Managers Create a System that Allows People to Contribute
One of the biggest things you can do as a manager is to make sure that people can contribute. That means that the technical staff are not multitasking on multiple projects. If you and your peers manage the project portfolio, the technical staff can manage the technical work. That’s part of creating an environment in which people can work.
You might also have to create communities of practice. Managers are not the only people who have expertise—in fact, managers often don’t have the expertise any longer if they are doing a good job managing. But people need to be able to discuss their technical concerns with others in the organization. So, you can create and enable communities of practice.
In a community of practice, you help people with similar jobs or interests get together, then you step back and watch the magic happen. You might organize time for an open space, arrange lunch-and-learns, or plan more formal coaching and mentoring. On a project or a program, you might have to be more formal to make sure that the architects or testers or business analysts share information, risks, and progress on a regular basis. Whatever the reason for your communities of practice, your role as a manager is to facilitate the initiation of them.
Don’t Use a Ranking System as a Substitute for Management
Do you want to know how people are doing? Provide feedback often, from peers and from managers. Do you want to make sure their salaries are equitable? Don’t rank them. Instead, have one-on-ones and make sure you, as a manager, know what they are doing and what their value is to the organization. Especially don’t use a ranking system to force people into a curve. If you’ve been hiring, paying attention to cultural fit, and providing feedback and training, you don’t have people in the bottom 10 percent.
There is no evidence that ranking systems help. There is significant evidence that ranking systems hurt. Don’t use them—unless you want to destroy collaboration in your organization.
Read all of Johanna's Management Myths here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-Ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes