Five things tech managers need to know

Recently I was asked, “What are five short things you wish tech managers knew?”

Great question!

1. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. If it happened, whatever IT was, don’t go on as though it didn’t. Face it. Talk about it. Get other viewpoints on it. Don’t live in a fantasy world.

2. Simple, direct conversations are magical. Most problems people write to me about can be 10% better just by having a simple, direct discussion with someone. Not sure what to say? Start with #1 above.

3. Stop acting like you should have the answers. Your job isn’t to solve your team’s problems, but to create a team that solves their own problems. You pay people to think; require that they do.

4. Your team has more answers than you think. People email me regularly with questions I couldn’t possibly answer, such as “What motivates Jim, my Front-End Engineer?” or “What is holding my team back from being great?” Your team is a gold-mine of answers, individually and collectively. Learn to treat them like a high-priced consultant, and engage their whole brains. Learn to ask them questions, then sit back and listen. Oh, and take lots of notes.

5. Let everyone lead. Management might be your job, but distribute leadership responsibilities and activities across the team. Leadership is a skill that is accessible to everyone who wants to learn.

Bonus thought
No one is a “born leader”, but anyone who wants to can learn to lead. It is a skill. Don’t confuse extroversion and confidence with leadership.