In the tech industry, managers play a pivotal role in shaping the work environment, driving innovation, and nurturing talent. However, not all managers are created equal. A good manager elevates their team, fosters a positive environment, and leads by example, while a 'normal' manager merely oversees operations. In this article I will provide insights into the traits and actions that separate good managers from the rest, compiled from the shared experiences of tech professionals and my own I have been earning as a manager for the last 4 years.
A Good Manager is Not Just an Individual Contributor with Authority
The best managers understand that their role is significantly different from that of an individual contributor (IC). Rather than assuming the role of "IC plus authority", they adopt a leadership stance that focuses on supporting and enabling their team to do their best work.
Trust and Engagement
Good managers trust their team, but they also stay engaged and aware enough to know when to ask the right questions. They provide the team with the autonomy to do their work while maintaining a supportive presence, stepping in to provide guidance when necessary.
Shielding the Team
A good manager runs interference for the team, shielding them from organizational politics when possible. They ensure that their team is focused on their work and not distracted by unnecessary bureaucracy or ad hoc requests from upper management.
Providing Necessary Resources
Good managers make sure the team has the tools they need to succeed. If a necessary tool is missing, they relentlessly pursue a solution, demonstrating their commitment to the team's success.
They establish good relationships with other teams and leaders within the organization. These relationships are leveraged to help the team, particularly when there are dependencies on other teams.
Elevating the Team
Good managers consistently highlight the value of the team and its accomplishments. They don't take credit for the team's work; instead, they take pride in creating an environment that allows the work to thrive1.
Communication is key to successful management. Good managers clearly communicate expectations and the reasons behind them. They also provide their team with enough context about the business to make their work more meaningful.
Good managers excel in crisis management. They are willing to take the blame for failures publicly, then coach individuals privately. They are not afraid to speak truth to power, even when it affects their standing within the organization. If layoffs or similar challenges are on the horizon, they subtly prepare their team, ensuring they aren't caught off guard.
A good manager clearly states their values and sticks to them, which builds trust over time. This predictability provides a sense of stability and trust within the team.
Effective managers have regular one-on-one meetings with their team members. These meetings serve as a platform for communication, coaching, and feedback. However, the frequency of these meetings should be adapted to the current needs of the team and the individual.
How to become one of them?
Empowering Team Members
Good managers trust their team members to do their work. They don't impose unrealistic deadlines, and they respect their team's input. They also protect their team members from requests that would otherwise monopolize their time.
In conclusion, good managers understand that their role goes beyond overseeing operations. They actively work to support their team, foster a positive environment, communicate effectively, and lead by example. Their actions and approach elevate them from 'normal' managers and make them leaders who inspire their teams to achieve great things.
This article aims to provide reliable, trustworthy information based on real-world experiences.