That’s an oxymoron right? Don’t all Managers/Leaders work? I heard this term coined many years – “You’re a working manager, Greg” – okay, that’s good to know. In the context of the below, I apply everything to the voice of the Software Development Manager.
If you look at the difference between a Team Lead and a Manager – I’ve always equated the Team Lead to being the fun job – take an active role in coaching and mentoring, provide insights into what is happening on your projects and keep your hands in the mud. If anything the Team Lead is the role where you really, really get to develop your leadership chops – learning how to get in front of problems, give feedback, develop software, improve on your architecture skills and overall – not have to worry about all those pesky objectives, vacation, sick days, barfing cat, etc problems.
You get to focus on the team.
Now the Working Manager has to deal with all that pesky stuff, and maybe they have a number of team leads reporting to them with a massive project portfolio underneath them that they need to work on and understand. But while the role of a Team Lead can be seen as largely black and white as dictated by their managers (the scope and size is limited), the Manager’s has to deal with the gray area. Why did they do that? Was their a pre-existing condition? What could I have done differently?
With all that to do, how then does a Manager find time to do their work and what exactly is their work?
If they are doing it write, they are taking on the Grunt Work that no one wants to do but needs to get done, they are doing the preliminary investigations that the team doesn’t have time to spend doing, they are working on the problemsets that are tricky and unknown and require a lot of hours to move a yard or two closer to AHA.
They are grinding, that is their work.
As much as an extra burden it is on a manager to take on that workload, that is the manager you want to seek out and whose team you want to join because you’ll know just by those actions that if they are willing to take all of that on to help you, imagine how they could really help you if you took on some of their workload.
My favourite quote on Working Managers is that their day doesn’t start until 5pm, up until then it’s all about the team, after 5pm it’s all about setting up the team for the next day.
That’s what a Working Manager does.