What's a Good Manager

  • Comments posted here are about the content posted at http://www.sqlservercentral.com/columnists/jchan/2768.asp

  • A very good article.  The part about trust and respect is very true. 

    Not enough feedback about management is processed thoroughly both during and after an employee's tenure.  And even when it is processed, it can be misconstrued as sour grapes.

    Companies pay a lot of money to recruit employees and they don't seem to be able to equate this against the cost of having good managers in place that will prolong the life of the employees that they manage.

    Managers should be continually assessed through an appraisal system and special attention should be paid to what their subordinates have to say about them.

  • Hi,

    A very good article.

    My points :

    >> I think all the company small or Big should have a manager feedback form which should filled up the employees once in every 3 months.

    >> This form should be checked by the CEO or the Chairperson of that company.

    >> Depending on the feedback even managers appraisal should be effected.

    This way the organization will be transparent to everyone.



    Minaz Amin

    "More Green More Oxygen !! Plant a tree today"

  • Hi,

    First Post for me!

    Well, my point is that article is very good.

    I started to work about 3 years ago... and I could see what this article describes. I saw very bad managers who yell at me for any reasons... and good manager too.

    I manage a 4-7 people team, and I try to do as good as I can. I don't try to be a good manager, I try to be myself. I respect the people I work with, and even if we haven't the same tasks, we are a team so we help each other, and I try that everyone enjoy working like that...

    It's just respect between peoples... if you respect the other, then they'll respect you.

    I know I hadn't a consistent experience in management... and my feedback would probably change in the futur, but i think I'm close to the reality....

    Any feedback is welcome! 🙂


    CedrickB. - FRANCE

  • I think we probably all have good and bad experiences throughout our working lives. The view of a good manager is subjective, those working for a manager will have one and those for whom the manger works another, it is very unlikely there will be much common ground between the two.

    Probably the company ethos will be the main influence, management by fear is a common factor in many corporates as is the ability to pass the buck efficiently. The ability to play the internal politics game is quite crucial and this may or may not be obvious to those who are managed.

    I have never worked in a job I don't like and having had fairly extensive management training and experience I can see from both sides, sometimes, as I don't like the politics and pc stuff which can impair efficient management I choose not to these days and work for my own company.

    Interesting article which is probably going to spawn a series of  "my experience was worse than yours" or "bad managers I have known" which will detract from any serious discussion.

    [font="Comic Sans MS"]The GrumpyOldDBA[/font]

  • I really enjoyed reading this article. It is full of good ideas.

    One point I'd like to emphasise is that  the 'team' management skills are easy to define and train. They are quite different from technical skills in their nature but, just as nobody is born with programming skills, so it is with the skills to manage a team. What always puzzles me is that people are prepared to take on a management role without any training, experience, or backgroung reading, whereas most of us would feel shame and guilt about taking on a technical IT role without training or experience.

    The other point which comes out strongly from this article is that we should be absolutely frank with our managers about what we think of their 'team' skills, and assist them as much as we can to improve their skills. Good teams tend to get good managers. Maybe we all need training in 'Team' skills.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor

  • actually I have seen ( been part of ) some good team training at work ( I'm not actually convinced it produced the desired effect, however&nbsp and I've carefully kept the details just in case!

    Communication is always the key, something which is sometimes seen as bad - hence the IT silo approach. I'm not sure about talking to managers about team skills , especially if it can be taken as criticism, I sometimes think employees , as against contractors/freelancers, are much more constrained - worries about pension, holidays, propects, appraisals, bonus etc. etc.

    Whilst I might agree team/management skills can be easily defined and taught, learning and /or adopting them is another matter.

    [font="Comic Sans MS"]The GrumpyOldDBA[/font]

  • Good article. Interesting points. I've been at both extremes of the scale at large & small companies. Heck, I even went through the management change at a large company where the good manager was replaced with the demon manager from hell (who, by the way, when I quit, told me that if she ever had the chance to prevent my getting a job or could fire me in the future, she would, lovely person).

