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Moving to Management

Matthew Moran / InformIT

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Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

I often hear people complain about their manager taking credit for their work. Although I have rarely seen this in practice, I know it exists. A good manager gives more credit to his staff than he takes himself. He understands that his ability to create high producers is what he is held accountable for.

Promote Your Team and Its Members

Career development necessarily includes some self-promotion. In a management role, however, promoting your team is of far greater value. Doing so accomplishes several objectives:

  • Your team is held in higher esteem As a manager, your success is largely gauged on your group as a whole. If you promote your team—their strengths and their accomplishments—your team will be viewed as stronger. A stronger team is looked to for better projects. This can end up being self-perpetuating. As you solve more problems, you get the better problems to solve.

  • Your team members develop loyalty My son had a teacher who was emotional and, at times, bitter. Eventually we moved him to the only other available teacher. The teacher we moved him to was known as the strictest teacher in the school. Later, knowing how strict she was, I asked my son if he was happier in his class.

    “Yes,” he replied.

    “But isn’t she strict?”

    “Dad,” he replied, “she’s strict, but she’s fair.”

    A hard/demanding boss, one who pushes his staff but is fair and promotes his team’s successes, is typically okay to work for. You know that you are required to work and to achieve, but you also know that your manager will go to the mat for you and recognize your contribution. This creates loyalty.

Foster an Environment That Allows for (Even Celebrates) Failure

To create the type of environment in which innovation and creativity flourish and where people take initiative, you must allow for and even celebrate failure. The fear of failure is the single greatest hindrance to initiative and innovation.

When staff members are afraid to take calculated risk because of fear of repercussions, they are unlikely to push for new and innovative solutions. Creating innovation is necessarily risky. If you are to have a department and team that are viewed as innovative, you and your staff must be able to fail with some degree of safety.

Of course, this does not mean or require you to allow for foolish and blatantly risky projects. Putting a company’s data or operations at risk is irresponsible.

In creating a culture that allows for failure, you must emphasize the need for logical controls and strong backup and recovery options. In addition, creating segregated lab environments is a wise course of action.

Although you are ultimately responsible for the actions and success of the team, your employees must have the authority, tools, and responsibility to correct their own mistakes. The idea is to give them the ownership of the full project—they own the success, and they own the failure. If a project or task goes awry, your staff must have the mentality that immediately creates a corrective action plan and puts it into place.

Create a Project/Contract Mentality with Those You Report to and Those Who Report to You

I’ve mentioned Bruce Tulgan’s book titled Winning the Talent Wars . In it, Tulgan creates the case that corporate America is no longer interested in hiring employees. Instead, companies want to bring on talent when needed. They are interested in project skills for project success.

To have a team that is successful and that is viewed as a valuable addition to the corporate team, you must foster a project-based mindset.

You must be able to assign the projects to your staff—along with the responsibility of that project’s success. When doing so, the staff member becomes the de-facto project manager, and every other member of the team becomes a resource for his use. It is then the staff member’s responsibility to manage the scheduling of those other resources.

Of course, with newer employees and those who struggle with this type of project ownership, your allocation of responsibility should be according to their ability.

It is a recipe for failure to assign too much project ownership to someone whose abilities do not match the responsibility. Your success as a manager rest with your ability to assess, develop, and manage that ability in your staff.

Conclusion

Although the list of skills to move to management is not long or complicated, the acquisition of those skills is a lifetime of work. It is no mistake that good managers are well compensated and highly valuable.

To make the move to management, you need to make a commitment to yourself. You need to commit to personal growth, largely remove yourself from emotional office politics, and create a plan in which you develop the key management skills discussed in this chapter.

And you need to start managing and leading now! Good managers appear because their actions make them natural choices for the position. If your plan is to take a management role only when the pay and position are presented, you might never get your opportunity.

Actions & Ideas

  1. Do you have aspirations for management? If so, what can you do now to adopt a management approach to projects and your career? Record your thoughts in the space provided.

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  2. Identify a project that has no clear manager—even a small one. Offer to take ownership of that project. It’s not important whether you’re called a project manager—just that you own the success and resources needed for the project.
  3. Do you think in terms of projects or of daily tasks? Work to create a holistic project mindset.
  4. Consider purchasing project management software, such as Microsoft Project. Tutorials are available online to help you master its use.

© 2008, InformIT


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