The short answer is that I don't entirely agree with you. If you can read past these first two lines, here is why:
1. Managers are not Gods and cannot predict how the market will pan out on a daily basis. If they could, we would all have secure jobs. The complexities are formidable and even the most brilliant minds in history have not been able to make accurate predictions. Just think about it from a top management prospective - you are trying to steer the company in a new dirction so that it can make more money and become more efficient. Notice the key word NEW. How many times have written a program that works 100% properly on the first run? Close to never, right? Now think about a top manger who has to manage the complexity of software development plus that of human behavior (teams and working together). Wow, not so easy, ha?
2. If you want to be a manager, then become one. There is a huge demand for capable managers because, as you aptly pointed out, many of them are mediocre (see the reference to Harvard Business Review below and by all means, find and read the article). But you have to actively pursue this career. Don't just sit back and expect for management to promote you for the excellent technical work you've of done. Do you know how they view us? - as QT: soft-spoken IT people :UNQT. I was working for a small start-up in San Francisco when I heard the CFO say that. It
rattled my cage, but 5 min afterward I was very grateful to have heard these words. Now I know how they think and I came up with strategy to present my projects in way that gets them approved 9 times out of 10. All, these guys see is numbers. So I gave them some nice, reasonable number to into.
So promote yourself!!! There is nothing wrong about that if you deserve it. Otherwise you will remain in your cubicle and see how mediocre managers claim respect for themselves for the excellent work YOU'VE done.
Since you are you are an American, read about your first few presidents. If memory serves me right, it was Thomas Jefferson who said that not only you need to work hard but also you have to make sure that others see you busy all the time. He was carrying some heavy stuff for his shop every day using a wheel barrel. And guess what, he made sure tha wheel screeched as hell so that everyone on the street could hear and ultimately see he was busy at work. Well, the sound was a bit unpleasant, but hey, there are no free lunches.
3. It looks like you haven't had an exposure to good management. I'd like to assure you, there are good managers. Find some in-the-flesh examples and let them know you would like to be mentored in the trade. There is always one who will say "yes".
4. You probably think management is not creative ennough. That's bacase managers are often lead to believe it isn't - after all management books always say management is a practice, a collection of guidelines or frameworks that you follow. Don't fall in that trap. There are always creative ways to hack into people's brains and make them perform well. Trust me, that's very difficult but everything that is worth doing is.
Now on your logic:
No doubt, the management function is an important one. No doubt, mediocre people often get it. No doubt, many mediocre IT professionals will continue to be promoted to management. But WHY?
Firstly, because the people who make the hiring decisions or decisions to promote someone to a management role often don't know what to look for ina candidate. So they go for the "people skills" - a charming smile, the ability to throw punch lines at the right time, the plausible expression of concern for the well-being company (not so hard to express when you remind yourself that they write your paychecks), or the shining resime (in most cases only half true). When in fact they should look for business intelligence: the ability to perform tasks, the ability to work and achieve through others, the ability for critical introspection (I know you like this one - KNOW THYSELF!!!) For more information see Harvard Business Review and look for the article "Hiring for Smarts", here are the details.
Nov 1, 2005
Availability: In Stock
Type: Harvard Business Review Article
Product Number: R0511F
Secondly, because they don't know exactly what the person should be doing once hired. So they hire a general purpose guy, mediocre as you say. Why, because he has a little knowledge here and a little knowledge there, so may be staggering but still walking. You are right that's not good enough, but remember: people drink the sand, and not the water, not because they are thirsty, but because they don't know the difference. If the management of your company has the reatione you described, man you better quit. That company is not going to walk very far with mediocre managers.
Here is some background on me, if you are interested:
I have 4 years of experience as a system admin in an ISP, 2 years of web development , and 3 months as a Junior IT manager.
My Masters is in Computer Information Systems (CIS). I also have a Bachelor in CS and a Bachelor in International Economic Relations.
I am Bulgarian by birth but spent 7.5 years in the US - 7 in Boston MA, and 6 months in California. Now I work for the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on a two-year contract. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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