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Ask HN: How to become a better manager?
12 points by bndr on Nov 7, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments
Hello everyone, So I recently got my own team to manage and it seems to me that I'm doing a bad job at it.

So I would like to ask you: are there any books/articles you can recommend for me to read? So I could better manage the team? Any advice?

A very quick one sentence hint: be the person that you would like to work for. And ask your team what you could do to improve.

I've worked for a variety of managers over the years and the styles varied from 'management by fear' to 'no management that I could detect' and everything in between. What helped me most to grow when managing others was to observe what did not work elsewhere and which traits I appreciated in the people that managed me (in so far as I'm 'manageable' :) ).

It's not something that I ever managed to get out of a book though I'm sure there may be such books. This is a thing that you'll probably only really grow into over time.

The biggest change for me was when I finally learned to really listen to what people say, both in plaintext and 'between the lines'.

One question you can ask yourself since you are saying that you are doing a bad job at it is why you think that and then to use that as a starting point for a list of points on which you can improve.

Best of luck!

This is the most important advice.

Some tips that can help towards this:

Don't micromanage your employees. Nobody likes being micromanaged, and if you have to micromanage, something is broken. It indicates a lack of trust, and people are inherently resistant towards micromanagement.

Look out for your employees. Praise your employees first before yourself, and praise the team for its successes. Keep an eye out for the morale of the team, and talk honestly to the team as much as you can - this doesn't mean tell all bad news immediately, but at the appropriate time. You're in charge of everyone's productivity, so you must act in an optimal fashion.

Also look to develop your employees. People want to keep progressing in their careers, so help with that end.

Set the example - you should be working the longest hours for the most part. This is not a hard and fast rule, but nobody respects someone who is not at least willing to do what they say.

Thanks for advice!

I 100% agree with this. Most of my management style comes from managers I have worked for in the past and what was good/bad about them. You will always have bosses and now you are probably reporting to Sr. Manager or Director. Start observing your new management and pick some new role models.

The management traits I try to embody are empowering of my team and almost inverting myself. I am there to enable my team to succeed. It's my job to ensure they can be at their best. That means taking care of anything that may distract, block or otherwise hinder their progress.

The best managers I ever had put a great importance on my growth and that I got to work on things interesting to me and in line with my career goals. They would make sure I got into working groups I wanted or the projects I was interested in.

Thanks for the advice!

Establish regular 1:1 with your directs.

- These are not project status updates! talk about career / growth / skills

- Listen, Take notes, Send out Action Items

- At the end, ask if there is any thing you could do to improve. Ask for feedback.

The benefit to having incremental documentation with your directs makes end of year reviews much easier, as you have a bunch of documentation at the ready. Makes promotions easier (and terminations as well -- welcome to management!)

I would recommend Leading Snowflakes as a great read for first time engineering managers: http://leadingsnowflakes.com/

And subscribe to the author's weekly email list. Great set of reads and links here: http://softwareleadweekly.com/

Thanks! I will definitely take a look at those.

The biggest reason many managers are bad managers is because they haven't defined measurable goals and outcomes for the individuals on the team and for the team as a whole.

This leads them to micromanage, be stressed and every other characteristic associated with the stereotype.

If you are able to define measurable outcomes/goals - then how those are achieved really should be left in the hands of the individuals/team.

This is what makes you (imo) a capable manager.

If you want to take it up a notch, learn how to motivate them.

I highly suggest watching

a) Dan Pink's talk on Motivation for this (and perhaps also picking up his book "Drive"): http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation and

b) Simon Sinek's talk on leadership (and also picking up his book) on starting with why: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspi....

I think this will give you a strong foundation to build off of.

Here's a solid book with 5,000+ management tips, that will lead to even more reading and professional development. This is a Must Have if you're serious about becoming a good manager > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/847538.FYI

How to win friends and influence people - Dale Carnegie

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