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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Becoming a Manager: Top 3 Issues

Once again, I was promoting a guy to a managerial position lately. Once again it made me thinking what would be biggest problems for him. And once again I ended up with the same short list.

Delegating

I’d say that’s the single most important problem with new managers. In majority of cases we see promotions of competent people, quite often the best specialists in the team. Then, they have to face the choice: they either complete the task by themselves, which is quick and done well, or they delegate the task to someone else, which is not so quick and not so well. It’s hard to believe that the latter option is the better. It’s hard to believe unless they end up trying to do everyone’s work and fail to do even their own.

Delivering feedback

Just after promotion, the manager changes a way she’s talking about work with the team. Once standing on the side just looking at things, now she’s the one who’s in charge of making decisions. She has to say what went well and what went wrong. And delivering feedback, especially critical feedback, is one of harder parts of managerial work. It’s easier to praise somebody without any critique. It’s even easier to avoid those though discussions. Neither one is a good choice.

Relations with the team

Relations with the team are changed by 180 degrees after promotion. It’s not so easy to set up relations with everyone in the new situation. Not everyone wants to accept the new arrangement. To be honest I don’t have easy advice here. Nothing more than “be yourself.” Try to be honest and fair, although some of the team won’t agree with the boss, no matter how right he is. It’s much easier when promoted person is someone who is fairly long in the team and generally gets on well with others. In those cases chances are good that it will be possible to keep relations well while earning respect. However this is very individual thing and it’s really hard to find a pattern.

In case of new managers I see no problems with the substantial part of work usually – they probably wouldn’t be promoted if it was something expected. Usually I see no problems with most of management basics too – organizing, scheduling, controlling, reporting etc are all OK.

On the other hand I consider three mentioned above as issues, which have to be faced by every of the promoted people. Way and time of resolving them usually differentiate managers who will be good (not necessarily are at the moment) and will go further, from those who will end up as junior managers struggling to keep it all in one piece.

in: personal development, team management

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