Tech Manager—Show and Tell

Way back in November 2006 I wrote an article for AUGIWorld about the need for CAD Managers to make sure they do not become invisible to their firms. I referenced a saying that I have used over the years to put it all into perspective…

“When I am doing my job right, I become invisible.”

I then reviewed the good and bad impact of becoming invisible.  I recently discussed this with a colleague and it reminded me of what I wrote. This article will build on that one. You can go back and read that one if you have access to old issues (a perk of advanced AUGI memberships). In a nutshell, when things are going good and your environment is humming, it appears that the CAD Manager does not exist. You need to make sure that people know you are there. You need to do a little of what you did in kindergarten...

Show and Tell

In early childhood, everyone was encouraged to bring something to school for “Show and Tell.” In what may have been their first experience in public speaking, each little student would stand in front of the classroom and share something with fellow classmates. They would hold an object and talk about it.

For some, this exercise was the chance to gather all eyes and ears on them and they loved it. For others, it was torture to have everyone looking at them and listening to every word they said. I am not sure where you fell in that continuum, but everyone had to participate.

You should continue to participate today. After reviewing the AUGI Salary Survey in this issue, you may be elated or depressed. You are either ahead of the crowd or maybe behind it. By showing your stuff and telling others about your accomplishments, you stand a better chance of increasing that salary.

I am encouraging you to continue to Show and Tell at work. Not by standing in front of the room and holding up your coffee mug and telling everyone that you got it for Father’s or Mother’s Day, but by showing others what you can do and then telling them what you have done.

In a classic “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strip, Calvin is at school during Show and Tell. He is standing in front of the room and says, “Today for Show and Tell, I refuse to show you what I brought and I refuse to tell you anything about it.” Needless to say, he did not do well and ended up going to the principal's office. Do not follow his lead.

Show It

Most Tech Managers got where they are by showing that they have the savvy to make more progress than others. They are more productive. They manage well. They are at the top of their tech game. They are planning and executing with vigor. They are getting so much done. They are impressing their peers and management with the knowledge they have. They are doing a great job of showing that they have what it takes.

When asked if something is possible, Tech Managers roll up their sleeves and jump in. They are determined to prove their worth by action. What a great attitude. They don’t make promises unless they know they can keep them. They back up their words with work. They dig in and figure out the answer to tech troubles. They demonstrate the software, train the staff, and take charge when problems come along. When their solution is challenged, they prove it works. They may say, “Words are nothing, actions are everything.”

“Isn’t that what it takes?” they ask. “Getting things done is more important than talking about it,” they continue. This is very true. If you are all talk and no action, then people will soon lose interest and go find someone who can get things done.

You must get things done. This is the Show part. Show me what you can do—don’t tell me. If you have nothing to show for all the effort you put in, then your salary will not reflect the value you bring. You have to show what you know. But you cannot stop there. People will be impressed, but may soon say, “What have you done for me lately?”

Tell It

You have to tell people what you are doing and what you have done. Most people are too busy to notice what you are doing. They are too busy trying to get their own jobs done and may not even see what you bring to the table. If they do not see your actions, then they certainly will not remember what you have done for them in the past. You have to tell them.

Take the time to tell people what you are up to. “I don’t know how to put this… but I’m kind of a big deal” - Ron Burgundy. You may not want to come off like the Anchorman, but you do need to speak up. It is so ingrained in us not to brag that we fail to mention what we have accomplished. We need to remind others of our contributions, with humility and at the appropriate time. When you do, there are some things to keep in mind.

Do it at the right time

Don’t just walk up to a group and spout off about what you just achieved. They may not care or even worse, they may be offended. Bring up your efforts when the topic moves to an area where you contributed. You may make it a question: “Did the tip I provided help?” They then know there was a tip or trick and that you provided it. They may give you positive feedback and thanks (they recall and recognize what you did) or they may tell you that it did not (allowing you to “show” them some other tip).

Don’t compare yourself to others

Saying that you completed the project on time or early is fine. Saying that you completed the project faster than others (and using their name) is not. Comparing yourself to others is not well received. Don’t put others down, either. Don’t preface your comments with, “You know that problem that no one could fix? I fixed it.”

Tell a story

Couch your accomplishments in the middle of a story that includes others. The team did a great job and you contributed “this piece.” Bring up your part in the successful efforts only in moderation. Don’t blow that horn too long or too loud.

Be brief

Don’t go on and on about what you did. Keep it short and to the point. If no one comments, just move on. If they ask questions, expound a little more and then stop. Too often we are tempted to go on about some milestone we hit or a problem we fixed. Just drop a line or two and let the words do the work. People will register what you said and take notice over time. Don’t push it.

Keep a list

I have come across many Tech Managers who cannot quickly show me what they have done in the last few months or year. They are extremely busy and effective, but they may not have anything to “show” for it. It wasn’t that they didn’t accomplish anything, but that they do not recall what it was. They are so focused on the present that they forget the past. They are shocked when others do not recall or notice what they have done.  Make a list in your head, digital, or on paper. Reviewing it yourself will bolster your confidence and give you reminders on what you might share when the time is right.

So going forward, make a list of the things you have done in the past few months or year and start dropping things into conversation. It takes practice to know what to share and how to share it. Just keep practicing your show and tell skills.

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