perl (142164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471526)

Be consistent, set realistic goals, reward good results generously and find out what kind of manager you prefer to be.

Books on the subject are plentiful and you'll find it worthwhile to spend a little time reading about management styles and techniques. Many bright minds have studied this subject and have some good insights. You might start with "Contemporary Management" by Jones & George. You should be able to pick up a copy on ebay cheap.

Everybody's different, and have their strengths and weaknesses. Until you study the subject a bit with yourself in mind you won't know what needs improvement.

Remember the past. (1)

fredbox (207869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471530)

Obviously, during your tenure, you were a geek who was managed by a possible normal, who possibly had no skills in management. Just remember how such people make their way through life, identify the most talented but yet insecure geek working for you, and terrorize him (and its gotta be a him, no woman would ever put up with it) into carrying the entire operation on his shoulders while you attend to important "meetings" (usu. involving golf, martinis, mistresses, or some combination thereof). W. will be calling you Cliffy Boy in no time!

Ask what your responsibilities are... (2, Insightful)

flashbang (124262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471532)

The first thing you need to know is what exactly is expected of you. You need to know this for two main reasons. First, you need to know the extent of your job and second you need to make sure you meet managments expectations.

Every company is different and will have some things that are more important than others. Look and adapt from other peer managers.

Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey?).

Most importantly, if you don't know, but you think you should, ask your boss. It's better to establish a clear line of communicaiton with your boss than to sit there and worry about not knowing.

Oh, and have fun with it, and turn the cell phone off when you get home.

Tracking Collars (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471534)

Now is the time to use all of those crazy ideas you see in Dilbert. Think of yourself as Dogbert and go to it, perhaps you'll inspire the next generation of cartoonists!

AKA, really, unless you are senior level mgmt, there really is little you can do to really influence the workplace, and some general ideas would be useless in many places. How about give everybody an office with a door!

Be generous with praise (1)

olyar (591892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471542)

I would recommend "The HP Way" by Dave Packard. One of the fundamental ideas that Bill and Dave built on is that the majority of your employees want to do a good job.

If you start from that tenet - expecting the best from your employees and expecting them to want to do a good job - you'll be way ahead of the pack.

Add to that a habit of telling them "Thank You" as often as you can.

Frontal Lobotomy (1)

1hockeydad (722052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471544)

I'd say the biggest hurdle would be the obvious frontal lobotomy required as part of the management migration.

The Answer Is Simple.... (1)

dlight2k (656378) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471547)

I found disconnecting my brain from the job worked VERY well.

Don't be a geek (3, Insightful)

OG (15008) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471556)

For starters, I'd get rid of the geeks vs. normals mentality. Look at the individual characteristics of the people you're managing. Figure out what parts of the job they like and what parts they don't like. Figure out what they like to do outside of work, as that will give some insight into what makes them tick. Think about what you have in common with them. Basically, just treat them like people.

It boils down to trust (2, Interesting)

bigdady92 (635263) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471560)

Trust in your employees that they will do right by you as you will do right by them. If you can develop this symbiotic relationship between you and your employees then you will go far.

Trust that they will be doing their work, don't harp over their shoulders.

Trust that they will show up on time, not standing by their cube with stopwatch.

Trust that they will be responsible with their actions, don't be another mother to them.

If you can build the levels of trust that coexist between employee and management your life will be easier, but not easy, and your employees will be more productive.

As management of past jobs, I've managed to piss off my employees and them hate me, but on others I followed the above laws and they became one of the must functional and useful teams on the job site.

Golden Rule of Management (1, Informative)

rlp (11898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471565)

Endeavor to be the type of manager that you'd want to work for.

What I've found . . . (5, Insightful)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471580)

I've moved into Project Managment myself, voluntarily. What I've found is this:

1) Remember all those things that managers did that you hated? Be open to the discovery that some of them actually made perfect sense but you didn't see it. Your Geek perspective may have been more limiting than your realize.
2) After you get through #1, take the things that still don't make sense and don't do them. Your Geek perspective can also be liberating.
3) People skills, people skills, people skills. If you can schmooze, talk, flatter, cajole, comfort, query, and chat - and get results, good. If not, start working on your people skills. You will need them.
4) Business perspective. Stay informed of business issues, policies, plans, and news. If you did previously, good.
5) Your Geek past is a great building block. You have an area of strength, start with what you learned in that.

You will have to change, but coming at a job from a different perspective is also a great advantage.

A fantatic technique I was taught - go to people you respect and ask them to list
1) Your two best traits.
2) Your two worst traits.
3) The two best traits of a manager.
4) The two worst traits of a manager.

You need to query at least 4-5 people, but it'll give you a perspective on yourself, on management, and what you need to do to do it well.

Will you get widely differing answers? Yes. But reconciling those answers is part of the learning process.

Good luck.

Carny folk don't make good managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11471582)

The geeks bite the heads off chickens in meetings. It's very distracting. Moreover, carny folk are kinda scary!

Been there, came back (1)

jake_eck (711007) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471584)

What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump

Going out to lunch with other managers. 'nuff said.

