Technical Competency

Four Keys to Managing Outside of Your Area of Technical Competence

When we ask newly promoted, first-time supervisors why they got their supervisory job, they almost always say it was because they were really good at getting technical results in their last job.  In other words, they became supervisors because they were very technically competent.

But what happens when people progress in management and find themselves managing people who are much more technically competent than they are?  What if they are totally out of their area of technical competence?  How do they manage under these conditions?  Do they admit their lack of technical competence or “fake it until they make it”?

Has this happened to you?  Is it possible that it might happen at some point in your career?  To help you answer these questions, we offer you four keys to success when managing outside of your area of technical competence.

  1. Honestly evaluate your competencies.  We can’t all know everything so an honest evaluation of your competencies will help you identify where you either need help from others or where you need to seek education for yourself.  I can honestly say that I am not competent when it comes to development of websites or just about anything IT.   I also know that my time is much better spent not taking a lot of time attempting to become proficient in this area.  I have made the decision to delegate this area to someone else; someone with a lot more competence than I have, which leads to Key #2.
  2. Seek the support of those who are competent.  You can’t “fake it” for long and when you are discovered your credibility and influence will most likely be reduced.   There is no shame in admitting that you don’t know how to do something or how to do it well.  Look for those on your team who have the competency or competencies needed and delegate to them, while at the same time attempting to gain an appropriate level of competence for yourself.  I know there are some computer programs that I need the ability to navigate and use in my daily activities.  For these I have taken the time to gain proficiency.  Everything else IT is delegated with delight!
  3. Show thanks for the support of others.  People need to feel appreciated and showing thanks for the competencies of others on your team is important to the development of respect and relationship.  Make sure you thank those who help you gain competencies or who take away the need for you to do so by handling it themselves.  This is exactly what I have done with many of my IT needs and I always try to remember to show gratitude to those who take on this role.
  4. Use ‘Best Boss’ skills to manage.  Use the same skills that thousands of our students have consistently identified over the last 20 years when asked to describe the best boss they ever had.  Your employees will likely give you the benefit of the doubt while you seek to grow in technical competence, if they have already experienced the benefits of your non-technical competence.  To help you with this, we will continue throughout 2012 to use The RAD Group Newsletter to explore the Top 20 Characteristics of a ‘Best Boss‘.  To refresh your memory, revisit the ‘Best Boss’ Newsletter Archive and keep an eye on your email inbox for future editions.

No boss can know everything.  ‘Best Bosses’ know that their primary responsibility is not to be competent in all of the technical aspects under their control, but rather to surround themselves with competent people and treat them with respect.