The Manager Disfunction

This post is not quite technical nor has it anything to do about technology. It’s actually a list of suggestions, guidelines if you will for team leads and managers. A few things that I want to get of my chest.

It occurred to me that lately that team leaders and managers often loose their touch with reality. A team, which is used to work together, can make a lot of nice things. You would be amazed what is possible if a few people that share the same interest can accomplish. The only problem is that often managers forget that a team also express their concerns for the project. If they warn you for imminent dangers, it’s not because they are lazy but because they are genuinely concerned.

Therefore… my dear managers and team leaders, take 10 minutes of your precious time to read this small article. Don’t take this as an offence but rather as suggestions. I tell you this out of experience and even though some of the remarks may seem futile… Keep them in the back of your mind, they can make a world of difference…

1. Remember that your team members are also human beings. I agree that it’s not always easy to find common ground on the office floor. But there is no need for sneering, yelling, diminishing and so forth. Always stay calm and rational. Even if a team member expresses critique toward you, stay calm and polite, you can work it out.
2. As stated before, if a team member expresses a concern, listen! They are not trying to give you a hard time, they are trying to help you. Encourage this behaviour. Trust me it’s a lot better to discuss these points BEFORE your team start developing than to fix them in a later stage.
3. Set realistic goals. Don’t just go about a schedule things, look at the team you have available, look at their qualities and make a planning that is possible and realistic. Not everyone has the same skillset or can do the same amount of work. Try to get a good idea about who can do what and how much.
4. Know what you want. If you ask A, be sure you want A. Don’t change it to B or C or D 20 times in a row. It’s okay to forget something or to add and even change something if there is no other way. But try to keep this to a bare minimum. It will take precious time and resources to change development.
5. For crying out loud, keep track of the planning! It’s not that hard to keep track who is on leave and who is not. Work toward this. You would be amazed how often this is forgotten.
6. Listen to reason. I know business life is hard but miracles will not happen. If it’s not possible it’s not possible. Let your team find another way but do not force them down a dead end road.
7. Following to “listen to reason”. Don’t get gold fever, money is, sadly, important in our society but it isn’t everything. Make realistic decisions, keep track of your budget and try to act fast and pro-active toward problems. Don’t go making rash decisions just because you can make more money.
8. If you organise a team event, and a member wishes not to join, respect this choice. Don’t force them into things they don’t want to do. Someone who doesn’t want to be at a team event can really ruin the mood. If a person doesn’t want to join, he probably has his or her reasons. It’s not the end of the world… (what do you mean: is this about me? Ofcourse not… >_>)
9. Try to respect the work hours. Don’t start calling people at weekend or in the middle of the night. Yes the company needs are important but so is personal space. Keep the work at work and keep the nightly or “weekendly” interventions to a minimum. Trust me, people will appreciate this.
10. If there is a problem with a team member, discuss this with this person and not with a superior, director, etc. There is no need to go behind this person’s back. Again, I’m sure you can solve the issue together.

I am more than aware that it’s not always easy to follow these line and that not every team member is as easy to work with. But again, try to follow these as much as you can, it will earn you a great deal of respect.

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