Tip: Never Manage anyone who you can’t do his job!

Yes, I know that the normal way to manage, is to delegate those image things that you don’t know how to do to others, but that is disastrous.

When I began managing I used to bring in someone to do the things that I didn’t know how to do. As I am a software developer and not a salesman I bought in a salesman to help me out.
Imagine how hard it is to interview someone who you can’t do his job.
In the end I managed to bring in someone I like, I told him. “Ok, you have a $200K quota this month, bring me the results”

There are only two outcomes that happen, when you employ someone who knows how to do something that you don’t.

  1. The Employee will fail, the team will not succeeded, goals not met, nothing is in integrity, you will find excuses and probably fire him or be fired yourself
  2. The Employee will succeed, you have no idea how. You have no idea how to enable the Employee to grow. After some time the Employee will either fail (see 1) or will be so good that management will replace you with him.

The hard fact reasoning behind this is that if you don’t know how to do it yourself, you will have to manage by result and not by integrity (integrity is knowing the controllable actions that the employee needs to do, that will lead to that result). Managing by result is a good way to get excuses but the a bad way to get results.

In my case, I couldn’t explain to the salesman, how to get sales, what needs to be done to get sales, how to be motivated, what reports are needed and how to be in integrity.

Do it yourself

There is only one solution: Learn it yourself.
Expand yourself, leave your comfort zone and do what you have to do to get the job done. Manage yourself with integrity and learn how to do the job. You are clever, you are the manager, you can do it!

Only AFTER you know how to do the job, you can get someone to help you out. That person might know how to do it better then you, but you will already know what it takes to succeed in the job.

You can then manage the integrity and help the employee succeed in his job.

Tip: Follow this rule and you will never become a PHB

6 comments
  1. I cannot agree with you on this point. I beheld a lot of managers who cannot do his employees’ jobs but also succeed in management.

    There is something, we can call it Zen, that is common to any kind of jobs. A manager without much programming background can give advices to a programmer based on his experience in other area.

  2. Morgan,
    I used to think so too, but at the end a manager that cannot to the job himself will never be a good manager.

    There is a reason that Software Managers get paid more then Store Managers. If there was a common ‘Zen’ all store managers would become software managers.

    There are so many things that fail when you recruit someone who can do something that you cannot.
    1. How do you recruit good developer?
    2. How do you motivate your developers?
    3. How do you help them when there is a dilemma that needs your attention?
    4. How do you know if they are sloppy or professional?
    5. How do you challenge your developers and help them grow?

    You have to discover how to do it yourself before delegating to others.

    I have been on both sides. I have managed and been ‘managed’ in the past by people who can’t do my job. For most times, being managed by someone like that, is frustrating. The PHB just gave stupid advice and thought of himself as really clever. But never really managed.

    Even in Zen (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4790.html) Leadership Starts with Self-Discovery

    The question is, as a manager, why don’t you just learn how to do it? What is stopping you? Could it be that you have to learn, grow and leave you comfort zone? If so, then as Nike says: Just Do It.

  3. It’s an interesting argument. When I think about it, all the good managers I’ve had were people who knew how to do my job. All the bad managers I’ve had did not know how to do my job.

    So, while it’s no proof, my own anecdotal evidence suggests Eli is on to something.

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