on April 13, 2006
One of the effects of the pending baby boom retirement cycle is going to be the exodus of an entire generation of management. A common solution to this problem in IT is to promote senior developers into management. A large percentage of these people likely had not given what it takes to be a manager much thought and being a good manager is, like a lot of things, a learned skill. Consequently, a lot of new managers face a steep learning curve upon elevation.
The premise of Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby's new book is that a lot of the skills necessary to be a great manager are not readily observable but happen in private with their interactions with their staff and colleagues Behind Closed Doors. The book follows Sam, a manager recently brought into an organization, over a 7 week period in 7 chapters; one per week. Each week has a broad goal to achieve such as "Learning about the People and Work" (week One) and "Managing Day to Day" (week Four). Within each chapter there are scenarios Sam encountered that week to achieve the week's goal. This structure is one of the stronger points of the points as the book as it transforms the narrative into a checklist for the reader's own managerial growth.
Another valuable item in the book in the series of short (most are only two pages) "Techniques for Practicing Great Management". These cover everything from coaching to running an effective meeting. These tips can be applied almost immediately and have a positive impact on an organization.
I enjoyed Behind Closed Door and my copy has lots of notes in the margins of ways I can apply the content. While the content is geared towards the new or slightly experienced manager, I would recommend it even those who have been doing it for awhile due to the breadth and applicability of the topics covered.