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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How Do I Convince My Boss I'm Ready To Manage Others?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I am a computer programmer by trade, but I could be best considered a problem solver. For my day to day activities, I consistently get excellent reviews. People actively seek me out for projects (as opposed to other developers) because I get them done, and do it well.

However, what I see as my best ability is the hardest to quantify - I make everyone around me better. I'm not the best programmer, I'm not the best business analyst, I am not the best at writing, and definitely not the best speaker, yet they all come to me when they have problems or need to flesh out ideas. I make projects go smoother because I help everyone on the project. Similar projects have taken as much as ten times longer, but if you put them side by side, the only obvious difference would be that I am on one. Otherwise, it just seems that everyone performed much better on that project for no apparent reason. I have no magic wand, I just help people out in a hundred little ways to keep things moving. It might be something as small as meeting with that difficult executive or tuning a slow query.

I think these skills would make me an excellent manager, but I have no idea how to highlight them. I'm not very good at shameless self-promotion and any efforts to that end have been quite ham-fisted. Less obvious ways have not worked either. How can I get an opportunity to demonstrate what I can do when I am actually in charge?

How Do I Convince My Boss I'm Ready To Manage Others?


Sergey Gorbatov said...


I would sit myself in front of the mirror and ask the following questions:

- what am I really good at? If it is making everyone around me feel better, what does it do to me? What does it do to the organization?
- Who appreciates my skills?
- What sort of feedback do I get? How often do I seek feedback? From who?
- Where do I want to get in the end? Who is going to monitor my progress?
- How do I develop myself?
- What are the measure of success?

If you can start with these questions, your job is nearly done. Look inside yourself and you will find the power within.

Good luck.

Harris Silverman said...

While all the skills that the writer mentions here are significant, I think it's important to remember that management is itself a skill (or rather a set of skills) that is separate from the directly work-related skills involved in getting the work done. Or to put it differently, being the best programmer doesn't necessarily mean that one should be the programmers' manager, because programming and management are completely separate skill sets. The manager should be the one with the best management skills.

George said...

Skillfulness is very important for anyone to perform their task done with minimum effort. It is easy to get selected in an interview if the people skills are practiced. Effective human resource workshop could implement these skills in an individual.

evilcatbert said...

One question I'd like to add to the first well thought out list in Sergey's comment is this: How comfortable are you in getting people to go in a direction they might not want to go? A manager has to be able to tell employees things they might not want to hear and to ensure they do what is necessary for the department or company to succeed. If you are at all unhappy in addressing ineffective performance (but instead step in to do the work for someone rather than getting them to do the work themselves) you will make yourself miserable assuming a managerial role. Sometimes a good team leader can't transition to become a good manager because they find they are unable or unwilling to take on the challenge listed above. The main obstacle to success for a lot of new managers is that they find their need to be well liked by their employees is more important to them than requiring their staff to do the work way the company needs it done.