Moving Geeks, Not Mountains.

Opening Case –

The scene was set. Billy, a programmer for XYZ-Tech, had just completed a project generating great net profit along with 16 cans of Mountain Dew and 22 Hot Pockets in four days. Proceeding Billy’s great work, his manager actually got promoted to principal. It was the first time Billy responded positively to a manager and showed a glimpse of his potential since graduating Manga Cum laude from CalTech. With a management position open and Billy’s pristine performance on the biggest project to date of the fiscal year, he could be up for promotion to manager. Billy, feeling confident in himself, would take the position if offered.

More background on the case –

  • Billy has been with XYZ-Tech for 3 years
  • Billy actually came up with a new algorithm to calculate profit margin, asset turnover, and cash conversion cycle
  • Billy does not know the name of anyone else on his team and called his manager “Tito.” His manager’s name is actually Stephen
  • Billy’s manager actually would take him a mountain dew and hot pocket every couple hours
  • Billy thought being the most efficient programmer would make him a great manager

Should Billy be the person promoted to manager? If yes, why? If not, why? After reading

After reading The Geek Leader’s Handbook section on moving geeks to management positions, I am convinced Bill should not get promoted to manager.

Reasoning for not being an advocate for Billy’s potential promotion –

  • Just because Billy’s manager was promoted, does not mean he has to be promoted too
  • Despite Billy’s brilliance, his social skills do not seem up to par with demands of a management position
  • Even though individuals can be promoted early on in their career to manager, Billy does not seem mature enough yet — he has barely responded positively to a manager after three years and had to be brought a hot pocket and mountain dew periodically
  • He did a great job his last project he needs to establish himself more as a team player

I many sound harsh for not advocating on Billy’s behalf. Oh well, life moves on. Now, let’s talk about the logistics of a geek, more mature than Billy, actually being promoted to manager.

To the geek who is being promoted, understand you will not get a lot of sympathy during your transition to manager. Let’s take quick listen to Michael Scott explaining the word boss, a position of authority, in thirty seconds:

“Now boss is just slang for jerk in charge.” -Michael Scott

Well said, Michael Scott, well said.

Promotion to management is not a walk in the park. When you get a promotion to manager, there is a pay raise but there is also an increase in liability on your behalf too. Remember, “it is normal to feel stressed, confused, and exhausted during the transition” (Glen & McManus, 2014).

Office break. Take a moment to watch the epic Dunder Mifflin basketball match of the century.

Why in the world would Michael Scott waste his time to have Dunder Mifflin employees compete in a recreational basketball game? Yes, Michael Scott is insane and does ridiculous things on a regular basis but he actually made an ingenious move. Michael Scott not has a picture of how people work with others and compete in adversity from a simple recreational basketball game in a storage garage.

Geeks, listen closely, not everyone is motivated by the same things as you. It is your job to figure out how individuals on your team are motivated and what situations they thrive the most in.

Find out how each person needs to be led. This can take time but it is worth the patience. One you find out strengths of individuals on your team, you start tailor a work environment where everyone can thrive, not as individuals, as a unit.

Find out how you can use individual strengths to build a fierce team. Take a chance and push your team out of their comfort zone, to an extent. Take your team out to lunch, join a recreational sports league, or be advertuerous and go skydiving.

Okay, you may have thought your idea to take your team skydiving was brilliant. Turns out you peed your pants midair and your team never let it down. Below is an example of what not to do when an occasion of this sort arises:

Remember, you are the manager, the person with authority, you must have thick skin. Do not allow your team to dictate your actions. All you geeks in management, stay strong.

Geeks do have great potential to be great leaders. Some may need more training that other, but they can be solid managers. Remember, at the end of the day, it is not moving a mountain, it is moving a geek to management.

P.S. I think the manager who got promoted to principle should have gotten Billy a snicker’s candy bar instead of Hot Pockets. Billy turns into a nerd when he is hungry and under stress.

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