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Letters to a Young Manager

A sense of accomplishment, #124
LTYM > Managing People II

Dear Sophie,
If the first law of management is about accomplishing things through others, what is the second law?

Do you remember the first project you completed? How did that feel?

One of the things about programming that I liked was when you got it right, it worked and gave you immediate positive feedback. That eureka moment was a strong motivator early in my career. Having the report or answer in hand that I produced was very satisfying.

Unfortunately, the source of my satisfaction had to change when I became a manager. I remember as a new manager thinking that I was spending all my time in meetings with people; "when was I going to get real work done," I wondered. Then I realized that the work was working with and through people. That was hard at first.

Over time (and error) I realized that now it was important that my team succeeded. That was my job. When, and only when, they accomplished their goals and the team's goals, would I feel good about my work.

So if the first law is that you must accomplish things through others, the second is even more challenging: your sense of satisfaction needs to come from others accomplishing their projects, their objectives. That is hardest for good technical people (and good sales people) to navigate. But you can't be a successful manager without it.


Moral of story:

To be a good manager you need to take pride in others

Discussion Questions:

1) What brings you the most satisfaction in your job?
2) How do you feel when someone on your team does a great job? Are you as excited about it?
3) If not, what would need to change for you to want to celebrate and take pride in their wins?

For Further Reading:

See "Accomplishing goals through others," Story #123

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