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Welcome to Management

Personal growth
Productivity
Career Path

12 December, 2018

Michael Galloway identifies ways in which to grow as a manager, especially after transitioning from IC to management.

Problem

When you move from being an IC to a manager, there are new rules and habits that you have to learn. For example, as a manager you, of course, want to contribute but if you're sitting and working on individual tactical issues all day then you're not focused on your work. Those things are no longer your responsibility and you're actually robbing your team from doing things that need to be done. Instead, management is essentially about leverage and your team is expecting you to solve broader problems. Here are a few more rules, habits, and resources to help you successfully become a productive manager.

Actions taken

Personal Time Management

  • Group common activities together.
  • Create empty space in your schedule. Book this ahead of time and don't violate it. I recommend the first and last hour of your day. The first hour can be used as prep. You will have a better day and feel more prepared for meetings and other crucial events. Use the last hour to review your notes, conversations that you had, or plan for the next several days.
  • Reading: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This is an old but classic book that has a lot of foundational knowledge including a time management matrix. The quadrants in the matrix are divided into what is urgent- tasks that need immediate attention, and not urgent; and what is important- tasks that contribute to the long-term goals, values, and mission, and not important. The idea is that you recognize that urgent and important are prioritized differently, then take the concept and convey it to the rest of your team.
  • Make space for downtime. Your downtime is sacred so treat it so. Tell everybody and then turn off. It could be for 3 hours every evening, or on the weekends, but set the expectation to your team that you're going to have your 'Do Not Disturb' turned on during those times. It is not down time in terms of unproductive time, but quality disconnection time. Set these expectations and encourage your team to do the same. Be the model for your team.
  • Be aggressive about the ROI (return on investment) on your time. This is especially true with meetings. Be sure the meeting has a clear agenda and set of outcomes or action items. Do not participate nor involve your team in meetings that you are not sure will provide value to you/them or that you/they can provide value for. Set a standard for you and your team so that time is well spent.
  • Learn to say no. The reason we usually say yes is because we feel like we should be involved somehow. We want to show our support and interest, but saying no is not a personal thing. In general, if your calendar is packed full than it's because you're not saying no enough.

Strategic Thinking

  • Understand the difference between top-down and bottom-up thinking. Engineers are usually bottom-up thinkers, starting with the landscape and driven forward by what could be. Conversely, strategic thinkers start with a high level problem that they would like to solve as it relates to business value and work their way down. They begin with a bold solution, as if it has already been accomplished, and then toil with tactics beneath it. It is a mindset that is difficult to adopt but you will hit barriers whenever you try to communicate up if you don't understand the difference between the two.

Resources

  • The Advantage, author Patrick Lencioni
  • Great by Choice, authors James C. Collins and Morten T. Hansen
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't, author James C. Collins
  • What Got You Here Won't Get You There, author Marshall Goldsmith
  • Simon Wardley Maps
  • CALM.COM

Lessons learned

  • The difference between being a tactical engineer and a strategic manager is the investment in managerial and leadership skills. To grow as a manager you need to nurture the student within you by buying books, cultivating a space where you can read, and spending the time reading them.
  • Steven Convey's Time Management Matrix is not something that most people intuitively know, so it is best to rely on people who have been using this method for a while until you get an internal sense of this notion.
  • You will not have quality work if you don't have time to turn your brain off and do something else. It may look like inefficient time but turning off is critical for clarity, focus, and being aware of yourself. Find a mechanism that works for you so that you can think clearer and make better decisions.

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