Management 101 : Bad job with a Good Boss is better than a Good Job with a Bad Boss!

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People management is probably the most difficult job in my opinion.  What I meant is for someone who is passionate about people management. What happens to someone who are not passionate about people management and when they are asked to suddenly manage a set of people who are experienced (May be 10+, 15+ years) and /or are a bunch of Alpha’s?

If you are tasked to manage a bunch of senior folks for the first time, following are a set of people management 101 that you could help you establish yourself.

  • Start with Communicating your Vision for the newly formed team/or the team you have taken over.
  • Meet with them on a regular basis and explain what are the steps the team would take to reach your vision.
  • Explain your team members why they are important to you.
  • Explain the team that how what they are doing is helping them, you, business unit and the company.
  • Setup a weekly cadence and repeat. People have short term memory. Bring them together (face to face) on a regular basis.
  • Have regular 1:1s and talk to them on a regular basis. Set Expectations, give feedback and take feedback. If you don’t know how to set expectations, then make it explicit. If you BS that they are senior members and they will self-manage and they don’t need direction etc.…

“Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but rather because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged”Delegation

  • Be Honest and ask your team for advice/suggestions. When you get suggestions/advice, stop your normal BS and listen. You are asking for advice/suggestion, either because it’s not your specialization or may be the other person is better than you.

“People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left” ~ Simon Sinek

  • If you don’t know how their career will shape up, ask them on what they want to achieve, take help from other folks in the company who can help in defining their career roadmap. This is a very important step as most of the 15+ years guys would have hit the glass-ceiling at this point. Helping them with defining the career roadmap, you will earn their trust and respect .

“The problem when someone feels burned out, bored, unchallenged, or stifled by their work is not the job itself but rather the environment and playground rules given to them to do the job at hand” ~ Tony Hsieh

  • When you want someone to work on something, don’t just forward emails with FYI. Call your team members and give them the context. Explain them why you are expecting them to work on it. Emails may not communicate everything. At the end you don’t want your team members to call you as “Post Master“.
  • Show your confidence. When you see email exchanges, don’t keep silence. There are times where you need be assertive, authoritative etc. You might think you are helping your team by being silent, wherein they might think differently.
  • Lead from the front. If only your team members are expected to work and if you work only on managing your manger’s perception, I don’t think you will be successful.
  • Show that you really care. If you say to your team members that they are really very important, then they should also feel it that way. Stop providing only Lip service.

I am sure if you show people that you really care , people will listen and work for you.

At an Organization Level
Whenever there is a change at the leadership level, please handhold your leaders/managers. There are certain cultural aspects and reasons why certain things happen in a certain way. Understand how the new person is managing their team members. Some people are very good in managing perception. You don’t want your team to vanish in a flash.

Software development is based on People and if your best guys don’t perform, there is something more than what you see. Maybe, it is time for the senior guys to speak to your best people and understand. Ultimately, if people don’t perform, company will not be performing either.

Happy Learning!

Image Credit
Harvey Enrile | Unsplash.com
Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Stop Blaming Others. Take ownership of your own team members… at the least!!!

Hiring good people is not easy. It doesn’t matter what role you are hiring (Architect, Manager, Tech Lead, Developers, Automation Engineers. Don’t question me why I have not mentioned manual testers in this list :(), it takes a while to find the right person.

Hire MeI am involved in Hiring people for the last 10 years and my average is 40:1. Unless you are lucky and know someone for the job, you may have to speak to 40 candidates before finding 1 Good guy. This average has not reduced in the last 10 years and I don’t see that reducing. It means on an average to get one good guy into the system, it takes approximately 40 hours (at the least).

After you spend so much time and on board a member, there is still no guarantee that the person whom you hired will work.

If it takes so much time to hire and on board a member, why not we spend time with those people, keep them motivated and retain them in our own teams. This is a question I get every time when I hear a good guy leaving.

I have heard multiple good people leaving off late and my frustrations has gone to its peak last week.

I recently heard a manager saying a good team member is leaving because this guy heard someone else talking for 10 minutes, got frustrated and leaving. I know that, I am a naive person. I don’t manage team members now. But, this immediately came out of my mouth.

Really…. Really…. Really…. Really….

May be, it could be just a triggering point. But, this guy would have left even otherwise. Why can’t this manager see this coming?

