People management is probably the most difficult job in my opinion. What I meant is for someone who is passionate about people management. What happens to someone who are not passionate about people management and when they are asked to suddenly manage a set of people who are experienced (May be 10+, 15+ years) and /or are a bunch of Alpha’s?
If you are tasked to manage a bunch of senior folks for the first time, following are a set of people management 101 that you could help you establish yourself.
- Start with Communicating your Vision for the newly formed team/or the team you have taken over.
- Meet with them on a regular basis and explain what are the steps the team would take to reach your vision.
- Explain your team members why they are important to you.
- Explain the team that how what they are doing is helping them, you, business unit and the company.
- Setup a weekly cadence and repeat. People have short term memory. Bring them together (face to face) on a regular basis.
- Have regular 1:1s and talk to them on a regular basis. Set Expectations, give feedback and take feedback. If you don’t know how to set expectations, then make it explicit. If you BS that they are senior members and they will self-manage and they don’t need direction etc.…
- Be Honest and ask your team for advice/suggestions. When you get suggestions/advice, stop your normal BS and listen. You are asking for advice/suggestion, either because it’s not your specialization or may be the other person is better than you.
“People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left” ~ Simon Sinek
- If you don’t know how their career will shape up, ask them on what they want to achieve, take help from other folks in the company who can help in defining their career roadmap. This is a very important step as most of the 15+ years guys would have hit the glass-ceiling at this point. Helping them with defining the career roadmap, you will earn their trust and respect .
“The problem when someone feels burned out, bored, unchallenged, or stifled by their work is not the job itself but rather the environment and playground rules given to them to do the job at hand” ~ Tony Hsieh
- When you want someone to work on something, don’t just forward emails with FYI. Call your team members and give them the context. Explain them why you are expecting them to work on it. Emails may not communicate everything. At the end you don’t want your team members to call you as “Post Master“.
- Show your confidence. When you see email exchanges, don’t keep silence. There are times where you need be assertive, authoritative etc. You might think you are helping your team by being silent, wherein they might think differently.
- Lead from the front. If only your team members are expected to work and if you work only on managing your manger’s perception, I don’t think you will be successful.
- Show that you really care. If you say to your team members that they are really very important, then they should also feel it that way. Stop providing only Lip service.
I am sure if you show people that you really care , people will listen and work for you.
At an Organization Level
Whenever there is a change at the leadership level, please handhold your leaders/managers. There are certain cultural aspects and reasons why certain things happen in a certain way. Understand how the new person is managing their team members. Some people are very good in managing perception. You don’t want your team to vanish in a flash.
Software development is based on People and if your best guys don’t perform, there is something more than what you see. Maybe, it is time for the senior guys to speak to your best people and understand. Ultimately, if people don’t perform, company will not be performing either.