According to Patrick Mullane, the executive director of Harvard Business School’s online learning initiative HBX, there are certain management principles and beliefs which are actually myths. He explains for CNBC Make It these five surprising management myths which also apply in engineering:
Myth No. 1: Managers spend most of their time on long-term planning
It’s not about thinking big and strategizing, but more on putting out small successes and executing tasks that matters more, which should be done by managers to meet goals and make ends meet. This is achieved through informal meetings and conversations on a daily basis.
But Mullane said that because constantly executing can be stressful – this is true for engineering managers – it is worth noting to strategize once in a while.
Myth No. 2: Management involves telling people what to do
Influence over orders. That’s what management is about if you ask Mullane.
This is why managers should be able to inspire their subordinates and let them think of ways on their own, instead of barking orders. But yes, expecting them to follow orders is imperative, it’s just that the power of influence is much, much stronger.
Myth No. 3: Management is orderly and predictable
Nope, management is actually messy. For Mullane, it is like a bowl of pasta filled with “loop-backs and unexpected twists and turns.”
Especially in engineering where plans are not always followed as per plan, managers are bound to follow non-linear paths in projects. There is a step-by-step process; however, they are imperfect, requiring adjustments along the way.
Myth No. 4: Good managers can meet goals even with a bad team
Mullane said that the right people in the right place with the right focus should be given attention when hiring, because settling for a bad team can have serious effects when it comes to supervision and achieving goals.
Even great managers “cannot work miracles if the team members don’t fit the mission, strategy and culture of the organization,” he said.
Myth No. 5: Managers should always build consensus
This is not necessary because bosses can sometimes have a difference in opinion with others that do not align with the majority but is necessary.
“While it’s alright, in fact it’s critical, to collect diverging opinions,” shared Mullane, “at some point, somebody has to decide.”