Every expert is a manager

19.06.2017
It is common for people to see some invisible but solid line between an expert and a manager. And due to this black-and-white approach many specialists suffer a much harder acquisition of managerial skills than they could.

Does being a manager mean having people who report to you? Or does it mean independent decision-making? or resource management? or stakeholder management? It’d be fair to say that all of it and more. And it’d be even more fair to say that any job is a managerial job: designers, coders, doctors, nurses—everyone is a manager.

You always have at least one person reporting directly to you — yourself.

Everything you’ll learn about managing a team applies to managing this one person: you need to pay attention to your own motivation, you’d better use some tools for your own efficiency. You also need to clearly understand tasks assigned to you, articulate their goals and your level of responsibility for them. Right, it’s your boss's responsibility to worry about all of that. But the moment you start backing up your supervisor on it you’ll see a leap in your satisfaction, because you’ll become more aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing and of its results. Besides, every boss is imperfect: taking responsibility for yourself you’ll make your career pace depend only on your own ambition and not on someone’s ups and downs.

Everything you do is a project.

You might already see where I’m going. Let’s say you are a designer and agree that every mock-up you do is a project. To finish it you probably need several steps, some codependent: sketching, sketch approval from the development team, picture hunting and so on. The whole project has its deadline and so do some tasks within it (for example if approval is needed from a person who has a planned vacation). This is called scope and time management. You have resource-management as well — your own time and sometimes contractors or internal service-providers like researches. You definitely have stakeholder-management because there’s at least the person who assigned the project to you, there’re customers and there’re usually some rules the company agreed to comply with (like brand-book). I could go on but I hope this examples pretty much prove the statement.

The point of owning this approach is not only to boost confidence, though it is a valid reason.

It’s also to motivate everyone to start treating their everyday jobs as managerial jobs, start seeing related challenges on the way and start dealing with them sooner rather than later. Cause “later” is when you’ve suddenly been assigned a complicated project with a team, a budget, a deadline and a bunch of stakeholders (and believe me it happens overnight more often than you think). Everything would start falling apart even if you were prepared. And if you are not prepared the first reaction will be to start doing everything yourself without delegating—just burying yourself under task overload to escape responsibility—and repeating every other “managerial” mistake from textbooks.

I’ve had an uneven career path and I want to make other people’s paths easier.

I’m going to share my experience and insights in this blog trying to keep it practical, doable and simple. Feel free to subscribe and give any relevant feedback ∆