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Starting A New Management Position? What To Watch Out For

Harry Joiner introduced me to Sally McKenzie writes on ECommerce Consulting, and while reading through her blog, I wandered over to Peter Kretzman, who writes CTO/CIO perspectives.

That's the power of mixing social networking with blogging.  It gave me my post for the day, and introduced me to two bright new minds on business.

Peter writes recently on what to expect when starting a new position as a CTO, and I found his comments astounding, because most of what he writes, I've done - not as the CTO, but as an employee looking for new management to correct every problem that exists.

The first problem that a CTO, or any manager should expect, and avoid, is the Messiah Complex.

     You’re suddenly the anointed savior of a situation that it seems everyone was frustrated with.  Thank God you’re here.
All the “sins of the past”, however major they are in impact, are (consensus would seem to have it) nonetheless able to be cleaned up (yes, by you), in a jiffy (say within the first three months or so, unless of course you can do it faster). Get to work.

As an employee, my expectations of the new boss were usually, Thank God we have someone here to solve our problems, or My God, The new boss is the same as the old boss.  It never occurred to me that the problem was the structure of the department, and not the managerial acumen of the new boss.

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As a recruiter, I had to become more sensitive to the breaking in period for new management.  THe overwhelming task of learning a new culture put meeting vendors on a low level of importance, so I always appreciated when they gave me some time - and tried to make it worthwhile to meet me.

Over time, that paid off, but even then, my understanding of the role was limited to my need to get open positions. 

Peter goes on to list several great bits of advice, including checking your ego at the door, not making rash decisions, and not thinking that everyone that works for you is plumb crazy.

The first trap is to assume that the situations you see (entangled systems, strange processes) are simply crazy and that people had no idea what they were doing. This is sometimes the case, but usually not. As you listen and learn, you often discover that in at least some of the examples, there’s actually a plausible and defensible reason that things were built that way. Things that appear at first glance to be crazy sometimes aren’t.

Yes, Peter, but sometimes they are crazy.  Still - it's a great article, and one both third party and corporate recruiters should read.  They might glean valuable intelligence for their next meeting with the new CTO.