Have you ever wondered why Johnny Jerk down the hall was promoted to that director slot while you were passed over? In my career as an IT professional I watched some young, fresh talent soar to the top – with just about everyone in agreement that they belong there and I’ve seen other tired old dog managers plodding along year after year at the same level. I’ve also seen some truly malevolent people promoted beyond their capabilities. Here are profiles of three managers with whom I once worked.
Sam started at the company after I did. He had an IT degree, a smiley face and a whole lot of energy. He always seemed willing to tackle new assignments, always had suggestions on ways to get things done and always managed to keep his staff pretty happy. He made manager of a group of 40 people shortly after I became manager of 12.
He initiated new programs that addressed real problems and was in a position to get noticed by multiple clients who had clout with management. Soon he became a director over that area. After a few years of continuing to provide great client service, deal successfully with issues and develop innovative solutions to new business needs, he was tagged to manage a new client conversion.
In the company where I worked this was a huge job, with tight time frames, large problems and high visibility. Doing it right meant a happy new client, doing it wrong or not getting it done meant lost revenue to the company bottom line. He did it right and won the Vice President position over that client area in the company.
To emulate Sam you should:
- Know your stuff.
- Use your brain to think up better ways to get the job done faster.
- Network within the company and with your clients and talk about what you are doing.
- Be savvy about people in power and how things get done in your company – study the undercurrents of behavior and relationships.
- Step up to opportunities.
- Enjoy your job.
- Treat folks fairly and reward jobs well done.
- Use praise lavishly when deserved.
Jacob started at the company way before I did. He did not have a degree, but had managed to move up to a client services business manager position. He loved to smooze with the clients, hated dealing with issues and was often rude, contentious and angry with his team mates. He was promoted to director after managing to smooze enough with clients to get some new business commitments for the company. Jacob was a salesman, he should never have been a manager. After failing to convert on the new business successfully, he was demoted to a business analyst.
To emulate Jacob:
- Spend a lot of time networking.
- Take long lunches with your favorite staff members.
- Park in the same garage as the executives – great for smoozing!
- Yell at your staff when in stressful situations so they work harder.
- Don’t worry about learning new things or keeping up with changes.
- Blame others for everything that goes wrong.
Tired Old Dog Manager
Silvia was a manager way before I was hired. She was a manager in the truest sense of the word in that she administered to her staff. Her staff were content, but not ambitious. Silvia was still a manager years later when I retired from the company.
To emulate Silvia:
- Play it safe – don’t seek out new opportunities.
- Cross your t’s and dot your “i”s – that’s whats important.
- Do enough to make sure you and your staff stay out of trouble but don’t rock the boat.
- Try not to stick out above the crowd, someone may try to get you to work more.
Although I changed the names, these three profiles represent actual people with whom I worked. Do you have some like them at your office?
What does it seem to take in your company to get ahead?
If you are interested in taking on more responsibility in hopes of better pay, what are you doing to get there?