Now, imagine other people are different from you

28 Feb 2019

How the same person can be the best and worst manager

I’m currently working at the largest company I’ve ever worked for. That, along with being at the $previousGig for nine years (which was the smallest I’ve every worked for) meant that I have a lot of re-learning to do. A lot of growth and change happens in nine years.

There is a lot of advice when you get promoted that takes the form of “Imagine what you would have wanted from __________?” You can fill that blank in with your manager, your peer, etc. When you get promoted to a line management position this looks like: “I’m going to prioritize all the things I wish I had for my direct reports.” What this approach misses is that—all your direct reports do not work like you—their brains are fundamentally different.

This is something I am learning quickly. Spending nine years working with a very small team of people led me to believe that most engineers were like us. By the end of nine years we were finishing each others sentences. Great for spreading information, knowledge, and decisions. Bad for…just about everything else.

One of the more fundamental differences in people’s brains are how they collect and organize information (these types are obviously not exclusive, this is a fluid spectrum). There are mechanical, and methodological types. And there are organic, and freewheeling type. I am, undoubtedly the former. Key take-away: There is nothing right or wrong about being one or the other. Both types are smart, intelligent, and get things done. It’s merely how they go about it that is different. And that makes working closely with someone of the other type very difficult, because each type thinks the other type is bonkers.

When you change roles the things you wanted may not be the the things your team wants, or needs. Being a manager means taking care of your team. It does not mean doing what you wish was done to you. It is not some sort of strange business-revenge-situation; or even a business-savior-complex: “If only everyone did it my way there would be profits AND world peace”

You have to understand who you’re working with. You have to understand how they tick, how they get things done. Otherwise, some of your reports will start looking at you like the worst boss they’ve ever had. This is just one piece of the puzzle to demonstrate to engineers that when they become a manager they’ve changed careers.

#Management  #Sofware Engineering  #Personal Development