CXO

10 requirements of the perfect manager

If you could hire your next boss, what selection criteria would you use? Alan Norton shares a make-believe want ad aimed at finding the ideal manager.

Haven't you wished at least once that you could hire your next boss? You might win the lottery, buy the company, and do just that. But chances are if that happened, you would be out the door in less time than it took to pick the numbers.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that I don't have to win the lottery for my daydreams to become reality. In the land of Norxodd, my team and I get to create the ad copy for hiring our next manager, review the list of candidates, interview the final choices, and select the best person for the job. Here are the requirements I have selected for the perfect manager, in "help wanted" format.


1: Be a "people person"

Norxodd is people and we are looking for managers who like people. You should be comfortable with conflict resolution. You should know how people work and know how to motivate your team. If you are better with computers than people and understand Klingon better than English, you are not a good fit for our managerial team. We may, however, have an opening in our Communications Services Center and suggest you send us your resume/CV via email with the words "CSC MAIL ROOM" in the subject line. A good sense of humor is also a must-have attribute.

2: Be visionary

Can you see the future? We need managers who can identify the next product or service that will be in demand and bring it to life. You should be goal oriented and effectively use your resources to "create the unusual." If your definition of "visionary" is the ability to see out a large picture window in a corner office, you would be wise to envision your career with another company.

3: Be a good communicator

You should be able to communicate effectively using all methods, including visual presentations, public speaking, email, teleconferencing, and face-to-face. Good communication is a two-way street. You will be required to routinely update your employees on their and the team's performance. You will communicate any feedback from upper management and customers and provide status information when asked. Employees will provide feedback via a process called "Rate your boss," which will enable managers to improve their performance.

All information at Norxodd is shared equally among all employees. Except for private personnel information, we have no secrets between loyal Norxodd team members. Good communication does not include shouting, cursing, throwing a fit, threatening, or any other form of physical or verbal abuse. In answer to recent questions received at our Communications Services Center, we do not use Pneumatic Tube Transport for internal communication.

4: Be technically proficient

The products we create at Norxodd are technically complicated. You don't' need to be able to code in C#, but you should be able to give technical guidance and decide the best strategies and methods for success. And no, having watched Happy Feet or the March of the Penguins does not qualify you as technically proficient in Linux.

5: Put your employees' needs first

We need managers with a selfless attitude who are willing to fall on their sword (figuratively not literally) to meet the needs of their staff. Climbing the corporate ladder should come second to the needs of those working in the weeds. Our philosophy here at Norxodd is that our managers succeed best by satisfying the needs of their team. For example, you will be required to provide the tools your team needs. Each quarter, you will be given a bonus to distribute as you wish. "Selflessness" means giving those funds to your top performers and not using them for a round of golf with the secretary.

6: Encourage teamwork

Teamwork is important at Norxodd. Not only are you required to encourage the best practices for building teamwork, you are considered a part of the team. We have no doors at Norxodd for you to hide behind. In fact, we have no traditional office space for managers — you are required to sit and work with your staff. You will be assisted by a secretary who will provide secretarial services to all team members, not just to you. Just for the record, we do have doors on all conference rooms and bathrooms, but using either as a permanent office is considered "unacceptable behavior."

7: Lead by example

The best managers lead by example at Norxodd. All managers are required to dress and act professionally at all times and to be available to give guidance and help when needed. Leading by example means working late and on weekends with your employees, parking with your employees, and using the same washroom as your employees. It's all about doing instead of pontificating — and doing the right thing. We consider leading your team off a cliff the wrong thing — misguided lemmings need not apply.

8: Treat your staff like professionals

You should have the confidence in your team's proficiency to decide most issues by themselves with only your guidance, as required. We treat every employee as a professional who doesn't need immediate supervision. You will be looking over your workload and not over your employees' shoulders. And isn't that a comforting thought.

9: Encourage professional growth

All managers are expected to grow their skills and those of their team members. One of our mottos here at Norxodd is "Be more than you are." No, that motto is not displayed outside the company cafeteria. Another of our mottos that encourages professional growth is "Keep moving forward" — and it is proudly displayed in the cafeteria and on the dashboard of all company vehicles.

10: Do something special

Satisfying all the above criteria is not enough. You are also required to do something special for your employees that:

  • Will be remembered fondly decades from now.
  • Can be shared by the entire group.
  • Won't break the budget.

At Norxodd, we believe that life is too short not to have a little bit of fun along the way. Most of our lives are spent sleeping, followed next by time spent working. We therefore require our managers to create an atmosphere of fun (in the workplace that is, not in bed). A good manager is also in the memory creation business. In the big scheme of things, a manager who doesn't create happy memories is a failure in the game of life.


The bottom line

Looking for the perfect boss can be fun. Of course, I expect you to "ad" to the fun by including your job requirements.

A word of caution: At one company, my team and I had the privilege of interviewing the applicants who wanted to be our next supervisor. I emphasized that I expected our supervisor to be available to help in any way he or she could to meet our team's objectives. Somehow, that requirement was lost after the hire. I attribute this to the swelling of the head and the pressure on the prefrontal cortex that often results from landing a managerial position. I've solved that problem. In the land of Norxodd, my team and I have the power to fire.

About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

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