My ideal manager

PEOPLE QUIT THEIR BOSS, NOT THEIR JOB – this was a really interesting article that made me think a bit on how an ideal manager should look like giving that I have been working with so many managers during my 15 years of “corporate experience” and (most importantly) I am doing this team-manager job for the last 5 years. Here is my view on this role simplified to only 3 vectors.

Energized Leader
My ideal manager must always demonstrate clear vision on what needs to be accomplished while being inspired and enthusiastic about the challenges and the things we’ll learn along the way. Details on how to implement this vision may not always be clear but my ideal manager will know how to use me and my teammates to figure out all the challenges instead of doing all the work himself and giving us just “work”. Things will not always be easy and we will sometimes feel beaten down and ready to give up. My ideal manager will pick us up and instill in us that energy necessary to break any wall and touch any goal, no matter how hard that would be. More important, at the end, my ideal manager will show us our great results and will say: “This is all your doing guys! THANK YOU!”.

Signs you are not working with an ideal manager:
– when you are leaving from a meeting with your manager you do not feel energized, ready again to break mountains down in order to get this project succesfull.
– your manager is presenting team’s achievements as his own

Trustful Partner
My ideal manager must not behave as my boss. He must be my partner. Moreover, he must be a partner I can fully trust in. I should be able to talk about any issues, concerns I have about my work or my skills without the fear of being judged or punished in the next annual review. Even if I am fully responsible for my work, my ideal manager should always be available to help me and to support me unconditionally. My ideal manager should be the safety net that will allow me to take (calculated) risks and to try out new things in order to get that super-challenging project done.

Handling mistakes – this is very important. When I am doing mistakes my ideal manager should not focus on criticizing me but on working with me to help me understand what I did wrong and how to do better next time. He should help me use this (already difficult) experience to grow. He should create a safe environment where people are encouraged to try new things with the risk of making mistakes instead of an environment where people fear for being punished for making any mistake.

NOTE: While I am encouraging a certain relaxation toward “making mistakes” topic, I am not saying that mistakes are good no matter what. I believe that the following saying explains best how this topic should be approached: “Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Make sure you do not make the same mistake twice!”

Signs you are not working with an ideal manager:
– you are thinking about moving out of the team / company and you do not feel comfortable to talk to your manager until it’s too late (e.g. you’ve already signed the next contract)
– your failures are your failures alone; your successes are team’s successes (or worse – your manager’s)

People Developer
My ideal manager must genuinely care about my personal development and make sure he finds the perfect compromise between his interests (delivering the new projects) and mine (new skills, new career opportunities etc). More importantly, my ideal manager is a person I can constantly learn from on topics like software engineering and technologies we are / going to be using in our project to project management, product management and the market we are playing in. Yes… my ideal manager needs to be THAT good!

NOTE: I need to clarify one thing which is usually not well understood… My manager is NOT responsible for my personal development. I am the only guy responsible here. My manager’s role is as enabler: to identify opportunities to align project goals and mine so we can have the ideal scenario where projects are being successfully executed while I am also growing professionally.

Signs you are not working with an ideal manager:
– your manager never asked you what do you wanna do / explore in the next 3-5 years
– you are not taken into account for opportunities you are interested in

Am I asking to much???

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