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By Steve Jones,

Most of us have managers that are picked from the ranks of our technical staff. Often the most talented technical person, or most willing technical staff member, is promoted to manager, given a few hours of training on the various tools that he or she will use to deal with the administrative paperwork a manager fills out, and then cut loose to "manage" a group of people.

And they stink at it.

Most of them are bad. Not only are they bad managers, they are often bad leaders, and many find their technical skills suffer as they split their time with managerial tasks. That certainly puts them in a bad mood and creates worry about their future. It's not even just in the technology industry, as we find that many managers are bad, yet still languish on for years. This despite the fact that research shows they are costing their companies profit.

Personally I think we are still evolving from the factory-like mentalities where managers needed to oversee workers and give them little leeway or choice in how they perform their jobs. Even in "knowledge work" or creative endeavors, managers too often feel the need to "do something" when they could often do less and get more accomplished. A big part of this is managers want to be paid more because they are responsible for people doing work. However they often don't accomplish more than their subordinates.

I doubt much will change, but I'd like to see managers for technical people (and directors even) paid less than their technical people, with less responsibility over workers' efforts. Help them get delays, issues, and problems not related to their tasks out of the way and let them get work done.

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