More than 1 million employees can’t be wrong, so bosses take heed of this. A Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.

People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. 

If it takes so much time to hire a person, why don’t managers generally spend time with their best guys, motivate them and retain them?

After thinking for a long time this is my conclusion. Generally not every manager gets involved in Hiring. They don’t even speak to candidates and spend enough time before getting them on board. Otherwise, stand in the road with a board “I am hiring” and whoever comes in their way, offer them a job.

When you don’t spend time in hiring (like spending 40 hours), you will not even know what is involved in getting a good guy work for you. It’s someone else’ blood. Why should I care in that case?

Worried People

Guys… Let us stop blaming others. At least let us take ownership for our own people. Start spending time with your team members. Speak to them (1:1 – Once in a month) and understand them. Be available, honest and transparent. Help them resolve their day to day issues. Trust will automatically build. 1 Lac here and there will not become a major issue.

Better Bosses, Better Retention!

Happy Learning!!!


Image courtesy

Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People are not your most important asset!!!

If you are like me, your eyes would have popped out by reading this title. I am reading “Good to Great” after a very long time and am seeing newer perspectives after i started reading this book.

Read this statement now.Right People

People are not your most important asset. The RIGHT people are.”

Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” defines “the right people” as people with excellent character attributes than specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.

Not that specific knowledge or skills are unimportant, but great companies view these traits as more teachable (or at least learn-able), whereas dimensions like character, work ethic, basic intelligence, dedication to fulfilling commitments, and values are more INGRAINED.

Definitely these are not theory. He has written this after researching so many companies for 5 years. I am sure people who are into hiring and executing projects for some time will definitely agree to this.

A must to keep in mind if you are into hiring…

Happy Learning!!!

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People Management : Team

If you are a Manager, your success depends on your team. If you as a team play well you have better chance of succeeding.

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. ~ Babe Ruth

Devil Says:  Don’t worry about the team. You can manage the perceptions of your Manager and your client. You always can find a reason to blame the team.

In my opinion, a Manager plays the key role in building the team, groom and makes them perform. Manager is the one who makes or breaks the team.  He/she is the one who connects the various dots and make it a complete picture.

Starts with your Hiring
Your success and the Project’s Success start with Hiring. If you as a Manager put in enough effort in hiring, you have already crossed 50% of your hurdles.

Inducting, Roles Definition and Expectations Setting
Once the person has joined, everything starts with the way a manager inducts team members in the team.  Define the Roles clearly on who will play what. Clearly specify the expectations at the very first week of a new member joining your team.

Example: A Technical Architect managing/leading a Project and the team members. If you are a manager, this is the last thing you want in your life. This clearly says you as a Manager do not have any clue of what you are doing.

It’s not only important to have the right people in your team. It’s more important to have them seated in the right seats ~ Jim Collins

Manage Emotions
Manage your team member’s emotions on a daily basis. People Management is all about managing people Emotions. You are definitely not managing a computer. Be on the floor. Manage by walking around. Get out of your cubicle or cabin and go around the floor. Get a firsthand experience on what’s going on. Make sure your team feels comfortable. When a project gets started it’s natural that people do not understand their roles, have conflicts etc. If their emotions are managed in the right way, I am sure the team will start jelling well.

Managing Projects is all about Managing Emotions ~ Doug Decarlo

Lead by example
Meet your commitments and make sure your team member’s meet their commitments on a daily basis. Meeting commitments helps building trust with each other.

Do not postpone or Cancel meetings with your team members. ~Common Sense

Set a process to address Conflicts between members
Discuss with your team and figure out how they can handle conflicts between themselves. Build a escalation model so that they can come to you only if things are not resolved within themselves.

Power of 1:1s:
Have regular 1:1’s with your team members. I am sure every company today forces you to enter 1:1 data in the system on some interval. I am not talking about that. Have 1:1’s at least once in a month. The reason why you can have only a maximum of 10 or less people reporting is to make sure that you have time to do this and not for reading news papers online.

Review your expectations and goals set, see how things are going. Give Feedback and take feedback.

Listen to get feedback
It’s not only important to listen to your team members only during meetings, but also when you walk around in the floor. Not everyone in the team will give you feedback. There will be casual comments. Take a note of the comments and review them offline. See if there is anything which is a real feedback, take them and work on it. When your team members see that you have taken their feedback and worked on it, obviously you have scored a couple of more brownie points.

