From Tech to Manager
Here are 5 skills that today’s tech managers need to learn about managing people as they move into managerial roles in future:
■ Leadership: Moving from a ‘technical’ role to a ‘managerial’ role, the first skill managers need to learn is leadership. Many people assume that leadership is a quality that is acquired naturally but it is not. You need to learn how to lead and inspire people to perform tasks efficiently. When you have a diverse multi-generational workforce, the task keeps getting complex as people differ in their motivation and career orientation. You require the same finesse to handle your team as you need to deal with your customers. People have to be segmented and different strokes have to be applied for different folks. Leadership has to be mass-customized.
■ Handling the dynamics of the ‘digital’ team: Understand what inspires the team, how people relate to each other in a diverse team and in turn, how do teams relate to each other in an organization, are a few complex skills that new managers need to learn. Majority of the teams today, working with each other, operate virtually. They are not physically co-located and may indeed have multiple reporting relationships. For example, an employee may report to different managers based on his function, geography and product group. Managers must learn to accommodate multiple responsibilities assigned to employees. Moreover, in future, work teams will not only consist of people but also robots. Leading a team of humans and machines together is a unique challenge of the future managers, for which they need to up their skills.
■ Real-time performance feedback: The ability to give effective feedback. The problem with managers is that they construe corridor conversations and ongoing chats with their team members as feedback. But, feedback is a deliberate and premeditated managerial action. World over, people are revisiting how performance is managed and feedback is given. Feedback is no more an annual, staggered or periodic exercise. Progressive organizations have moved into the ‘check- in’ system, where managers are obliged to give feedback more frequently, much more diligently and clearly.
■ Holding people accountable: This is an extremely important skill, especially in growth markets where due to shortage of talent managers often are held at ransom under the threat of employee resignations. Afraid of losing good employees, managers in growth markets often follow an appeasement strategy which in turn, fosters an ‘entitlement mindset’ among some employees (not all). In this context, holding employees clearly accountable for performance deliverables with courage and conviction is a relevant managerial skill.
■ Empathy, mindfulness and emotional intelligence: Managers are realizing the importance of empathy, emotionally intelligence and mindfulness, at workplace. This is an evolving skill set. Whereas, traditionally managers were good at giving instructions, providing a vision, reviewing performance, etc. Now they need to listen, involve, engage and co-create the future with people. For all this, you need to be present in the moment, suspend judgment and stay poised under stress. Understanding why people do what they do with an open mind. Secondly, humility is a new skill that managers must acquire.