Make the Manager's Job Less Complex
5 November 2013
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Managing teams seems to be an easy task, from the viewpoint of a team member or individual contributor. However, it is always a tough nut to crack for managers themselves. It's easy until you get the chance to manage a team. To handle the expectations of each individual on a team is obviously not a cakewalk. If you are handling a big team, you have to successfully handle numerous expectations concurrently.
One should focus on certain things to make this task less complex:
Conversation and observation
Always remain in conversation with your team, and observe the project progress. One of the easiest ways to handle conversation and observation is floor walking. This will also help the team discuss issues with managers in informal way and without hesitation.
Many times conversation happens through emails, and thus you tend to miss the correct and intended information. Being a good manager, it is really important that you should be aware of what exactly is going on in your projects.
Generally we hear that a manager should be a good speaker. But that only makes sense when a person knows the material he or she has to deliver. And this can only be achieved through good listening skills. A manager should also be a good listener in order to understand the team's concerns and other issues properly.
During annual appraisals, instead of lengthy discussions about those things that your team members could not perform, you should give them feedback about those strong areas through which they can deliver their best in coming years. In my experience, this discussion might take more time, but the results are really fruitful. We generally don't achieve anything through blame games during discussions.
A manager must also take feedback from team members about himself or herself, and about the betterment of the project. (Try not to commit to anything you can't deliver.)
Converting issues into opportunities
You must have the capability of converting issues into opportunities. Whenever issues arise within the team, either technical or personal, instead of creating panic you should resolve it calmly. It is common to see team members breaking in pressure-cooker scenarios, and at those times you are expected to sail the ship smoothly, thereby setting an example. Simultaneously, you have to ensure that these qualities are getting instituted and inculcated within the entire team.
Make your downline so strong that they will start making good decisions with minimal interference from you. Minimize the dependency within the team. If either you or your team members want to move in some other project for betterment, there should not be any restrictions on the team. A strong downline also plays an important role in smooth functioning of the project.
Reading the above, some people might feel that the job of a manager is just to keep the team happy, whether it is performing or not. I agree that there is this possible flip side, but we should try to practice these skills to make our jobs less complex and to be fair people managers.
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