Monday, July 11, 2011

My Boss is Weak In Technical

My boss doesn’t know what I”m doing! My boss is lack of technical skills! I lazy to talk to my boss because he is weak in technical. A good boss supposes to know better than me, why he still ask me? Does this sound familiar to you? Well before you complain, let’s look at what are the management skills needed from a single contributor to first-line, middle and top managers in a company.

Notes
  1. Technical skill is a skill to perform each single detailed tasks. Human skill a skill to deal with human and resources to accomplish the company’s goals. Conceptual skill is a skill to understand the business need and set directions for the company.
  2. The area of the shape tells you how much the role should spend their time in technical, human and conceptual. The total area for each role or shape should be the same. We have only 24 hours a day. :)

Is My boss Really Weak in Technical or….

Well I agree your boss is weak in technical. So you expect your boss should be better than you since he/she has worked so many years in the industry? If this is the case, you’re really in deep trouble because when your boss is better than you technically, you’re actually underperformed. Let’s look at the diagram above, a first-line manager supposes to spend less time in technical than a single contributor. How could you expect your manager is better than you since he spend less time than you? Yes, you’re underperformed!

If you look at the other way, let’s assume you’re not underperformed and you boss is really damn good in technical. You should start asking if your immediate boss focus on the right things? He should spend more on the human side for the skills. Does he do that? That is the reason why not all managers are suitable to be managers. In this case he is probably better to stay in the technical path (e.g. group lead, team lead) rather than in management path.

So think about it again. Is your boss really week in technical? It is expected your boss has less technical knowledge than you, and your role to explain to him and make sure he has the right amount of detail information.


Discussion

That is the general understanding of management skills. The higher you go, the less technical you’re as you’re now moving towards more human and conceptual management skills. Please set at least the right expectation to your manager. Having said so, one may still challenges this statement. The first argument of this is does this also apply to a technology company? Basically in a technology company, even managers are expected to be strong in technical? Is that true?

I myself work in a technology company and I have seen middle managers are damn good in technical and also both human and conceptual skills? Those are usually the outstanding manager. Is the expectation now set to the manager in a technology company somehow different? If that is the case, looks like being a manager in a technology company is a lot more harder. What do you think?

8 Comments:

Kenny said...

I have the opposite experience - my boss cannot accept that he has less technical knowledge than me.

ChampDog said...

That isn't right, IMO. I think sometimes it also depends on situation.

For example in Public or in front of people, most bosses tend to take care of their face. So, they can't admit they don't know. In private between you and him, probably he will admit that you're better! Perhaps your case is like that.

Anyway, I don't see anything wrong to say "I don't know" even in the Public if you really "don't know".

Michael Tsen said...

technicality is a personal definition that is subject to scoping and degrees. ie. I am technically strong in management but I am technically weak in handling crazy women.

no, its not 'particularly' hard to be a middle manager in a technological company. Once you get the right hint of life, it can be all the same and yet can find the uniqueness in each.

ChampDog said...

I think the technical I meant here is more on the technical skills that directly related to the product implementation. If you go up higher, naturally you’re less in touch on those technical stuff anymore. Of course this depends on how big is your organization. The diagram that I shown is more applicable to a big organization.

I agree that it can be all the same when you can master it in any position. My question is more like how a middle manager should spend their time in these 3 areas? Is it expected they have same level of technical skills with his/her sub-ordinates? If yes, how is that possible based on the chart that I have in this post?

One possibility is he/she spend > 100% which I said the expectation is somehow higher. Thus, it is harder. The second possibility you need to be smarter. You still spend 100% of your time but your technical skills is better than your sub-ordinates. The question is, does a technological company has such expectation?

Alvin Lim said...

Different position requires different skills. A good leader aka ur big boss should be a visionary who can lead the company to greater heights thru his visions. He should be supported by a more managerial person who helps him keep things in check.

Without these 2 at the top, the company will suffer. It's like ying and yang.

But of coz, both of these need to be supported by tonnes of people who know technical stuff...the fundamental skills which keep the company alive.

So when I heard a friend of mine who laughed at his CEO "u know, he didn't even know how to code!" my only response to him ...er...i think i laughed, but i know that...if the CEO sits down and improves on his coding...the company is doomed =_=

ChampDog said...

Very true, Alvin. Visionary is just one of the leadership skills. Some leaders are very good in that but some are not so good. A true leader will know how to make use of different skills from different people to make the right decision.

Every position has their own challenges or difficulties and you can only truly understand that when you're in that position.

That also means being a good employee, you should put yourself on their shoes. :)

If CEO knows how to code, that company probably has less than 5 employees. That CEO is the programmer too! :D

Michael Tsen said...

Bill Gate is sort of still a programmer, Mark Zuck IS definitely still a programmer ... they both have more than 5 employees :p

ChampDog said...

Bill Gate still? Is that true? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, I will believe. :)

So, does this theory true - management people in a technological company is expected to be strong in technical (e.g. know how to code)???


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