Friday, September 24, 2010

Marilla Walking

Marilla is finally taking her first steps. She's taken a few small half steps over the past couple of weeks. Today she actually started walking to people. Our babysitter's daughters had her walking between them today. Tonight she's walked to me and Lee Ann.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Training Your Leaders

I found this article on training managers at tech companies on slashdot. It's interesting in that new companies don't really have a culture of management. The founders may still be running the company. Since they're techies, they are probably young.

This may be a little different from other people starting small business, but I don't know. If you're starting a small business (non-tech related), it seems to me that you may or may not have all of that knowledge either. You'll probably hire an accountant to keep the books and make sure that you get your taxes paid on time. An attorney will probably need to be engaged, especially if the company will be incorporated. There are lots of books and local programs that will help the new small business owner learn things that they probably don't already know. So it seems like this may be a common issue.

The issue with tech companies especially the very large one is that they seem to grow very quickly. Other small business may not have this problem. Tech companies seem to grow into huge behemoths almost over night. If a business has this problem, it's probably prudent to hire someone that can help manage the company while not interfering with founder's vision.

The same author had another article aboutold techies. It paints a pretty discouraging picture for those of us that are aging and doing tech. It's almost an either or proposition. You can do tech related things, not focus on growing tech skills while picking management capability. Or, you must focus solely on tech skills picking up enough to do tech lead/team mgmt perhaps even enough for product management. The skills that you need as a someone that wants to maintain technical path are project level budgeting, hiring, and a focus on improving your capabilities.

You might ask why someone would want to remain on a technical path. My answer is better job security. Highly skilled technical people with update to skills and excellent background may have an easier time finding jobs than middle managers. Middle managers seem to be a dime a dozen. It seems to be the first to go at companies especially large ones.

Another issue is that at places like government contractors, getting into management position is harder due to competition with those that may have MBA and have started at the organization on a management track. This is especially true for those contractors that are Department of Defense (DoD) related.

The problem with DoD companies is that they'll be hiring most of their management from the either recently released/retired officers. Those individuals have plenty of experience managing people. (Probably not so much with EEO types of things though.) Middle mgmt will more than likely be ex military. This is especially true if they're expected to do business development/bring in contracts. They'll know the lingo and have contacts that are needed to form those connections.

Moving above middle mgmt in the above type of organization probably means that you'll need to have been a flag officer. Admirals and Generals are flag officers. It will be tough moving up. Perhaps those Generals/Admirals are worth it. I'm skeptical.

Former members of congress or high ranking government officials also take up those positions. Don't forget that Dick Cheney used to be Chairman and CEO at Halliburton. He certainly brought home the bacon once he became VP. (Yeah it's a snarky low blow.)

All in all, learning the soft skills of management/leadership is important. Even highly skilled individuals maintaining a technical path will need to lead teams of people. (Linus Torvalds is an example.) Just like your tech skills, you can't count on the company providing the training. You'll have to do your own reading or take classes for those things that can be taught. Leading and dealing with people will need to be learned on the job. Try to find a mentor that can help.