    I don't know that I agree that things are getting worse & worse as far as management goes. My worst managers are in the past & most of my most recent managers are good people trying to do a good job. The thing is, just as I screw up occasionally on a database design or a process or a new query, my managers have made some seriously questionable decisions. As hard as it is to do, I've tried to take the attitude that they're trying to do as good a job as I am until and unless evidence to the contrary surfaces. That attitude has served me well because I've been able to develop more communication with my managers saying "Hey, I think you really balled up this call and here's why." Even if they don't agree with me, I can at least get their reasoning which, surprisingly, frequently makes sense.

    As far as people being trained as managers... While Phil is right, no one is born to code or to manage, there are inherent predilictions that make people better at one job than another. I know that I stink at management but I'm at least capable as a coder. So I try to play to my strengths and avoid management. On the other hand, I've got a co-worker who's a great coder, but he's also a natural as a manager. Despite the fact that he's younger & less experienced than I am, I know I'm going to watch him climb the corporate ladder like a monkey. Not only am I OK with it, I'm encouraging & helping him because he's going to be the kind of manager all of us want to work for.

    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... Theodore Roosevelt
    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2022 Query Performance Tuning, 6th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • It's not easy to be a good manager OR a good employee, both take experience and feedback. The most effective feedback comes from a mentor if you can find one, someone that will give it to you straight and that you know you don't have to filter what they are telling you. Experience, well, it's painful for the learner and the learnee:-)

  • A great article. There is quite a lot in it that I recognised & which ultimately led to me stepping down from a management post to going back and being a techie.

    I simply couldn't put up with the management bs whilst trying to look after the welfare of my team. The last straw came for me when my manager found out that I had encouraged a staff member to resign and go back to university. The member of staff was clearly unhappy in her job and although we tried a few things it was pretty clear that she was in the wrong career and was very unhappy to boot. The two of us sat down together and talked things out with the result that I encouraged her to go back to university and go down a different career path. She graduated with honours from her masters programme and is very happy in her new position. We meet frequently for lunch and she is like a different person now.

    When my management team found out boy did I get a right rollocking from then as they viewed the staff member to be one of their most valuable. So ultimately her happiness ment nothing to them and only productivity counted (even though she went about her work with little enthusiasm or cheer).

    Since I've been back as a techie I've experienced both good & bad management, but now I concentrate on the job & when bad management comes my way I know enough to manipulate the situation and work arround the problem.

  • This topic is very interesting. I have researched qualities of effective leaders/CEOs/CIOs.

    I found one article that sums it up in 3 points


    - Build trust

    - Encourage change

    - Use effective measures of performance.

    I think that these 3 points are simple, yet very powerful. If a manager uses these points to manager and lead their team, they will be respected. I believe that it will remove the need to yell, or put down, or do anything else that is detrimental for the team and company.

    I also discovered the "Toyota Way" of leadership and innovation. I think that the overall idea of promoting change at Toyota is the main reason why they build cars so well. They are focused on continuously improving their processes.

    If you are interested in finding out more about the "Toyota Way", read this article:


    It really hit me that my interests in Unit testing and continuous software integration are aligned with what they are always trying to accomplish at Toyota: continuous improvement. I am sure that there are management issues in certain groups at Toyota, but their overall vision and execution is impressive.

  • "I see that the number of bad managers has been increasing in recent years. Is this my imagination or has there been a change for the worse?"

    In my experience, its not necessarily that someones technical skill (no matter how good their people skills are) lets them down as a manager - I used to have an amazing manager, lacking in technical skills but had no problem in coming and asking for technical assistance - I think a huge problem is that they have no skills in the problem domain of what they are managing.

    While having great people management skills might make up for some this, it leaves them with no understanding of what they are managing, most of their input is superficial and made up for by those working for them when the details matter, and they arent able to have decent long term strategies in place that really work.

    It seems that more and more, gone is the day when someone worked their way up the ladder, years of experience under their belt, (if capable) eventually rising management level. I see many managers these days who are managers because of the management training course they did, or because they have been managers somewhere else (after doing a training course) - maybe managing a completely different problem domain.

    With the increase in managers who don't really know what they are managing, Ive also witnessed an increase in those sorts of managers hiring more of `themselves`. Then you get into a loop! Bad managers hiring more bad managers.

    This hierarchy of bad management also means upper (bad) managment cant spot problems with lower management - they dont have the skill set to recognise whats going on. Maybe a reason why some departments completely fail?

