Responses to Managing Tech Pubs

Subject: Responses to Managing Tech Pubs
From: jim witkin <jmwitkin -at- TELEPORT -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 17:37:07 -0700

I recently posted a request for feedback on the pleasures and pains of
managing a tech pubs group. I received about thirty responses from both
managers and those managed. Thank you to everyone who responded. A few who
had made the transition from worker bee to manager warned me to stay away,
recounting their own crash and burn stories. Fortunately, I heard from
others who have made the transition successfully. Several people asked me to
summarize and post to the list. I've tried to keep it brief, although some
of the responses I received were quite long. Seems that desired managerial
skills fall into four cateogories:

STEER THE SHIP - Define priorities for the group based on what is important.
Be assertive. Don't be afraid to tell employees what you want. Provide
employees goals and a purpose. Develop project plans. Estimate costs and
schedules. Assign personnel to projects/tasks.

STAND UP FOR THE CAUSE -- Go to bat for the tech pubs department and its
employees. Be the internal champion of the cause. Make sure engineers and
higher ups recognize and appreciate the contribution of tech pubs.

DO UNTO OTHERS -- Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Respect
the intelligence and capabilities of your employees. Include employees in
planning and decision making. Keep the staff up to date on new developments
in the company or product line that might affect their jobs. Be open to good
ideas even if you didn't think of them.

PROVIDE THE RIGHT TOOLS - Provide employees with up-to-date hardware and
software. Set documentation standards and style sheets. Ensure proper
version control. Set up smart network capabilities for the department.

By way of summarizing, one posting offered: "Be professional at all times.
In the end, To thine own self be true, and it shall follow as the night the
day that thou canst not be false to anyone."

P.S. One useful observation. In response to my question "what are important
managerial skills," managers tended to mention procedural skills like
scheduling and budgeting. Employees tended to mention communication and
people skills, like leading the team, being professional, and going to bat
for the department.

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