Having worked in more than 10 IT projects under as many managers, I have come to realize that a manager has first to be a good leader. Someone whom we can look up to, whom we can respect for their knowledge, support, guidance and assistance when required. Only when we can respect an individual for who he is, we will be able to understand their vision and work together as a team for a common goal.
Based on above, here are 5 qualities that every manager should possess to be effective and get the best out of the resources:
i) Functional Knowledge : I was once working under a manager who had a MBA in marketting, but no knowledge of the automobile domain. All he could do was allocate tasks, but he neither understood the requirements nor the hindrances that we could face while developing the software. Hence, its very important for a manager to have functional knowledge, also called ‘domain knowledge’. Unless he doesn’t understand how a system works/functions, he would not be able to estimate the man-hours required to build the tool. Not just estimation, his knowledge can be of use in developing use-cases & flow diagrams.
ii) Good Communication : Several times we come across people who aren’t able to convey the message clearly. They are unable to deal with the client [just can’t say NO] and they are unable to deal with the subordinates because of messages that are lost in translation. A good verbal and written skill is very important for a manager to succeed. Unless he brings clarity in his communication, no work can be done efficiently.
iii) Motivate & Inspire : When things are going fine, even an average manager is made to look good. But the true test comes when things go wrong or haywire, that’s when you need a motivator. Someone who sits by you, talks to you about difficulties faced and inspire you. He may not be able to solve the problem, but at least if he listens to to you and tries to breakdown the problem into smaller workable pieces then half the problem is solved. That in itself becomes an inspiration to do well and complete the task. He must be able to motivate you to give your 100%. We once had a manager who would stay back late hours along with us, only to show that he is there. That really motivated us to perform to our potential.
iv) Create A Congenial Environment : Not all work places have a work culture. Some places still work in the old fashioned way where a senior indispensable resource thinks he is boos and throws attitude. Or in some places. no one is ready to take responsibility thinking that the other person would. That’s where you need someone to create an environment which is congenial for work and productive too. We need to have a work culture and define certain roles and responsibilities. If one can do this, then evereything else takes care of itself.
v) Rewards & Recognition : Most important aspect of work is the recognition for it, the right people getting credit. A manager has a key role to play in this. Its his duty to be fair and impartial, at the same time to reward the worthy and to reprimand [in private] the ones causing problem. Reward need not always be monetary, it can be in terms of benefit like compensatory leave or vacation time. Only when a resource feels recognized in the firm, will he give his best. Else, what’s the point of working hard without being appreciated!
These were the 5 broad qualities that I have identified. There are a few more other qualities like being able to delegate task, have good networking capabilities, valuing people, competency, being calm and composed under pressure, people management skills etc; but they can be covered in one of the above 5 qualities.