H.N. Liyanage


When you’re a manager, people become projects

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For the longest time, I used to organize my todo list by projects. But over the past few years, as my responsibilities have grown and changed, I’ve noticed something interesting: peoplehave become my projects.

When you’re expected to lead a team (especially a large team), you can no longer afford to build products, or even processes. You have to build the people who build the products. It’s the only way you will scale as your scope grows larger.

Three years ago, my (hypothetical) todo list for next Monday would have looked like this:

Here’s how it would look like now:

It’s entirely people centric. Not only does it allow you to logically group interactions with people into one-on-one meetings, each such meeting doubles as a way to assist the person achieve growth in tiny increments.

And as wishy-washy as it may sound, it’s more about transferring your thinking to the other person (so that he/she will do things as well as or better than you), rather than directly instructing people, or worse yet, doing the work for him/her. It’s a little more work up front to get a reports buy-in for a task than simply telling him to do it, but later down the line, it’s a lot less work in terms of follow up and unmet expectations.

As each report becomes more autonomous, you should be able to spin him/her off as a new lead and start working on building up additional leads. For the manager who feels so overwhelmed that he wishes he could clone himself, I suspect this might be the next best thing…

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