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Command and control

This isn't specific to software management, but a general people management issue:

Growing a company or group from a people management viewpoint seems to be a skill that's unknown to many software managers, even though it's an old, old problem.  I see the same patterns over and over again:

I have eight bosses.  This seems to happen to good people more often than not, for obvious reasons.

I have one boss, but he never tells me anything, and I have to figure out what my job is, and I'm always afraid I'm not doing what's expected of me.

I am a boss, just given responsibility for Group X, but my new boss, the previous manager of Group X, still runs it, frequently bypassing me (see problem 1).  Exchange Group for Application, Project, Codebase, whatever.

I've found myself in all of these situations at one time or another, sometimes all three simultaneously.  Any thoughts on remedies?  In the best cases, these problems worked themselves out over time, but in some cases, the difficulty was well-entrenched and quitting hasn't always been a viable option.

Friday, December 21, 2001

The companies I have worked for since college have all been of the "one boss, never tells you anything" type. One of those bosses actually commented, "Here at 'VastCorp', we give you just enough rope to hang yourself with..."(!) I think it tends to be a company culture, and tends to accumulate people who can deal with that culture.

My guess is you are at such a company because your personality is suitable for it (as am I). This is OK if there is plenty of work to do - you will find useful things to do and do them, and the people you do them for (colleagues, customers, etc.) will appreciate it.

Friday, December 28, 2001

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