If you have read some of my previous articles, you already got used to the fact that I'm usually writing a blog post based on a discussion had with someone, an idea that came into my mind or an event that happened to me.
So, one day, I was talking to a neighbour about our professional lives, our jobs, the companies we are working at and I asked him what role does he have in the company.
"I was a developer, but now I am on the dark side. I'm working in management."
Dark side. Why is it dark? Being a boss is awesome.
But why being in the management is seen as being on the "dark side" though? Many would consider (and I was considering that as well a while ago) that being a manager comes with a lot of benefits - higher position, higher salary, access to precious information and power. The role itself is often seen as "less work, more meetings". When you want to make a step forward on your career ladder, you would plan to land in a management position.
However, being a manager is not always as easy and fun as it may look. Thinking to my experience in the past year as a member of the management team, I came across some situations which led me to the conclusion that management can be hard, stressful and there are indeed some dark sides of it.
Don't get me wrong, I love working with people and I find them as being the most powerful chain in the working ecosystem. The dark side of the manager's role comes when you have to deal with unpleasant situations, when you have to give bad news to your employees or when you have to deal with their problems, frustrations or conflicts. I think that as a manager you have to be a good psychologist to be able to give proper support to your employees. Sometimes you have to give your people hard feedback, finance freezes on raises and reasons for not promoting them when they expect.
As a manager, would be desirable to be able to know a few aspects of your employees' personalities to know what jokes or comments you can make.
When dealing with people you have to be impartial and empathetic. And sometimes that's pretty hard.
Another dark side of a manager's role is to hire people. Hiring and interviewing is something almost everyone wants to be involved in as it looks to be quite thrilling. But also hiring (in the tech world at least) can be very expensive, consuming a lot of time and money, that's why as a manager you have to be sure you're picking the right people (is it possible to know that though?) to do the job. But when you end up having dozens of applicants none or very few having the skills you have required, you have to compromise. And even when you're sure you picked the right candidate, it might end up as not being a perfect fit for the job, or for the project or for the team itself. And as you have probably guessed, it is your fault. And is hard to repair it.
As I've seen during my time, many employees hate the moment when we have to talk about evaluations, feedback, goals. Some are very proactive, but with some, you have to work as a continuous reminder. And that might become quite annoying for you and for the employee too.
Also, you have to work closely with the HR and IT department too for being sure that your employees have all the logistics (desks, laptops, environments, access, you name it) they need to do their job.
Did we talk about hiring? We did. Well, as a manager you have to have an on-boarding plan for newly hired people and someone to help them whenever they need during their first month of employment at least.
Also, as a manager, you have to work with your employees in planning their time off, the vacations and also prepare the backup plan when someone gets sick or suddenly decides to resign.
As a manager you end up having tones of meetings every week. You have to schedule 1:1's with every employee at least one per month if not more often. You also have a lot of discussions with your peer managers ensuring that all of you and the processes too are on the same page.
Also, you have to regularly discuss with the persons who have an impact on your employees activities (such as Project Managers), to ensure that the latter are able to do their jobs and the best decisions are taken for them and for the project too.
In many cases, a manager is a decision-maker, giving the sign off on different things. And as you might imagine, the manager takes full responsibility for all the decisions taken, even for the good ones and the bad ones. As a manager, you decide who to promote and who you don't, the salary increases based on objective feedback of employees' performances, you set the priorities for your employees.
You decide where to put your best employees and where to put the not so productive or well-prepared ones. And you have to do it in such a way to please the project's needs and the employee's needs.
You need to decide when to hire a new person based on the company's needs and to be able to argue your decisions to your boss. Because, hey, you also have a boss.
As you see, a manager's role is not always bells and whistles and comes with some challenges that you have to consider.