The primary role of management is to make it possible for teams to work. They also provide guidance and direction to work effort.
The role of management in an organization is purely functional. It is not a role any more or less prestigious than any other role in the company. It is similar to the difference between marketing personnel and engineering personnel. The function of management is:
- Set up a plan (vision) for the company, group, or team being managed.
- Ensure that the management personnel can do their jobs with the upmost efficiency.
- Resolve any disputes that arise.
- Act as an interface between employees and upper management
- Track resource use and report costs to higher management.
- Present new ideas for the company to upper management.
- Track project progress and revise estimates or make adjustments.
- Deal with problems and shield employees from them as much as possible to allow them to concentrate on their jobs.
One important difference between managers and other functional positions in the company lies in the fact that decisions made by the manager will affect more people either in a positive or negative way.
- Communication - Learn to listen and be observant.
- Experience - At least 10 years working in a field similar to those being managed. A broad background is helpful.
- Leadership - Leadership is really a mix of many other skills and in many ways is intangable. A true leader, however, is willing to do any task necessary to complete the job. That means, they are willing to do the same work as other employees and get their hands dirty when required.
- Delegation - Good managers must be willing to trust their staff and delegate responsibility and authority.
- Organizational - Being able to organize teams, roles and projects is important. Some organizational requirements can be delegated, however. Having a messy desk does not necessarily mean a manager is unorganized.
Not all individuals have all these skills in abundance, but essential skills require communications and getting along with others.
What to do
- Trust your team and expect professionalism unless proven otherwise.
- Base project estimates using employee estimates times the observed load factor of the team. The load factor can be calculated when iterative development is used. It is calculated based on how long the iteration would have actually taken vs the original time estimated.
- Make sure all team members are heard with regard to ideas and project input when applicable.
- Make sure all confidential meetings with employees stay confidential.
What not to do
- Force schedules upon employees. This is dependent on the project or problem. If there is a major problem such as a network being down it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. For these types of problems or mission critical problems, everything else is stopped until it is fixed. Therefore this is as much a setting of priority, but is normally a short term problem where overtime is justified.
- Be beaucratic with employees that show initiative.
- Fail to reward desired behavior.
- Fail to resolve problems when they occur.
- Keep focused on requirements
- Shield the team from distractions
- Resolve conflicts
Serious project risks that can be caused, allowed, or influenced by management are:
- Excessive schedule pressure
- Creeping requirements
- Poor estimates
- Low quality
- Low productivity
- Inadequate measurement