Important (2)

whackco (599646) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471585)

I don't know what your specific responsibilities are, however, there are a few easy to follow guidelines for any IT Manager:

1) Treat your people like you want to be treated. Simple and the most effective method.

2) Underestimate your budget requirements by about 5% for every 1/4 issues. Nail the budget right on for the other 3/4. This will allow you to increase your budget year after year without making you look incompetant.

3) Pick your fights carefully. You might want to goto bat for your 'normals' all the time, but this is a bad move, don't forget you are entering a new 'peer' group, and you want to fit in with them.

4) Be a sycophant 40% of the time, but rely on your knowledge and experience for the other 60%

5) You either have it or you don't, don't think you can just read a Tony Robins book and be the best manager ever. If management choice you to become one of them, then they must see something in you. Find that strength and build on it.

Thats all I can think of now. YOu'll probley never read this because likes to troll his readership to -1 land like a BAD manager.

The goal is important (1, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471586)

The thing I learned while managing poeple is that the goal is is more important than the method. You would be amazed at the myriad of ways that something can get done. If you give one of your folks a project, a deadline, and reasonable easy to understand standards, then you should be able to turn them loose. Don't fall into the trap of telling them how to do it- trust them to get it done. If they don't get it done, or they make mistakes, then you can help them a learn a better process. If they get it done though (even if its through a bass-ackwards method that makes your teeth grate) then they have fulfilled their duties.

People will hate you. (5, Informative)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471598)

And you may hate yourself.

After being part of the "mobile work force" for more years than I can remember, the biggest problem encountered in larger companies are people that have been promoted to management based on seniority as opposed to training or skill.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to start a flame war, because I've worked for some people that have no training that were great, and conversely I've worked from BComms where I wanted to go postal.

Managers who are technical sometimes have the tendency to still poke their fingers in where they can. DO NOT POKE. Delegate. Otherwise you are discounting your minions and taking on more than you can chew.

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.

I've worked for so many clueless managers that either have sales backgrounds or technical backgrounds... the sales guys always promise more and the client, not the worker, is their priority. The technical guys usually have stale skillsets and think they can do everything better with PowerBuilder.

Remember - work your people skills. Some people shouldn't be management. Some belong in the trenches.

Geeky Management (1)

sameerdesai (654894) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471600)

The most annoying thing I get from management is non-geekiness. So yes, I would say if the people you are managing are geeks then be a geek with them. When I offer an engineering solution to a problem and get turned down because the "managerial" solution seems to suit the managers, it pisses me off. Kinda like the PHB and Dilbert.

Of course with management you have one level of higher management to report too and I think they would be happy as long as you have keep your productivity within the normal range.

Get some training, ASAP (2, Insightful)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471605)

We've all seen it, or borne the brunt of it. A very skilled coder/plumber/accountant/scientist gets promoted into a management position and turns out to be a lousy manager, who makes life difficult for his underlings with his incompetence. Why does this happen?

Because, even though you were (and still are) a great coder/plumber/accountant/scientist, a high level of competence with code/pipes/money/mesons does not automatically give you the competence in the skills of budget and/or personnel management, like motivation, encouragement, discipline, conflict resolution, appropriately rewarding the good and punishing the bad, etc.

Go take a class like Introduction to Supervision, Conflict Resolution in the Workplace, Budget Process 101, etc. It sounds like PHB-type stuff, but guess what? You're a suit now. If you flail around trying to figure it out on your own, you'll end up a lousy supervisor, and you'll just make your own job harder.

Hurdles. (1)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471610)

"What are the most difficult hurdles for a manager geek to jump"?

The bodies of your fallen.

The One Minute Manager (1)

jerkychew (80913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471613)

I too just started a new life as a manager.

You have to read The One Minute Manager [amazon.com] . It's a wonderful read on how to get people to want to work for you.

Yeah, it's short, and yeah, it's a little cheesy in some parts, but the over all benefit you gain is enormous. This should be the first management book you read.

What purpose do you serve? (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471620)

The sole purpose of managers is to provide the resources and motivation for the people you manage. The only reason you are there is to make it easier for them to get their jobs done. If problems come up, you're a dumping ground.

One more word of advice: treat your secretary very well. S/he will run interference for you and make your job that much easier.

Now, go sign the purchase order some more pens. You're running low.

May I suggest... (1)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471629)

May I suggest you NOT call them "normals". They're people, for f*ck's sake.

What works for me, but I am lucky (4, Informative)

Edunikki (677354) | more than 9 years ago | (#11471630)

I am lucky in that I have capable and self motivating staff. And you would be amazed how rare that actually is . . . Communicate, don't dictate. Talk to people about where they are and what problems they are having. Stress that there is no blame for problems and that you want to catch them quickly to correct them. Reassure and praise where appropriate. From dealings with other companies and departments I am aware that competency is not necessarily the minimum level that you can accept. Tell people when they do things right. Praise them when they do them well. Understand and appreciate what your staff have to do and what their job likely entails. Being able to do their jobs is actually a bonus as it means you can train them if necessary, and dive in if their workload is too much and needs redistributing.
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