When I started Alien Skin Software I was focused on not being like big companies with their oppressive management. That sounds nice, but I took it too far. Without any management you can have people wander off, either not working hard or working on tasks that don’t help the team. A little management is a good thing.

Now everyone has a manager who they meet with once a week. The manager doesn’t give many orders. He is there to advise and point out when the employee is losing sight of the goal. In my experience, productive people like to have someone to discuss their challenges with. Sometimes your coworkers are too busy to give thoughtful advice, but a good manager will make time to thoroughly understand your problems and help you work out tough decisions.

A useful aspect of the weekly meetings is that the employee and manager get frequent feedback on how they are doing. Everyone should notice if a problem is developing. Of course this assumes that there is good communication. That is mostly the responsibility of the manager, in asking tough questions and creating an environment in which the employee can be critical or ask for help without getting in trouble.

If a manager only gives feedback once a problem is huge or at a yearly performance review then the employee is often surprised. Then it may be too late to bring the two viewpoints back together.

Our management style guarantees that everyone has at least one person who understands what they are working on and is available to advise. Key to making it work is that a manager’s other duties can’t take up all of their time. If you throw management responsibilities onto someone who is already 100% busy with another job then you are setting everyone up for failure.

About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.

One Comment

  1. Eddie August 18, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Every car has a dash board. Air planes have big dash boards. You are out of control if you do not have proper indicators. The quarterly reviews and annual appraisals are so important without which, one will be flying in the dark. However, for companies with stacks of middle management, try to do the reviews and appraisals in reverse order: in other words, you are the boss, you do not write your manager’s appraisal; your managers do not write the superintendents appraisals; the superintendents do not write the supervisors appraisals; and the supervisors do not write the workers appraisals. Do it the other way round: Let the workers write the supervisors appraisals; the supervisors write the superintendents appraisals; the superintendents write the managers appraisals and the managers write your appraisal.

    Try it. You’ll like it. (OK, go have a meeting and get feed back on what I said)

Comments are closed.