Success in today’s constantly evolving business world
In the competitive world we live in right now, the employee has become a key element to organizational success—which at Pythian means delivering the best technical and transformational services to our clients. Organizations today are increasingly working in a “team” configuration in order to reach the same goal. But even though top-down bureaucracy is tending to disappear, people often still pay more attention on developing processes and strategies that will help achieve the organization’s goals, and putting less emphasis on what the team and team member goals are. At the end of the day, the ones that make a project or a task successful are the people doing the work.
Simply put, you can have all the tools, strategies and procedures in place in order to be successful but if there is one person in the team who is disengaged, achieving success will become more difficult. In order to reach organizational success, businesses and their managers need to balance and align three areas: organizational, team and personal (the employee’s self-space.)
Getting to know your team
In 9 years as a Team Manager at Pythian, I’ve been focusing on developing an environment where my team’s goals and the personal goals of each of my team members support our overall goal of excelling on every single task we have with our clients.
Being a manager in the IT sector doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the most technically savvy person on the team. We work in a team configuration where diversity is our biggest strength, so I surround myself with team members who are the technical experts. As a team manager I see my role as being the person that glues everything and everyone together, which is what makes this role so important. So how do I do it?
By listening to my team members, collaborating with them, coaching them, guiding them and understanding what their professional goals are. By knowing that, I can align them to the goals we have as a team and as a company.
Everything starts with the employee
A mistake that many companies do is to try to force-fit people into processes, ignoring the fact that the employee is an individual with professional goals and aspirations. When a company decides to open up a position, the candidate is the first to choose the company (among many others), well before the hiring manager makes any decisions.
As a manager, one of the first things I work on is to get to know each employee. I try understand their motivations, aspirations, and professional goals so that I can guide them and coach them along the way. By understanding their goals, I can quickly align them to our team goals.Then, by helping them meet their now-aligned personal goals and team goals, at the end everything will translate into achieving the goals for our clients.
One example I have is with a database administrator on my team who needed help with communication skills. He told me he needed help in this area, and he was hesitant about getting in front of our clients and speaking with them. Since it’s our job to provide expert recommendations to our clients, we need to show that we believe in our solutions with confidence and no doubt in our abilities. I coached and guided his personal goal of becoming a stronger communicator, and I also assigned a technical lead role with that client. I knew that this client would be accommodating, and over time as my team member became more confident, he became so critical to the account that the clients couldn’t live without him. Now this DBA no longer feels intimidated to speak with clients, and our clients also love working with him. All of our goals have been aligned, and everyone wins.
To all managers out there, especially in the IT sector, to be truly successful you don’t need to be the most technical savvy person on your team. Going back to diversity, you’re there to help technical experts with the non-technical things they might need help with. You’re the glue that holds all the pieces together, and in order to achieve that, you can’t just focus on processes, which converts the team into a bureaucratic structure. That is definitely not where the management world is shifting.
Being a non-technical manager on a technical team is your greatest strength, and you should be striving to make your team as diverse as possible. Creating a technically strong team means you need to remove yourself from being the “know it all” manager, and instead focus on helping your team members achieve their personal goals so they can successfully contribute to your organizational goals.
Interested in working for Pythian? Check out our open positions.
Well said, Isabel. You have nailed what it takes for a good manager to build effective, high-performance teams. By being non-technical (although I would say that it helps to have a technical background in our industry, even if dated) forces a manager to empower their technical employees and focus on the management of the team.
Excellent post ! I was in the middle of reading this, and I already had a gut feeling that the author must be Isabel. I got an opportunity to talk to her a few weeks back. She is very inspiring and motivating manager.