Managing strong personalities [was Re: how to manage]

Subject: Managing strong personalities [was Re: how to manage]
From: Kate O'Neill <kate -at- kathleen -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 17:54:51 -0800

"RUBOTTOM, AL" wrote:
> To those who manage others, are managed by others, work in teams, work with
> engineers/SW developers:
>
> Please share your most important tools, techniques, lessons learned, battles
> won/lost, how you gained knowledge/insight/seasoning from same.
[...]
> The challenges of managing the strong personalities we like to hire is a
> side-topic in its own right.

I'm not managing now (I've switched to freelance writing),
but in previous management positions I've had several
strong personalities in my groups. That in and of itself
has never struck me as unusual or difficult, since I have
a rather strong personality myself. ;-) But in two cases,
I was brought in to manage a group that included at least
one person who felt that he/she had been managing the group
unofficially and should have been promoted to manager. Not
an easy dynamic to walk into.

In both cases, I approached the groups as the -project-
manager as much as possible. After I came to understand
the strengths of the individuals in my group, I also made
sure they had enough responsibility to keep them interested
and challenged, and enough ownership of projects that "fit"
to keep them satisfied. My own role in the group, as I'd
explain it to them, was to monitor the progress of our
projects, keep external resources available, minimize
unnecessary and frivolous demands on our group's time, and
contribute to the projects as needed. Eventually, both of
the "unhappy" individuals came around to support me, they
both made strong contributions to the leadership of the
group, and one of them even sought career guidance from me.

Any other managers have thoughts on dealing with strong
personalities?

- Kate O'

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References:
how to manage [Was RE: Need New Concepts to Discuss (Was RE: Nee d help please)]: From: RUBOTTOM, AL

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