High Maintenance Resources

If you have Super stars in your team, have 1:1s with them on a bi-monthly basis. Super Stars are typically High Maintenance Guys. You have a better chance of growing if you know how to manage Super Stars.

Nothing comes free in the world ~ Common Sense

Get Rid of Bad Apples
If you have a non-performing resource or a bad apple who introduces lot of negativity, have some spine and remove them. Don’t just worry only about your billability. If you are the one who is bringing in the negativity, get rid of yourself from the team.

Be a Role Model.

  • Don’t go give gyan to your team members, saying they need to work hard, get things completed on time etc. If your team members do not see you contributing to your project in a meaningful way there is no way they will listen to you.
  • If your team members are working on a weekend or late night, sit next to them and give moral support. Show that you are really interested in the outcome of the project. Don’t inside your cabin and say I am giving moral support.
  • Don’t give suggestions to your team members only when your manager is around. You may get a temporary mileage, but sure it will not last for long.
  • Make sure you give the confidence, if there is anything which goes wrong you take the complete responsibility and protect the team.

Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk

TEAM – TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE

Happy Learning!!!! 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Retention : Make your People feel “Important”

Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people ~ Mary Kay Ash

Group of People
Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People are more important than processes“. If you are from the greenfield world, then you will definitely agree this.

But, If you are one of the people from the brownfield world, then you would have been taught/trained in the opposite way. “Processes are more important than people”. Which makes also sense to me that if you are still maintaining old COBOL, VB, Powerbuilder or Foxpro code. Processes are the most important thing in that world :). Do Impact Analysis, give an estimate based on the impact, write code, do some testing, move it to staging, wait for a month to get feedback and move to production. If there is a problem go back to the impact analysis document and yell at someone that the analysis was wrong.

Coming back to the point, in the greenfield world, you definitely need excellent people and also processes. Good People with Good Processes produce better software.

In today’s world, to get a decent resource, the chances are probably 100:1 (100 Resumes if you source, you will end up with 1 decent developer). If you need a super star(excellent developer, real technical lead or an hands on architect), then the chances are 500:1 (unless you know someone and hire or extremely lucky, it is definitely the case and the chances are that you find 1 Alpha Male/Super Star once in two years or so).


Image: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I may sound like exaggerating but if you have really done some serious hiring in today’s market, you will definitely agree to this point.

After you go through all this struggle and hire a resource, it is very important to retain them.

How do you retain your people? I am sure after all the hard work you and your recruitment team has put in, you want your team member to stay for a long time with you. Isnt it?

Here are some tips.
I assume that, the salary part is taken care so that we can talk some serious stuff in this context.
0. Build Trust
1. Establish a good working relationship with your people
2. Make your people feel that they are important. Even you as a Manager can do good, only if your Manager makes you feel that you are important. How can this be different with technical resources?
3. Communicate with them day to day (hour to hour) basis
4. Have Regular 1:1s. Listen to them and show them that you really listen and care about them
5. Meet your commitments regularly
6. Be Transparent, open and Honest
7. Start believing in Managing by walking around. Get out of your desk/cabin and move around. Meet your team. Listen to what people say casually. Managing people is all about managing Emotions. If you are not in the field you will not be able to understand the emotions of your resources
8. Get some basic understanding of what people are doing. Start speaking their language (technology). If you as a Manager don’t understand technology, how in the world one can his help people to define their Career Roadmap. Help your team members grow.
9. Identify Bad Apples and get rid of them quickly.

Is this relevant only to first line managers? This is relevant for anyone who has people responsibility.

Spend enough time with your people, listen to them, make them feel important, help them do well and they will produce excellent results for you.

Managing People is a full time job. People Management, if done with the right spirit, can drain your energy and it is not an easy job at all to be a people manager.

If you as a Manager, feel that you dont have time to speak to your team or dont have the energy to do so, it is time for you to think of alternative profession.

No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the Other person feel important.~ Mary Kay Ash

Happy People Management!!!!

Some Useful Pointers

http://www.shrmindia.org/decoding-retention-india-%E2%80%93-defining-what-works-and-why
http://www.etipsly.com/2012/02/how-to-make-people-feel-important.html
http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/workforce-management/employee-retention-strategies/generate-employee-loyalty.aspx
http://humanresources.about.com/od/leadership/a/leader_reward.htm