“What if, I am not good enough to be a manager for my team?”
~ Alvian Usnul, DOT Indonesia’s Project Manager
Becoming a manager right after your college graduation? Well, I know that pain, but let me tell you what I’ve learned from my favorite project manager at DOT Indonesia if you get your first role as a manager especially in software development.
1. Learn Software Development Life Cycle
Well, we are in the software industry so as a manager you have to know how we build software. Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the basic knowledge that you have to know. Learning this particular knowledge will help you to know what your current state in your project. If you don’t know when and how your software is developed, then you might fail to deliver or finish your project.
It is also important to know what methodology or framework that your company used to build software. Generally, they used waterfall, but today software industry seems like to use agile methodology or even Scrum framework.
2. Learn How It’s Work
You don’t have to be a rock star or full stack engineer to be a manager. Don’t worry if you are not good at the technical aspect, but you have to learn how your software is work. If you are managing a fintech project, you have to learn how payment integration is work, what basic security is needed, or why we used cloud as an infrastructure.
Knowing that term is helping you to understand what is client want and what we need to build. So based on that knowledge, you can create a good plan and how to reduce risk at development without always bothering your engineer to clarify what the meaning of “RESTful API”
3. Knowing Your Team
Managing people is hard because people are dynamic and unpredictable. Then managing a bunch of engineering peoples as a team is quite challenging. As a manager, you are supposed to interact directly with your team.
I think a team is supposed to be unique or different from the other team. So knowing who is your team is a good step to managing or leading them.
Get close to your team, interact not only about work but also personal. It is good to know what is your team’s good or weak point so you can manage based on their behavior. But remember, there are some peoples that don’t want to talk or share about their personal space. You have to define your boundary about personal matter.
4. Be Responsible and Reliable
Being a manager or as a leader, it is mean being responsible and reliable. You have to make a bunch of decisions, execute those decisions and take responsibility whatever the result comes out.
Sometimes you make wrong decision and make you or even your team feels bad. Do not run away and take responsibility instead. Focus on the solution and learning experience besides blaming someone or the situation. This is will make you become a reliable person so your team will notice and give more trust to you.
5. Keep Learning and Find a Mentor
Being a leader or manager is about the experience. So don’t stop and keep learning. You may learn leadership from a book, article, or other person’s experience. Want to accelerate? Find a person who has experience for being a manager or leader and take that person as your mentor.
I remember that I was struggling to “get it right” in my past as being a leader because I had no mentor so I did many mistakes that unnecessary. A good mentor may guide you to stay on the right track and also you will learn a better experience.
But remember, you have to make a decision and responsibility by yourself. A mentor only gives you some perspectives so you can make a better adjustment to your decision.
6. Cleared and Measurable Goal
As a manager or leader, you have to know your goal to achieve. This goal will guide you and your team to plan how to achieve that. Make sure your goal is cleared and measurable. If your goal is too general or abstract then you may end up creating poor plan or strategy then you may not know how to deliver that goal. I’ll give you some example of a good or bad goal.
- “Let’s finish this project by next month”. I think this goal is too general. We know that this project must be finished by next month, but how do you describe and measure that goal?
- “We need to finish all this features 2 weeks before the D-day so that we can do a fully functional test and fixing to make sure our client get fully working software”. This goal is clearer because the team knows what should be achieved before the D-day. It’s also measurable because if 2 weeks before the D-day development team can not deliver all the features, the manager and the team need to inspect and adapt their new strategy.
7. Be kind and humble
Being good people is amazing. Talk to your team, get lunch together, get laugh together. A good manager is not only focused on how to get things done but also love to hang out with their teammates. I mean you don’t have to hang out after office hour every day to show how kind you are, but routine greeting and little praising to your team is more than enough.
A routine greeting like “How is your weekend?”, “Are you okay? Don’t work too hard, you have to take a rest a little bit.”, is to show that you care about your team. And you may give them praise if your team did something cool, like “Wow, you’re amazing, John. Client loves your proposed solution.” or something like that.
Your team is supposed to be lead by a human, not a robot or dictator.
You are realized that your experience as a manager or leader is nothing compared to your mentor. So being teachable is a must. Don’t be a jerk that you know everything or you can do it all by your self.
If your mentor is correcting you because you did a mistake, listen to them and follow their advice. If you think that their advice is wrong, you may lure them into a discussion instead of directly blame their advice.
“Remember the difference between a boss and a leader: A boss says, “Go!”. A leader says, “Let’s Go!”
That’s it. I hope these lists will give you a new perspective on how to be a good manager to your team. I will also share my talk about “How To Be a Project Manager In Software Industry” so you may get more insight.
Are you interesting to be next our Project Manager at DOT Indonesia or learning how to become a great leader? If you have our following requirements, then please apply or contact me if you wanna talk about that
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Thank you and have a nice day.