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Having spent the last 3 decades in the world of Information Technology I have often heard the expression "managing geeks is like herding cats", but I feel that is just wrong. The main reason IT workers are unhappy at work does tend to be bad relations with management, often because 'geeks' and managers have fundamentally different personalities, professional backgrounds and ambitions. The fact is that IT people hate bad management and have less tolerance for it than most other kids of employees.
I have tried to learn from everyone I meet, and continue to try to develop a style which is effective with the highly intelligent and creative minds which make up most IT teams. This means emphasizing things which many managers either downplay as trivial or too expensive, or just do not understand have value.
I focus on developing my employees, which means training. Different people learn in different ways, which means tailoring training opportunities to the employee - but they must have those opportunities.
I try to be consistent and fair, setting policies, standards and procedures which apply to all equally, and are communicated to all before they are applied.
I try to communicate in a clear manner and avoid management-speak. I am always willing to listen to the experts, but reserving the final decision to me - I am the leader, after all.
I provide my employees with the tools they need to succeed, not just what I feel is appropriate. What may look like a high-priced toy to some, may be the difference between a productive IT worker and a failed or delayed project - or worse, the loss of a valuable employee.
I also recognize that IT workers constantly are tasked with coming up with solutions to new problems and rarely ever solve the same problem twice. Therefore they need a bit of leeway and flexibility. This doesn't mean I allow them to just run free, but it does mean that certain policies which may appear as red tape are developed to inspire creativity and avoid "death by cubicle".
A happy geek is an productive geek. And also one who tends to be highly motivated and highly loyal.
Management style is difficult to define, but in general, I feel a good manager gives clear directions and actually stays pretty "hands off", but is ready and available to jump in and offer guidance, expertise and help when needed.
A good manager seeks to provide their employees with long-term professional development. They help encourage employees to develop their strengths and improve their performance. They motivate employees by providing opportunities for professional development.
I believe my personal style is a Pace-Setting Coach. I try to make work exciting and fulfilling.
I like to define the big picture, always looking for new opportunities to grow the company and my employees. I might be in front of a whiteboard or computer display, listing company and/or team objectives for the year and then defining goals for individuals. I set high standards of performance and excellence, to which I hold myself first.
I like 1-2-1 time with my team. I feel the best way to develop a company’s culture is by taking time to sit down with each employee and find out their hopes and dreams. I like to write out a short, but achievable plan with my employees and help them get where they want to be. I get a kick out of seeing people grow into their roles. I feel engaged employees are generally more likely to perform better.