Manager – Shut Up

imageOne of the hardest things for me to do as a manager is to shut up!

When I see a flaw in our product or web site or in a plan session, I have to give my thoughts and ideas in order to make the best product.

Although I am making the product better, I am de-motivating the team. There is a simple equation that I forget to calculate when I give my (brilliant) ideas. I must calculate the value added to the product versus the motivation of the team. I am finding this very hard to do, but I must learn to shut up more often.

(picture from je2fs)
  1. I know the feeling. But at what point do you speak?

    I could say ‘when quality is sacrificed’, but quality to me is often not in view with quality of another: I’m a perfectionist – so little things that are irrelevant to most (like a JavaScript error icon sitting in the bottom of the window) stand out like beacons to me.

    What do you mean by ‘demotivating the team’? How does pointing something out demotivate? My view has always been, if it needs fixed, it needs fixed (or tweaked, or updated, or whatever).

  2. Reading this post gives me the impression that you have some very fragile employees in your care. I don’t think you do – but that’s the impression one gets in reading this.

    I, too, wonder: What do you mean by demotivating the team?

    And if you’re making the product ‘better’ – isn’t that all that matters? Isn’t every member of the team on the team for the specific purpose to make the product better? Isn’t that the unifying goal of the team?

    I face this same situation as the leader of a rock band (in my spare time; day job is a software developer). Every member of the band has the right – and is encouraged – to give constructive criticism for the explicit purpose to make the song better. No one on the team should take the criticism personally or as a personal attack on their ability as a musician. No one should become ‘demotivated’ to play based on that feedback/input/criticism.

    Because the whole point of any input or criticism is to make the end product better. That’s the unified goal of the team.

    If you can’t make the product better by opening our mouth, then why are you on the team?

  3. @Brian,
    Its a great question.
    We are trying to help our employers grow as well as helping them create the best product. By putting our ideas, we might create the best product *now*, but as the employee is not growing (his ideas are discarded) we are actually hindering the whole process.
    Sometimes, I find myself ‘fixing’ parts that are not that important. The harm it does to the employee is more than the value to the product. Silence is powerful

    Our team is very strong. This has nothing to do with picking our wars.
    I am interested to know what kind of leader are you in your rock band? Do you have the final word? Are you the composer and the others your workers? Are you all trying to grow? Do you have integrity? Do you decide? Do you just like playing music? Perhaps Managing is different then leading a band.

  4. @Eli
    As a leader of a band I try to be the facilitator. I try and do whatever is necessary to ensure everyone in the band is successful, and in that way I can ensure the band is successful. There’s also a logistical component to that as well (being the main contact point for people trying to contact or schedule the band). I really don’t see managing as being much different from leading in just about any context; whenever you’re in a position to lead or manage, your job is to make everyone better and to put everyone in a position to ‘win’ so that the team wins.

    Do I have final word? No, I don’t think so, but I’ve never tested that idea nor would I want to. I prefer being in a band, not being a solo act. We work collaboratively. There is a general direction and vision for the band that I had a hand in shaping when it was first formed, but that’s about it.

    Am I composer and everyone else is worker? No, not really. We do mostly covers, but the original stuff that we do write, everyone has input on that.

    Are we all trying to grow as musicians? Yes. Always.

    For me, this boils down to your idea of employee growth. It seems like a very limited view, to me. You seem to be under the impression that because you, the manager, came up with the idea, your employees cannot grow from it.

    I disagree totally. For my entire life I have been very observant of others. I have learned a lot just by watching other people make mistakes or being successful. I have learned what not to do, and what I should do.

    How can your employees not grow from this experience? They see you submit an idea that makes the product better – that should be valuable to them. Why is that any different from a junior team member coming up with the same idea? It shouldn’t matter where the idea came from, only that someone had the idea, expressed it, and the idea makes the product better.

  5. @Chris,
    I completely agree with what you say.
    There are two things that shutting up helps.
    1. Silence is powerful, sometimes not saying anything makes place for innovation
    2. I want my team to be better then me, if I keep on changing the product, the team might come to rely on me too much, instead of trying for themselves and growing. If I keep on ‘discarding’ their ideas – this will never happen.

    Now I have to find the right balance, between their creativity and my insights, so when I have an idea I try to calculate the effect of the idea on the team, so that I can get the right balance

  6. ARRRGH. The above posting hung for a long time (compare that tiatesmmp to this) while I tried other settings.Eventually:I go to TACO and “googlefriendconnect” is still blocked.I check NoScript again and gmodules is still not listed.I go to TACO and unblock “googlefriendconnect”Nothing changes on the Blogger page.I refresh the Blogger page.The Blogger comment box returns — and ARRRGHIt still contains the posting I typed earlier, with a new word verification waiting. The Preview shows but the actual editing box is unavailable, I can’t change what I typed, all I can do is post the comment.DONE.and this is the followup. It needed a new verification word typed in.(okay, I’m done, I’m handing this over to the TACO support folks

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