Managing self

Articles and posts about managing personal productivity and career advancement

When your boss overloads you, blame yourself

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Communication, Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 1 comment

At work, do you ever feel like one of those circus performers spinning plates on the top of poles? With a dozen different projects going at once, you spend your time frantically running from one to another, attending to each just enough to keep them all spinning. You’re exhausted from the relentless pace but know that the best you’re going to do is avoid the crashing disaster of letting them drop. And it feels like none of the projects will ever end. You’re caught up in what’s commonly known as thrashing, spending a disproportionate amount of your time switching...

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You can’t wear the manager and the developer hats at the same time

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing projects, Managing self, Managing teams | 0 comments

Here’s something that never works out well: A small project comes along, one that doesn’t necessarily need a full-time project manager. So it’s decided that one of the developers on the project can double as the project manager. After all, who better understands what needs to be done than the developer? That’s true, and many developers do make good project managers. There’s no inherent conflict between the type of person who makes a good developer and one who makes a good project manager. They’re both detail-oriented and results-driven. But it’s simply not possible to be a...

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The most important career question you’ve never even considered

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

As a reflective practitioner of the technical arts, you’ve likely pondered a lot of questions about the career you want to pursue, including these: What technical discipline should I focus on? Which degrees or certifications should I get? Should I stay technical or become a manager? But here’s one question so fundamental that it rarely gets asked: Do I want to be an asset or a liability? You’re probably wondering whether you should take me seriously. No one wants to be a liability, right? But I see this as one of the most important career questions you can consider. Let me...

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The benefits of an unstructured career

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

After nearly two decades of focusing on the management side of IT, I’ve been writing code lately — and loving it. This wasn’t a deliberate, considered career move or a midlife return to the glory days; it was merely a confluence of circumstances. In the course of working on a client’s project, it became clear that this particular work needed to be done, and there was no one else around to do it, so I dove in. When I was less secure as a manager, I would have considered a return to coding a humiliating demotion. Instead, what I experienced felt more like a joyful...

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Congratulations, you’re your own skills manager

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

This year’s Computerworld reader survey on careers topics indicates that we in IT have turned a corner. And, overall, the new direction is good. With nearly two-thirds of the respondents reporting that they paid for training out of their own pockets, we see that IT has accepted, at least to some degree, the new nature of employment relationships. There are a few conclusions to be drawn here. First, we have given up relying on our employers to see to it that we develop our talents and skills. It has become abundantly clear over the past decade that there is little difference between...

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For geeks, avoiding blame is a silent career killer

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

There’s a silent killer attacking the careers of technical people. It runs rampant through organizations, destroying the future job prospects of even the most talented geeks. They end up sidelined, passed over for promotions or laid off. Sadly, this killer can lead us to engage in some self-destructive, dysfunctional behaviors. I’m talking about geeks’ all-too-common compulsion to avoid being blamed for anything. (And if the thought “I would never do that” just passed through your mind, you are doing it without even being aware of it.) Nearly every geek has...

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Nobody wants you to be a technology vending machine

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

“Everyone” knows that to earn the trust of a new client or your boss, you need to provide a quick-win deliverable. The assumption is that fast response to a request demonstrates your competence and earns trust. But we geeks get a bit carried away with this rule. It’s our way, after all, to embrace rules while ignoring the complexity of real relationships. In my experience, the quick-win theory leads to disaster as often as success. This is because the theory is built on two assumptions, one true, the other only half true at best. Assumption No. 1: Clients/bosses remain...

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