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TomJerry

Serving in an IT department of a non-IT company, I learned over the years one or two things about our business partners, who are our best friend and patrons, at the same time our ultimate source of headaches.

Bittersweet Partnership

After all, my job is to help them to be successful in their fields, in Sales, Marketing, Finance or Service. In a sense, IT department exists only because our business partners need us. And we need them too, to define the requirements and specs, to decide about the business logics, to promote the products we developed, to sponsor our projects, to give us feedbacks for improvements, etc. So, it’s truly a partnership.

However, we constantly fight with our business partners. They want too much from us within unrealistic short time. We insist on an absolutely necessary infrastructure change they don’t understand and consider too risky. We are furious that they keep changing their mind about the requirements in the last minute. They are bitter about the delay of the new release. This list can go on and on.

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In the summer of 2002, I was promoted from a senior developer to a manager leading a four person team. I was thrilled.

As other technical managers, my thinking was really natural. Since I was promoted, that means my way of doing things was the right way. Now, I just needed to require everybody to behave like myself and my team would be the best!

I failed in no time. It’s impossible to require everybody to behave like myself. I was young and single. Just got my master degree of computer science from a good university. I can adapt to new technologies easily. I can work 12 hours everyday including weekend. All my team mates were married and have family to take care of. They were much older than me. They couldn’t frequently spend their after work time working over time and learning new technologies. And they had their own ways of doing things and learning.

Fine. I would take all the work. Whenever they didn’t know how to do the job, I took over. Gradually, I found this wouldn’t work either since I barely have any free time left. The output of the team was not satisfactory.

I was very strict on every one’s job, maintaining a very high standard. I constantly criticized my team mate’s work and asked them to redo it multiple times. Eventually, I found that they started to ask me for very specific instructions and wouldn’t start the work until they get the instructions. I felt I was exhausted and couldn’t handle it anymore.

Why didn’t they listen to me? Why couldn’t they do the good jobs as I did? Why did they keep asking questions? Why cannot they work independently by themselves?

At my darkest moment as a new manager, I started to question myself. Maybe it’s because ME? Maybe I am not a good manager?

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