Common Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them
16 March, 2022
The Struggle to Align Manager of Managers
As a senior director, I have directors reporting to me and senior engineering managers reporting to those managers, making me a manager of managers. This is a dreadfully exciting experience because senior engineering managers are like a needle in a haystack. The most challenging part of all is helping managers to delegate. Usually, strategic managers in the director levels do not dive into day-to-day operations but make sure that the team is aligned in the right direction. Managers growing in those roles usually either struggle with alignment or control. Management is about a balance between control and leadership while ensuring that the team does not make irreversible mistakes.
Recognize These Challenges and Address Them to Increase a Manager’s Confidence
It all begins with balancing letting people make mistakes, learning from them, and teaching them to navigate the political nature of an organization. In the end, being in a director role is all about improving strategies to achieve outcomes rather than a tactical hands-on role.
As much as the role heavily depends on the experiences and one’s skills of tackling situations, it also depends on how fast they can learn, being in the strategic seat everyone looks onto you to remove ambiguity and provide guidance, and more often, that ambiguity is probably not something you have experience dealing with before, especially that not all organizations are the same and each exhibit a different unknown unknowns.
Lastly, it all boils down to the delegation of responsibilities to your managers and trusting them. All I had to do was set guardrails around possible damage that could have happened, but I soon came to realize that one of the biggest challenges for me would be effectively passing on my learnings, experience, and knowledge to my managers. What I found very useful in tackling this challenge was having frequent 1:1s with my team, and I also learned that it's not enough to just lay out the direction but it's important to also give somebody to that strategy to help the team get started.
The higher level of all of that was trusting them and building trust as a manager through the process.
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