    There is also my favorite, which fits in with the above. The manager who doesnt have the technical skills, or the domain skills, but THINKS they do, and tries to `correct` their staff members who know what they are doing inside out.

    Martin (who has had to work with managers along these lines a fair few times)


  • My "Bad Manager" experience was a true learning experience in my career.  He had his own philosophy on teaching us his management techniques.  Just a couple of tibits into his style -

    He would regularly show up late 10 - 15 minutes late for meetings and then make us rehash everything we had been discussing for the previous 10 minutes.  When I thought this was just his way I found out he told someone this was a way to convey power.

    Next, His advice to a coworker during a review was to speak over people and be cockier.  His belief was being cocky was the way to be promoted.

    Also, he told a coworker who was having personnel life issues that he could be having back problems like another coworker.  The personnel issues were very serious and his words were not the calming influence one needs to hear.

    And lastly, if he did "buy" a treat for the team he would get the day old doughnuts with the 50% off sticker.

    I could go on and on but why bother.  He did teach me a valuable lesson.  Do not accept a bad manager who doesn't care about his people.

  • Oh, come on.  There is little difference between the first and last manager - both border if not cross over into verbal abuse.  Flat out, there is no reason EVER for a manager to yell at an employee, and if that is incorporated into their particular management "styles" then you are working for a bad manager.  End of story no matter how many times the manager apologizes afterwards.

    And the part about a good manager "guiding careers?"  My God, are you a professional or a child?  An effective manager is one who anticipates the needs of his staff in getting the job done, and paves the way for the need to be met BEFORE the employee is held up by this.  A good manager LISTENS to his employees and helps them play to their strengths even when it might be at cross purposes to their spoken desires.  In short, an excellent manager gives the employee the path to succeed rather than setting them up to fail.

    Recognizing and rewarding accomplishment is an absolute necessity.  The learning Oracle example highlights this.  Every manager should know the market they are in, and that manager SHOULD have known CICS programmers were readily available.  At that point, you look at your staff and decide who has earned the privilege of learning new (and marketable) job skills on the company dime.  You reward the staff member with the new, plum assignment and backfill their job, even if it is a mission-critical role.  That is, unless you take the approach by so many managers and companies these days, and assume that employees are like buses - another one comes along every 30 minutes.

    Finally, the old chestnut about a manager not really needing technical skills is a load.  While the manager might not need to be as technically inclined as his staff, he needs to understand the business at that level.  You can't take a sales manager and make him the supervisor of a group of developers just because he has people skills.  Let's face facts here - at the best of times, IT lifers have more personality quirks than your average employee, and knowing how the employee works - of which the technical aspect is one of the most key elements - is how a manager succeeds.

    I am sorry, I don't mean to be so hyper-critical, but having been on all sides of this particular table it is a subject I am VERY passionate about.  I once worked for a man who got in the deep brush with me and helped me clear the path - and then stood in the background while I got the credit for a job well done.  If I screwed up, he stood between me and the user and took the heat.  If I tried to snow him on a tech issue, he called me on it because he knew what I did, not just what our department's mission was.  And when I found a new way of doing something that saved ANYTHING, he rewarded the effort.  Although he had as much ego as anyone else, he knew how to succeed, and that meant helping his people to succeed in any way possible.  After a few years managing the group, the powers that be tapped him to become the youngest VP in company history.  Because they, too, recognized how important the individual successes on a team are.

    More than anything else I have learned in my career, I have held on to this.  Success comes double when you create the environment for your staff to shine.  A manager is part counselor, mediator and facilitator, not a traffic cop.

  • I'm not sure I agree on this one. My manager came out of sales & has few technical skills but he's doing a pretty good job managing the team. His issues were HUGE about five years ago because he didn't know who to trust on the team for technical advice and therefore trusted everyone. He finally learned who was consistently right, level-headed and had the company's interests in mind and now, when he needs to make a decision based on technology, goes to the right people first.

    On the other hand, I had a manager who was very technical and felt the need to question every decision, in detail. It really can swing both ways.

    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... Theodore Roosevelt
    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2022 Query Performance Tuning, 6th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

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