Development: It’s All about Management Skills

I still remember the first time I had to fire an employee. I was only an assistant manager at a software store, but at the time my manager was running two stores, leaving me responsible for most of the operations. Previously I had helped a friend out by recommending him for the job, and he did great at first. But after a few months his attendance became erratic and even when he did show up he was often late. The day I finally had to sit down with him and tell him he’d lost the job was hard, but as the one in charge I bit the bullet and let him go.

Managing a project is about maintaining an efficient system that meets deadlines as well as stays within budget. When you’re in the United States it requires hard work to pull that off, when you’re in a developing country it’s almost impossible. Currently we’re having problems with the one of our managers who is both unorganized and unable to manage laborers. A clearing project we were working on ended up costing almost double what it should have because of both mismanagement and possibly some theft.

I’ve now helped to implement a new, organized system for tracking the day laborers, and we’ve realized that the only way to avoid problems is to pay them daily. This makes sense to me, as it’s how Mexican day laborers work in the US. But here, managers work them for multiple days, and multiple tasks each day. Then when it comes time to pay, there is problem after problem, and all of the documentation is so cryptic that it’s virtually impossible to refute any of the complaints. That cryptic disorganization also allows room for managers to collude with workers to get extra pay for work already paid for: This is something I suspected as soon as I began examining the financial records. What the manager didn’t expect was that I would be able to figure out his system quickly and adapt a new one which would negate wiggle room.

Now, one other issue is learning when to micromanage and when not to. If you have the right people who you can trust, then you can put a system in place and let them get to work on their own. Then you only need to verify work completed and documentation. But when a system is broken or has fallen apart, then it’s time for the Development Project Manager to step in and take the extra time to fix it and get it working, or find new people to take over the lower management roles.

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