Tips for Managing Technical People – Lead from the Front


8 July 2014, by

The following is an excerpt from my new book, “Galvanizing the Geeks – Tips for Managing Technical People”. You can buy the full book on my website, here.

It’s easy to think that, now you’re a manager, your job consists of doing something completely different to those beneath you – that you have nothing in common any more.

It’s not easy to follow a leader who thinks like that. Indeed, why should you? If they are doing a completely different job to you, why should they know anything about what you do?

However big your department, you want it to function as a team. You need to be sharing the good times and the painful times. If a team is working late, you need to be part of that. One of the most rewarding weeks of work that I did was standing in for a senior project manager while he was on holiday, mentoring a junior project manager in charge of a team whose project had very challenging deadlines.

It was actually a great time to be on the project, because they had just turned the corner and, while they weren’t yet in the clear, the burn-up (progress) chart was heading in the right direction. Being there when they worked late and coming in for an early team breakfast was (an enjoyable) part of the job.

You also need to make sure that you are around enough to be able to be a part of the larger team. Of course, you will have many demands on your time that take you out of the office, or into meetings – so make some time in your diary to be visibly part of what’s going on. You never know, you might learn something too.

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