Managing self

Articles and posts about managing personal productivity and career advancement

Being right vs. not being wrong

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

We geeks have a reputation that we neither want nor entirely deserve. To a lot of people, it seems as if we always have to be right — to prove that, no matter the circumstance, we know best. I believe that’s a false impression, but it’s easy to see how it came to be. Some of the most common complaints about technical people are that they interrupt with condescending corrections, become impatient when they have to explain things, qualify every statement so that it is precisely correct and dismiss unsupported opinions as invalid. If you aren’t steeped in the psychology...

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Build relationships, and career opportunities will follow

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Computerworld Columns, Managing self | 0 comments

Your future success in the IT industry depends on embracing one simple, but hard-to-accept idea: There are no more jobs. I don’t mean that there’s no more work to do. Of course there is. Nor do I mean that you won’t get hired to do things. Of course you will. What I mean is that in nearly every way that counts, we are all contractors now. The only difference between being an employee and being a contractor is the benefits. The critical features that we think of as part of the employment relationship can’t be relied on: security, career path, skill development and so...

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Want to own the future? Build rich relationships

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 in Computerworld Columns, Jobs & employment, Managing self | 0 comments

For more than 20 years, I’ve been hearing complaints, concerns and panicked hysteria about the end of the IT career as we know it. Just below the surface, we all seem to think that we’re about to get the ax. And that’s because we persistently misunderstand what our business partners want most from us. We think they just need the best technician, but they don’t. What they need most, now and in the future, are technical people who can communicate and collaborate with nontechnical people. Regardless of their specialty, individuals who can work across the cultural divide...

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Three New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Managing self | 0 comments

Those of you who are regular readers of this column probably already know that I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. They set people up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations that only lead to disappointment and depression. But I am an advocate of managerial reflection, of taking a little time on a regular basis to think carefully about your role and how you fill it. So this year, I’d like to suggest a different approach to your New Year’s reflection. Instead of thinking about all the goals you want to achieve and things you want to do over the next...

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The scourge of personal exceptionalism

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Managing self | 0 comments

With fair regularity, someone will ask me, “What is the single most important thing for a leader to do to be successful?” In other words, “What’s the secret to good management?” Of course, there’s no good answer. There are many paths to management success, and, sadly, none of them is particularly well trodden. But for every path to success, there seem to be at least 10 highways to failure, and traffic is always jammed on those. There’s no shortage of bad management and leadership out there. Dilbert is funny for good reason: Most of our bosses are,...

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What geeking-out will get you

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Managing self | 0 comments

At one time or another, most technical managers long to do technical work. For most of us, hands-on production dominated our early careers, and just as a yearning for youth reached out to me, technical work sends out a siren’s call to managers. But heeding the call of technical work endangers the careers of managers and the health of their projects. Why is this desire so common? I’ve got a few theories: A yearning to relive your glory days. Management generally doesn’t offer the same thrill of many early career successes. It’s hard to get the sense of accomplishment...

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The MBA Infatuation

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Managing self | 0 comments

What’s An MBA Good For — Really? It seems that I get more questions about the MBA degree than any other career development topic. It appears to hold a uniquely prominent space in the minds of ambitious managers and would-be managers among the IT ranks. But the questions are usually of a rather black-and-white nature: Should I get one? Will it be good for my career? Will it be worth the money? Is it worth the time away from the workplace to do it full time? Are part-time MBA programs too hard to do while working full time? Is it worth going back for an executive MBA once I’m...

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