Managing and leading a group of people are two very different and yet very daring tasks as you are constantly tip-toeing between satisfaction, high employee engagement and increased morale, and discontent, arguments, and increased employee absenteeism. The need for managers to consistently balance between satisfying internal and external stakeholders is especially substantial in this day and age, as organizations are pushed to innovate constantly, in order to survive the competition, and being Agile, lean and mean is deemed so paramount to their success that many rush to adopt such processes without preparing themselves beforehand causing failure or bad reputation for their brand.
It seems evident that being a manager can be a tough and nerve-racking position as it is vital to business success, however, most engineers and developers do not think the same. A bulk of IT teams view their managers as a bureaucratic, nit-picking entity that exists to make their working lives harder and this belief has grown so popular that Google had to experiment with having no managers on their teams for a while, only to report disastrous results in the end.
There is some merit to this notion however, as many managers are simply not up to the task and fail to do their jobs successfully, acting as a brake to their company’s success. In the paragraphs below, we will attempt to categorize these managers and discuss how such management styles can lead to an ever-increasing gap between management and engineering (and yes we will be using pop-culture references from one of our favorite shows; The Office).
#The Michael Scott
Those of you who are familiar with the show, I know what you are probably thinking;
“I would love to have someone like Michael Scott as my manager”.
Well yes, who wouldn’t? Michael has been the cornerstone of the Dunder Mifflin company for almost 20 years. A loyal manager who treats his employees as his family and remains with them through thick and thin, constantly by their side, protecting their interests from corporate greed and recklessness.
However, his polarizing personality and fun-first attitude would get tiring pretty quickly. For starters, his emotional intelligence and sense of humor heavily outweigh his cognitive skills and business & market knowledge which leads to him making decisions based only on intuition rather than facts and data; a Michael Scott manager makes so many mistakes.
Moreover, prioritizing is not his best attribute so your sprints are probably looking more like marathons and your customers rarely see the product they are paying for. Last but not least, he is not the epitome of work ethic as he never works and constantly disrupts the development team with jokes, brainstorming sessions and meetings and there are so many meaningless meetings one can attend to before they have an effect on their productivity.
That said, he is likely the best one on this list.
#The Dwight Shrute
Possibly the polar opposite of The Michael Scott manager; works very hard and makes no mistakes. His competitive nature pushes him to be one of the best managers, in terms of business knowledge and decision making, you’ve ever had. He is very likely to have invested time into coding and he is the best there as well; he knows your job better than you do.
“A manager who is a role model on work ethic and has the technical knowledge to understand the ups and downs of my job? Sign me up!”
you may think to yourself, however, “all work and no fun makes Jack a dull boy”. With someone like Dwight as your manager, the concept of fun does not exist (only Perfectenschlag). Such a manager constantly yells and belittles you, has little understanding of emotions or human needs and only pays attention to efficiency and documentation. He is likely to overwork you and to install strict countermeasures and punishments against mistakes. There’s no leniency, only hard work, and perfection.
Oh, did I mention how he does not trust you at all and therefore has a constant need to micro-manage you every day?
#The Robert California
A business expert, a stoic philosopher, an eloquent public speaker. Most, if not all of your scrum meetings are going to leave you inspired and ready to tackle every challenge.
Hope is going to fill your heart and you will feel blessed to be around the presence of such a phlegmatic figure. For a moment, his stone-cold expression almost appeared humane and touched you. Right after the meeting, however, you will come to realize that his speech was so perplexing and enigmatic that neither did it add any actual value to the meeting nor did it help you with the practicalities of your blockers.
If you ask him again, you are likely facing termination as you’d appear of little importance to his eyes. Who are you to waste his time, twice? He will only push you towards goals that are impossible to achieve and won’t take no for an answer and if you do not meet them, well, no one is irreplaceable.
No one but him.
#The Andrew Bernard
Think of The Michael Scott manager but worse, way worse. He cares about his employees too much (unless he is to embark on a 3-month-cruise at the worst time of the year), but he is not very bright, to the point of making mistakes that can terminate your organization altogether. He cannot inspire, he knows too little about management, he is not very good with people and at some point, you are likely to wonder how can he even be a manager. Honestly, he does not have that much to offer aside from making decisions.
If only he was not that indecisive.
#The Ryan Howard
The poor man’s Steve Jobs, without the knowledge, the determination and the commitment the former CEO of Apple had shown throughout his life.
He is somewhat capable of leading you and your co-workers to success if he doesn’t quit before your project is finished. Constantly tries to innovate and has his fair share of ideas however, they are not that useful to anyone and are actually impractical.
Thinks too highly of himself and will try to meddle in your way of doing your job without having the technical knowledge to back him up. Also, he appears to be missing when your team needs him the most but he will be right there to give you tasks and hold you accountable to them. Clearly, he is too busy with himself to pay attention to any of your queries or needs and your teams’ standups are plagued by his constant need for approval, lack of respect and “smart”, “sophisticated” quotes that he fails to uphold.
Although he is all talk and no meat, there is a slim chance one of his ideas will stick and provide something of value.