Do you really want to be a manager?

Notes from Prototypes, Process and Play Conference, 2017

Image from The Mars Agency

Suzanna Bierwirth, CCO of The Mars Agency, gave a brilliant lightning talk at PPP today. Below are my notes.

Before you go into management, consider — do you want to manage, or do you just want more cash?

How are you going to manage yourself once you are a manager?

  1. The work is no longer your work. Delegate or die.
  2. Help others succeed at the IC work.
  3. Find your inner circle
  • People you trust
  • Person who will call you on your BS
  • Person who understand your vision
  • Don’t change yourself — don’t think you have to be perfect or a super star. Build on your strengths. Perfect who you really are.

Managing your people

  1. Know your people
  • Why are they there?
  • Do they want money?
  • Do they want to advance their career?
  • What is going on in their life?
  • Find your “informer” — the gossip who will keep you informed

2. Know what your people are good at

  • Know what their superpower is
  • Don’t put people on projects where they are set up to fail — work with their strengths

3. NEVER throw your people under the bus.

  • All the work that comes out is your responsibility.
  • If your team messes up — it’s your mess up

How to manage your boss (from boss’ point of view)

  1. Know how your boss needs to receive information
  • Do they hate long emails?
  • Do they prefer in person communication?
  • Prefer texts?

2. Don’t let me hang there — I have a boss, too

  • Don’t let me get blind-sided.
  • Don’t come and dump emotion on me
  • Bring me information

3. Don’t come to me in a panic. Bring me options for your problem.

  • Help me give you good input

4. Have a plan when you talk to me

  • Frame the problem appropriately
  • For example, as a manager going to your director, don’t say “I need to hire people!” rather, frame the business problem:
    “I am turning down work and we are losing money. We just can’t handle the capacity.”
  • When your boss says “Maybe we should hire more people!” let them know how brilliant that is.

Do you have any tips for people transitioning into management? Please share them!