So you wanna be a management star

Here is the thing : after a while in the IT tech area, one feel like stepping to another level. What is it going to be ? Architect ? Consultant ? Marketing and product definiton ? Manager ? This is a post for the ones that made the last choice…

Next stop : management

Most of the times we’ll think this is a natural career move that doesn’t need anything special to be prepared. “Well, I know the job, I know the technology, I know the guys, I know the industry, I know the company : it just going to be a walk in the park“. Well I tell you : it won’t. Especially in the IT industry where we are used to work with 0 and 1s. Working with people is a whole different story.

In the IT world we tend to think that Manager is not a real job, that we all have the soft skills required, probably because there shouldn’t be too many anyway, they are not measurable and quite blurry. We tend to cheat ourselves believing we already have put them in practise.

Believe it or not, there are quite a lot of clearly identified techniques and know-how to master : here is where techITeasy steps in and provide guidance on where to look to become a good, fair, understanding and yet efficient manager : Scott Berkun’s blog.

Scott Berkun

Scott used to be a Project Manager for Microsoft, working on versions 1 to 5 of Internet Explorer. He knows what he talks about when it comes to issues in managing very exposed software projects. He wrote the best seller “The Art of Project management“, which, needless to say, is a must read for managers or wannabes.

Even more interestingly, Scott writes essays (there’s about 60 of them), mostly on project management and these are invaluable assets.

Team, Bullshit and objectives

In Advice for new manager part.I Scott asks the most important question : why to manage. This helps you finding out if your motivations are pure, young Jedi. Advice for new manager part.II addresses more day to day issues especially if you manage a team of people you don’t know in a new environment.

Work Vs Progress allows you to set up and monitor clear objectives. How to learn from mistakes and How to give and take criticism will allow you to become a better professional and a better person altogether.

If you courageously stand up and honestly say “This is my mistake and I am responsible” the possibilities for learning will move towards you. Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding.

Hilarious How to detect bullshit and assertive Why smart people have bad ideas gives you some hint on how to step back in some tense conversations not to get misguided to incorrect decisions. How to interview and hire people shows you the do and dont and the real goals of an interview while Team and Stars discusses the tricky issue of managing ego inflated developers (which happens more with the raise of the Alphageeks).

All-star teams lose. While it’s an honor to be chosen to an all-star team, it’s miserable to play on one.

Sharing knowledge

What makes these reading worthwile is how efficient they are in achieving their objective : sharing knowledge and experience on a very specific topic. Scott puts a huge effort in making sure his words are concise and clear and each issue and is addressed thoroughly and perfectly. In addition, these are a 15 minutes read : they come in very handy.

His theories are supported by every day life examples first and then office experience second, starting with being quite general (and usually quite funny) about the subject and then getting more precisely to the point. A fun yet optimal read for all the wisdom and know-how that is nicely packaged and freely distributed here.

So if you plan to become or a manager, do yourself a huge favor and be prepared. Make sure it’s not for bad reasons and know what is waiting for you. As Scott puts it, this is a great and rewarding job as

There are thrills in bringing a team together and making good things happen, at a scale larger than you can do alone (…) When the project is completed you’ll look at the work done by many people at share pride for the whole thing

But before that :

You will be asked, on a daily basis, to make decisions that impact the lives of other people, (…) Some of your best moves will be out of your team’s view, and the positive impact you have won’t always be acknowledged. Despite any pay raises or perks that come with the job, it’s rare to be fully compensated, in financial terms, for the challenges and tough choices that will inevitably be yours.

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