Learning to communicate & empathise

» 23 August 2009 » In management, rambles »

This post forms part of my larger blog on starting out as a manager. See here for the full post…

The facts are this. You can no longer sit in a nice, dark corner of the office, hacking away at a bunch of bug fixes and new features, ignoring the Marketing department. You are in charge of a team of people. People who need your guidance – not because they are less intelligent than you but because they are paid to sit in a nice, dark corner of the office, hacking away at a bunch of bug fixes and new features, ignoring the Marketing department – and you are paid to ensure they can stay there, without interruption. To do this somebody must talk to the Marketing department. And Product Dev. And the Senior Management, Account Management & Sales teams. That somebody is you.

You also need to interact with people at higher levels of management. People more busy even than you (as if that could be possible!). People who need accurate, informative and succinct pieces of information to do their jobs properly. Unless you’re very lucky you’re also going to have to get very good at communicating with your team. Changes will take place. A company re-structure, a large new client and you’re the poor thing that has to convince a team of techies that updating the iteration plan every day really is beneficial to them. No, really. It’s not a waste of time. And that workplace assessment is vital too.

To do all this, you need to communicate and to empathise. These are not necessarily skills that the average techie has used recently. Maybe you’re out of practise. Open yourself up to other peoples problems and try and figure out what you can do to make them less painful. Your job now is a facilitator, go facilitate.

Most of all stick with it – it gets easier.

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