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Role of a Manager


The Role of Manager


This vague term describes first and most important trait most managers should have and only few have. If I’m a team member I expect my manager will show leadership and charisma. I want to be ignited to follow his ideas. I need to be sure he knows why and where we are heading. I have to see him around when problems arise. I eager to be managed by someone I’d like to follow even if no one told me so. A good manager is also a good leader but these two are not the same. What a pity it isn’t common mixture.


Help newcomers with learning the organization. Help inexperienced with gaining experience. Help everyone with growing. Help those with problems with fixing them. Easy? No, not at all. First, you need to know who needs what. Then, you need to know how to reach people so your helping hand won’t be rejected. Finally, you need to work carefully and patiently sharing your knowledge in experience in a way which doesn’t frustrate or dishearten people. Repeat when finished.


As a line manager you have some senior management over your head. This is a bad news. Actually there’s usually a lot of crap flying over there and, because of the gravity, it’s going to land down on heads of your team. There will be blame games. There will be pointing fingers. It is your time. Be a shield. Take enough bullets on your chest for the team. You’ll earn respect. You’ll earn a bunch of loyal followers. And that’s how you earn your spurs.


As a manager you’re also an advocate. Devil’s advocate to be precise. You have to present and defend different decisions made up there, in the place where only C-level execs are allowed. Sometimes these decisions you won’t like. But for your people you’re still the face of the company so don’t play the angry boy and act like a man. We don’t always do what we want. After all, they pay you for this, remember?


Sometimes everyone needs a kick in the butt to get back to work at full speed. It would be quite a pleasant task but unfortunately kicking butts is used as a metaphor here. It’s all about motivation. And I have a bad news here, there’s no easy answer for a question what motivates people. You have to learn each of your people individually. Oh, forgot to mention, it takes quite a lot of time to learn what drives all these people.


Yes, an adviser. Not a decision-maker. At least not unless you really have to make a decision by yourself. People will come to you asking different things. Well, they will if they think your opinion may add some value and you’re capable to understand what the hell they are talking about. Of course you can guess or shoot or use magic 8 ball but you better learn (oh no! more learning) what the problem really is and help your team to solve it. Note: it is different than solving it for them, even if you know the answer. If an association which comes to your mind is delegation I must praise your reasoning.

And if you happen to spend two third of your day coding, well, I dare to say you aren’t a manager I’d like to work for. Your people would say the same, but you don’t talk with them so you don’t even know. After all there’s no time to chit chat, you have to code, right?

My comments to this post-

Excellent post. I particularly liked the Advocate and Motivator sections. Many a times, when the Crap falls on team or manager or both, it is really frustrating and as you mentioned, getting paid to work or getting paid to have lots of crap on your face? Not sure what to do when such crap-management becomes a chore.
I have often discussed with my team clearly why this is crap or not crap and if it is a crap, how are we going to manage. Unfortunately the crap-fall is a very risky aspect as, if you manage it well for C-suite folks, your team gives you a Thumbs down in upward review and they create lots of negative propaganda against you. You lose. If you manged Crap well for team, you are going to get a lousy project, that will frustrate you and you either leave or you are asked to leave. Crap will never fetch you a reward! After all, as you mentioned, we are paid to manage crap as well at times, we must try manage it the best way possible.
On Shield, it is easier said than done to take the bullets for team. I have seen only 10% of managers able to do it. Not surprisingly, it helps earn respect of the team, but if management fires a bullet, they want a kill. You cannot escape this bullet. Either you get killed or some other poor team member. We always need an easy kill. This is also a sacrifice, you have to make. Though if blame game comes to you and finger pointed at you, it is good to accept the blame. Similar to the bullet case above, management is very high on Ego and when they blame they cannot lose. Again, get ready for getting killed. Ask for time to investigate and come up with a solution and then deflect the blame. From my experience, management is happy if you accept the blame and then they are happy if you deflect the blame to something or someone, who is management’s pet-peeve, they forget that what the issue was and the matter starts it’s holy journey of ‘blame-blemish and vanish’ cycle. Management is happy that they acted. Does not matter if they achieved anything or fixed any thing.


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