Geek to Manager

Are you a Geek? Have you ever dreamed of being a manager, but haven’t been sure of how to get started? Well look no further, this chapter is designed to take an average Geek and turn them into a productive, motivating manager.

Managing is a tough job, especially Geeks, who are a little bit different. Being responsible for yourself and your own job can be difficult at times, but managing and being responsible for other people as well is on a whole different level. One thing to keep in mind about managing is the just because you, or someone, is very good at a specific skill, doesn’t mean they will be good at managing other people. Doing something yourself and teaching others are two different things. I have known people who are incredibly talented at one thing, but an absolute train wreck at trying to teach other people how to do it. There needs to be a mix between the two. Technical skills are good, but social skills, or soft skills are essential when managing.

Some of the skills, among others, outlined in the book include, letting go of doing, knowing what managers do, measuring success and crossing boundaries. I will talk about measuring success because I believe it is one of the most important things about being a manager. If you are not being successful, then what are you doing? Being successful as a manager is a lot harder than being successful as a regular employee. Your success is judged on how others beneath you perform and it can be hard to control what others do. One thing that popped into my head as we were discussing this chapter was an example of motivating employees by putting up personal statistics within the company to see who was doing the best, and being the most productive. This ties directly into the chapter, “Geeks spend their early lives being measured by personal productivity”. I think that this extends to more than just Geeks. For example, a college coach of a soccer team would have each player tracked and their statistics tracked in each practice and a leaderboard set up in the locker room so everyone knew where they were at. This is a little bit like the office example we heard in class. Seeing personal results in direct comparison next to someone else can breed competition and bring the whole group up. However, it must be done correctly or it can backfire and cause problems.

Another important thing is to have your employees back when it comes to other managers, customers, etc. One of the best managers I ever had was at a restaurant and he always on the employees side, but in a way that did not deter the customer. If there was a problem with the customers he would always handle it smoothly while being understanding with customer, but at the same time not tossing us, the employees, under the bus. This earns you trust and makes you more likable which in turn generally creates a better environment for work.

Managing is difficult, and it is not for everyone, if you are interested, it would do you well to do some research and learn about things before diving headfirst into the job. Some people who you might think would be excellent at managing are not, and someone people you might not expect have a talent for motivating others and just needs a little bit of work to cultivate it. Again, like all social skills no one is perfect at it and it takes time, but the best thing to do is keep an open mind and be willing to communicate and learn.