Only Rumors - Business & Politics
Stupid Tech Boss vs Smart Tech Boss
WARNING: This page contains unsubstantiated rumors provided by a dangerous person (me), with few or no credentials, who thinks she's an expert at MANY things.
Stupid Tech Boss vs Smart Tech Boss
Being a good boss in tech is hard. It is far easier to criticize mistakes that have been made in the past than to always make the right choices in the present. Tech workers want their bosses and leads to be very technically savvy as well as good leaders, and it is a difficult combination because each of those skills is better assigned to a different personality type. A non-technical lead may make bad technical decisions. A technical lead may find the interpersonal processes that are necessary for being a good leader exhausting.
Sadly, all the "Stupid Tech Boss" humor in this document is based on real occurrences.
Situation: A new tech boss has been selected and feels the need to assert himself with the team.
Stupid Tech Boss: "Here are the rules about what I expect from you - what you must do and what you must not do. (Elaborates)."
Stupid Tech Boss: (Breaks each of the rules to prove to the team that he has dominance over them and that it is acceptable behavior for him to do what is unacceptable behavior from everyone else).
Smart Tech Boss: (after a team meeting with brief introductions) "I would like each of you to write up a document and email it to me and the team. That document should state what your title is, what your roles and responsibilites are, and what you do in a typical day. Also, if there is any existing role or responsibility confusion, I'd like to know about that, too. Seeing what the state of the team is now will help me make choices about how to make things easier for all of us in the future."
Situation: The new team member has a stronger skillset than several current team members.
Stupid Tech Boss: (To New Hire) "I see in your resume that you have had extensive experience with BlueGlobe, and you've described to me what you did with BlueGlobe in the past. But we have a rule here that no one touches our installation of BlueGlobe until they have worked with us for at least a year and then taken a generic externally taught course on BlueGlobe. If I changed those rules for you, the others would rightly complain that I had treated them unfairly and that my rules mean nothing whenever they aren't convenient. Therefore, you will wait a year and take a class before you can do work on our installation of BlueGlobe."
Consequence: BlueGlobe breaks down or needs maintenance when all the other teammates are unavailable. New hire wants to help but cannot because the details of the in-house installation are unknown. New hire feels especially frustrated for not having been informed of stupid rule before accepting the position and starts a new job search.
Smart Tech Boss: (To Entire Team) "Team I need to break the rule that I created a year ago about the prerequisites for working on BlueGlobe. I am embarrassed at having been so short sighted that I never anticipated that we would hire someone who already has much prior experience with BlueGlobe. Our new hire should be trained on our installation of BlueGlobe right away. Those of you who waited until you worked on BlueGlobe because of my the rule we used to have, please make appointments with me individually if there is any further discussion on this matter. Also, in the future, if any of you think I am again being shortsighted, I hope you will bring it to my attention. I am hereby acknowledging my fallibility."
Situation: The current team lacks diversity and we are bringing in our first member who is different from the others in some way.
Stupid Tech Boss: "Listen up team, we are going to bring in our first female team member. I want you guys to watch your language and the way you behave. I want you to clean up your act. We all know that women may be more sensitive to foul language. Also, you might want to tone down that bragging about last night's conquest, or complaining too much about your wive's female needs. I'm going to sit her at some distance from you so you won't offend her. And I've also made some special accommodations for her work, and it will be different from yours. Don't teach her what you are doing without clearing it with me first. Any questions?"
Consequence: The employees all go to lunch together and exclude her so they can bitch about the special accommodations they have to make for the new member and so they can use their normal foul language and talk about their normal topics without offending the girl. Other special accommodations that NewHire did not herself request but are being enforced on her behalf lead to further ostracism.
Smart Tech Boss: "Listen up team, we are going to bring in our first female team member. It is my understanding that she wants to do exactly the same kind of work that you are doing unless there are some special tasks that she can't do because of physical limitations, and if that is the case, she'll let us know. I want you to do everything you can to make her feel included as a member of the team, that means introducing her to our methods, procedures, and technologies, giving her feedback about if she is proceeding correctly or not, and answering her questions so that she can refine her techniques. That is, I want you to treat her the same in regard to our work as you would with any new member of our team. She is going to sit right here with the rest of the team so that she can learn from you quickly. Get her up to speed as soon as possible so that she can be a full contributing member of the team. Are there any questions?"
Situation: New or enhanced functionality needs to be added to existing systems.
Stupid Tech Boss: (meeting with only the lead) "This is the outcome I want: XYZ. I sent you an email about this earlier this week, now I'm going into more detail about what we want and why (elaborates). How do you propose we tackle this?"
Stupid Lead: "This is how. (elaborates)"
Smart Lead: "I have some ideas, but I want to meet with the team on this. (meets with whole team & takes role of Smart Boss because when the Boss is shortsighted, the Lead needs to step in)."
Smart Tech Boss: (meeting with entire team) "This is the outcome I want: (XYZ). I sent you an email about this earlier this week, now I'm going into more detail about what we want and why and I want you to ask questions, think about how we can achieve our goals because I'm going to be asking each of you for your input. (Continues presentation)."
Lead: "I propose A."
Teammate2: "I propose B as an alternate to A."
Teammate3: "I propose C in addition to A or B, but especially B."
Teammate4: "I'm still thinking about it."
Smart Tech Boss: "Okay, write up a summary of your proposal and have it ready. I need to make a decision this week about how we are going to proceed and I'll meet with each of you individually to discuss your proposal."
Smart Tech Boss: (to Lead in individual meeting) "Please explain to me how this would work, what hardware and software we need, including cost."
Lead: (Elaborates on Plan).
Smart Tech Boss: (after asking clarifying questions and taking notes) "What advantages does plan A have over plan B? What are your thoughts about plan C?"
Lead: (Compares & contrasts different plans, especially in terms of time, cost, results).
Smart Tech Boss: (meeting individually with each teammember who had a proposal) "Please explain to me how this would work, what hardware and software we need, including cost."
Teammember: (Elaborates on Plan).
Smart Tech Boss: (after asking clarifying questions and taking notes) "What advantages does your plan have over plan A or any of the other proposed plans? What are your thoughts about plan C?"
Teammember: (Compares & contrasts different plans, especially in terms of time, cost, results.)
Smart Tech Boss: (meeting individually with each teammember who did NOT have a proposal) "I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the different plans that were proposed for accomplishing our goals? Do you have any experience with any of those technologies or any additional thoughts about our goals since the meeting?"
SUPER OPEN-PROCESS TECH BOSS: (meeting with whole team) "Each of the teammembers who have a proposal for achieving our goal will give a brief outline of their plan and then answer questions."
Team: (Each plan is highlighted for benefits and weaknesses).
Smart Tech Boss: (meeting with Lead only): "I'm leaning toward option B because of these reasons (reasons). Are you dead-set against it or do you think it is a viable option to try? Can you help me and the teammate who proposed plan B work out the details of the implementation?"
Smart Tech Boss: (meeting with Lead only): "I'm leaning toward option A, but is there any part of option B or C that would enhance or make sense to implement in addition to plan A?"
Smart Tech Boss: (when most details of implementation are known -- meet with whole team): "This is what we are planning to do and I want to keep the dialogue open about improvements to this process. If any of you have skills that can assist with creating this new configuration, or with implementation, please speak up now."
Created: December 1, 2012
Updated: December 5, 2012