Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Good Manager

I read Lewis Cunningham's article today What Keeps you at your Job?

This is something I think about quite often. I am in a very chaotic, immature organization currently. The process to deploy code changes about every other day and of course non of it is documented. Then there's the fact that I had complete control at my previous job, I was the DBA, Architect, Web Developer and Designer (suck at that), and most importantly Database Developer. I had a very good manager who just literally let me run wild (within reason of course).

For me, that was a perfect situation. I felt I was under-utilized at my previous job and that was the perfect opportunity to flex my muscles. I learned a great deal there and I am forever thankful for that.

One of the big reasons I took my current job was because of the chaos and the immaturity of the IT organization. There are countless opportunities to help shape the future, to build the foundation. I'd also get to experience life in the for-profit corporate world where performance is rewarded financially. There's also significant room to advance relatively quickly compared to more established environments.

I have learned things on the technical side, but far and away my biggest gain in knowledge is in how to do software development in a team environment and the peculiar politics of a company.

I have my manager to thank for that. He is a former military officer who attended one of the military academies. He has worked in our industry for a number of years and is our subject matter expert on the financial side of things.

  • He gives us (developers) the opportunity to voice our opinions.
  • He gives us a view into the politics.
  • He gives us the big picture view.
  • He is fair.
  • He does not do things just because that's the way they're done. He fights those battles so that we don't have to do it the wrong way.
  • He backs us up.
  • Shit doesn't roll downhill with him.
To me, those are all terrific qualities. When I've screwed up, he tells me; usually though, he asks me questions so that I will come to the realization. He's been an outstanding leader and most importantly (to me anyway), a teacher.

If he ever decided to leave, I might just have to follow him.


Unknown said...

Sounds like you have a great manager. That's unfortunately a rare find.

I think you are demonstrating the results that can be achieved if the manager is courageous enough to embrace the team and set a clear direction ... i.e. do I hear some measure of loyalty in your words? Some measure of commitment to your work? A yearning to excel?

It's a rare thing, and a rare manager that can create such an environment.

And I wouldn't mind betting you will have stories to tell later in life .. to future team mates, your children etc. About the "best job i ever had"!

But don't discount the fact that a good manager cannot force this situation upon you, it needs a willing team.

I am reminded of a recent article on the Trusted Advisor ... "I Can't Make You Love Me--If You Don't"

.. I can't make you follow me--if you won't

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Great posting. Refreshing to read some managers will stand up for you. I work at a job with lots of unions. There is ALWAYS a "wall" in between the groups. Drives me crazy!

Again, good posting!

oraclenerd said...


Good article, very true.

You definitely hear loyalty, commitment and the yearning to excel. The latter two I brought to the job, the second was earned by his actions. I believe that he sees my commitment and my desire to be the best I can be and he has/is helping me to achieve that. It's still weird because it's not so much technical, but I think he has helped me to refine the softer skills that are required.

I can't speak for my entire team, but I believe they share some many of the same thoughts about our manager. It's a chaotic, challenging and fun environment. Can't be that!


Thanks! Those walls are never very fun. The CIO made my manager the owner of this particular process from tip to tail which crossed many groups. It was challenging but I think he did a great job in getting things done.

down with silos!

Quecumber said...

is your manager hiring? :D