Manage Your Team

Many project managers—especially those who have been promoted from technical positions—feel like their primary job function is to understand the job each team member is doing. Often the best programmer, designer, or tester will be promoted into a management position. And in many cases, this is a very good choice, because it's important for a manager to understand the work being done by the team. Sometimes the project manager is also the direct manager of each team member, and in this case, he is especially vulnerable to certain management pitfalls.

Understanding the work that the team is doing is very important; however, the primary task of a manager is to have the right people do the correct work and, ultimately, to get the tasks done in the most efficient and least problematic way. The first instinct of a manager who got to where he is by being a good programmer will be to be the best programmer on the team. That's not what the team needs—they need someone to make decisions, provide guidance, and prioritize their tasks. If all he does is "get his hands dirty" by solving programming problems for his team, they will not only sense a lack of direction from their manager, but may also feel demotivated because their work is not valued.

In contrast, some managers understand that their job is to delegate. But while delegation is an important part of management, it must be done with a good understanding of the work being delegated. The manager may not be the best engineer ...

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