Management 101 – by Nicholas Wang
Saturday night, went to watch Fantastic 4 with Queenie and Miho. The subway was packed on the way back, it really sucked! The reason why I like living in Astoria is b’coz it’s less crowded than Manhattan but is still pretty close to everything. I really hate it when I’m going home in a packed subway.
Anyway, on my way back, I was thinking of work (yes, my mind skips all over the places all the time). I’m revising the scripts for account suspension, which was developed 9 months ago, also by me. It’s in testing stage now and I need to set up the entire testing procedure and shit. I could’ve started doing testing early last week, but since moving to the Sales Ops department, I’ve been binded by a lot more “rules” and red tape. One of the rule is, I can’t communicate directly with anyone outside of our department anymore, and that for me is a real pain in the ass. After finishing development, I had to send a written report to my manager, and then she’ll communicate on my part to the programmers in MIS, and come back to me with the “OK go ahead”, along with her expectations to see the resulting changes to current data once my new script runs. Basically, what could’ve been a 2 hours communication with MIS directly by myself, is now changed into a week turn-around time.
It’s kind of funny, there’s a Chinese proverb – “When you hang around with 3 persons, you must be able to learn from at least one of them.” Now I understand that not only can you learn from others who are better than you, but you can also learn from others’ mistakes! 😀
When I was in the Data Quality department, I had started a simple doc called “Management 101”, it’s all stuff I learned from my manager at the time. I learned a lot from him, but it wasn’t until now that I realized what’s the greatest thing about his management style. My current manager is very strict, she values structure very highly, she doesn’t like her staff going around her back to ask other people anything because she said it would make her look bad. If possible, she likes to control every little detail of what you do. On my ride home, I realized that the result of this method is that your staff will grow dependent of your intructions, and in the long run, you’ll find that your will always have to “tell your staff what to do”, they won’t know how to take initiative and be “self-reliant”. This method SUCKS when implemented on creative minds and developers. It’s basically stopping the creative train with rules. My last manager in comparison, was the exact opposite. He let me know early on that he expected me to explore and find errors in the system and then fix them (hence Data Quality). When I have questions, I would ask him first as he was very knowledgable of the business, but he also encouraged me to go directly to the source and ask people in other departments. We would have weekly meetings and he would ask me what I’ve found and what I’m working on. He would ask me questions, provoking me to think deeper into the issues that I had found, and in many cases his questions would let me to discover broader problems. I learned a lot and came up with a lot of ideas. When I present my ideas to him, a lot of times he would shoot them down… but he also told me to not give up so easily. Basically, I learned that my manager may shoot down my ideas a lot, but if I think I’ve got a good thing, don’t be afraid to argue with my manager! Under this management method, your staff will become highly creative and self-reliant. Like myself, I alone attacked the ONE problem within our company! I asked the right people about the products we offer, the databases’ structures… I single-handedly created the database view that became the “bridge” of two systems. I came up with the ideas, initiated projects, developed, implemented and then moved on to the next project. I know that the biggest problem with this is that it lacks structure, but I still think it’s the better way. We should let ideas flow at the top and put “helpers” on the side to help with organizing and documenting.