Tech Manager—Secrets I Keep About My Boss
Another article on the Secrets Tech Managers Keep. This one is about things you don’t typically share about or with your boss. Some are annoying, some can block progress and others can be deflating.
My Bosses Lack of Understanding is Crippling My Efforts
While I do not expect my boss to know everything I do, they should have a good feel for my typical functions and work week. I appreciate not being micromanaged. No one likes to have someone looking over their shoulder all the time. I appreciate the room to explore new tech, make some mistakes along the way and research productivity improvements.
Many Tech Managers report to non-technical executives that might be tech savvy but are not fully versed in everything you do. You need to keep them informed. You share project info and details adjusted to the level of understanding they have. You need to provide info about initiatives, progress, and completion. They need to know what you are doing. If they do not, and you are not telling them, it is your fault. That is not what I am talking about.
The concern is when they have approval and budget control on tech issues that they do not have a clue on the scope, effort, issues, or risks related to any given project that you might do. Especially if it is their fault for not having some framework of reference. These are the bosses that don’t care, but they don’t get out of the way. They just don’t want tech failures and they are looking for you to avoid them.
What to do about it – You need to keep them informed, even if they don’t care. Verbal and written reports on a regular basis need to be provided, even if unheard or unread. Help them understand the initiatives you have going at their level. Don’t try to swamp them with tech jargon. Give them the story in plain wording as non-techie as you can. Help them make the decision by bringing issues down to manageable choices, with definable outcomes. If all else fails, just ask them to give you a few weeks of piloting efforts to see what happens.
My Boss Does Not Support Me
What I mean on this topic is that some bosses may not care about the details of your area of oversight. They just want things to work, and they want you to make it happen. They may be negative at times. They may only interact with you when something goes wrong. They may not encourage you or give you accolades when things go right. They don’t share your successes with others. They do not seek to bring you on to project teams. You are not offered opportunities in tech that might come up. They do not look to advance your knowledge through training or professional development. Hopefully, it is not a combination of all of these traits, but no matter how you look at it, they are not very supportive.
What to do about it – Don’t share with them that you do not feel supported. At least not in such direct terms. Check yourself first. Make sure that you are not doing something that causes them to not be supportive. Do you shut them out of your processes. Do you not keep them informed? Do you report to others more than to them?
Continue to keep them informed and up to date on your efforts. Subtly remind them of your achievements and progress. Even if it seems like they do not care. Try to get longer and longer-term projects where you don’t have to seek their support (which they typically do not give). Get as much autonomy as possible, but always remain loyal and differ to them as your boss. Start building a supportive group of staff that does realize your value. Never exclude your boss, just include others as well.
I Know More Than My Boss
Chances are everyone reading this knows more than their boss does. That is because your expertise got you to this point. I sure hope you know a lot about your job functions, or at least are on track to know more. But sometimes Tech Managers report to higher ups in the same tech field. Their boss came through the ranks before them, and they are technically capable. But sometimes, the tech boss no longer knows more than you and you know more than them. This is a natural occurrence. As you move up the ladder, you stop doing the things you used to do and take on new roles. Your boss may no longer be hands on. They may not have kept up with the tech that got them to their current level. They will fall behind as new tech and updates happen. It does not take long. Sometimes things change rapidly, and it does not take long to fall behind. You now know more than them.
What to do about it – Don’t flaunt your knowledge. Over time, others will overtake you. It may take a long time, but it will happen. Work to keep your boss up to speed. Be respectful about what they do not know. Good bosses will realize you know more and lean into your expertise. Don’t expect them to know more than they do. They have other areas of focus now and cannot give as much time to staying current in some areas. Don’t upstage them. If you do have to step in to correct a misstatement they make, do it with kindness and offer a “clarification”, not a “corrective”.
So far we have discussed more than my original Top Ten Secrets Tech Managers Keep. With this article, I am up to eleven, and I am not done yet. I think I will have a few more for next month. See you then.