Managing efficiently a team
However I have experienced different management styles as a team member, and I am convinced that hiring an excellent manager is crucial for the success of any project.
How to recognize such talent in others? And in ourselves?
There is a best seller book called "The One Minute Manager" that is worth reading, even if you are not in a manager position: it offers paths to improve your personal managing skills when organizing, solving problems and getting a team work done on the project.
In the few following lines, I will try to give you a summary of this book, that I really did appreciate.
We commonly divide managers in two groups: the "democratic" managers (centered on people), and the "autocratic" managers (centered on results). I personally prefer the democratic kind (like most team members I guess) because they really care about your feelings and want to make your job exciting and empowering. The problem is, those purely democratic managers are usually not considered efficient by their own hierarchy, as they would rather miss the milestones in order to preserve a good relationship with their teams.
Where is the balance?
World-class managers are well organized and have realized that "people who feel good about themselves produce good results". They define the word "Productivity" as quantity AND quality. The latter is fundamental and often missed by poor managers in their day-to-day activities.
For example, one rule of thumb could be not to make decisions for others: people tend to be accountable for their work when they have decided by themselves how to realize an objective. The bottom line could then then to be crystal clear in the definition of short-term objectives, stated in weekly meetings.
Here are three keys for efficient management, stated in the book:
=> Organize short meetings (2-3 hours) every weeks to review and analyse last week issues, and to plan the objectives for the upcoming week.
=> Write at most one page statement for every goal: this helps to focus on narrow matters and avoid confusion.
=> Ask team members to explain their problems in observable, measurable terms (no place for wasteful grumbles!)
=> Daily records of progress (can help people reach their full potential)
=> Be consistent (praise if things are done right even if many problems arise elsewhere)
=> Specify exactly what has gone wrong
=> Do not attack the person but point out the wrong behavior (avoid defensiveness)
=> Be consistent (reprimand are done wrong, even if everything is OK everywhere else)
These could constitute effective hints for detecting good managers, but also for hiring XP team members, as we need the team to be mature, auto-organised and efficient.
I am convinced there are other qualities that a good manager should have, like being a good information transmitter from team members to hierarchy and vice-versa, having a good ability to listen... Do you think of others?