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I was speaking with my manager recently and the conversation derailed a bit. Somehow we ended up discussing what I consider a good manager. In the past five years, I’ve reported to seven different people, each possessing their own unique traits that I respect. There are articles all over the web that lists the ideal traits of a manager. Just to list a few:

  • Empower your team and don’t micromanage.
  • Communicate well and listen to your team.
  • Encourage professional development.
  • etc…

However, I consider two things of utmost importance above all else:

If a manager promises my team something, then backtracks without discussing it with us, I will forever look at that manager differently. There is nothing that will demotivate me faster than working for someone I can’t trust.

To quote the fair process page:

  • Engagement. Involve individuals in the decisions that involve them. Get their input, allow them to actively PeerReview the ideas on the table. Respect individuals for their ideas.
  • Explanation. Everyone involved and affected must understand the reason why the decisions were made. Demonstrating the rationale behind decisions shows people that you have considered their opinions thoughtfully and impartially. Not only will this make people trust the decision maker but it will help them learn.
  • Expectation clarity. Once a decision is made, clearly specify the expectations for the people involved, what responsibilities they have. Even if the expectations are demanding, people want to know by what standards they will be judged and what penalties there will be for failure. Understanding what to do reduces useless political maneuvering and it allows people to focus on the task at hand.

Fair process goes hand in hand with trust. If decisions are being made without input from my team, I feel completely disengaged with the task in hand. If my manager cannot trust me enough to value my input, why should I go above and beyond for them?

For the managers I’ve worked with that employed fair process, it was an absolute pleasure working with them. I was committed and motivated to get the task done because I felt like I had a stake in the result.

A lot of the traits that I value can be found in the book Peopleware. Just like how the agile manifesto states, software development is more than just processes. If you value processes over people, you’re probably a bad manager.

  1. Gene
    February 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Being one of the seven I hope I did okay… 🙂

    I do agree, though for me trust is always at the top. Trust is a two way street, trusting your boss is one, and feeling that they trust you is the other. The trust is about having the other’s back when the s*&^ hits the fan, and not just when things are rosy.

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