What Congruent Managers Do

Oct 21st, 2002 by Tony in QSM3

Over the years I have interviewed people on dozens of well-managed projects. When I ask the project members how their managers contributed to their success, here are the things they said most often:

Our managers contributed to our success by

  • offering positive reinforcement
  • giving precise and clear instructions, and always being willing to clarify when they’re not clear
  • not constraining workers any more than is essential
  • letting people fully explore the possibilities
  • simplifying tasks whenever possible, yet making sure the tasks aren’t insultingly easy
  • making the time frames clear and giving the reasoning behind them
  • paying attention to people’s skills
  • balancing the workload among all employees
  • ensuring there is some real part for everyone to play
  • teaching how to be supportive by being supporting of employees and each other
  • teaching how to trust by trusting each other and the customers
  • remembering what it’s like to be an employee and to be managed
  • answering questions correctly and honestly to build trust
  • getting good consulting advice and using it
  • creating a vision of the problem and communicating it clearly to everyone
  • providing organizational guidance whenever employees need it
  • setting things up so people can experience early success
  • not asking people to do things they aren’t able or willing to do
  • creating an environment in which it’s okay to have fun
  • making their objectives clear at the beginning
  • being available to workers and being generous with their time
  • understanding and forgiving mistakes
  • valuing creative approaches, even when the approaches are different from what they had in mind
  • not forcing people to be something they’re not
  • finding the resources employees genuinely need to do their jobs
  • changing their plans to fit environmental changes
  • resisting the temptation to change the rules in the middle of the project unless it is absolutely essential
  • explaining the reasons when something has to change
  • always being up front with employees, even when it’s embarrassing
  • genuinely wanting people to succeed
  • oh, yes, and occasionally making good decisions about hiring and firing subordinates

This sounds like an environment in which I’d like to work. It also sounds like the manager I’d like to be.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 3, Chapter 6

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