Well this topic I have been thinking about a lot in the recent past so I decided let me start by writing something and than enhance/improve it as we go along.
First there a lot of cases where people who are non technical end up managing people who are ....now this can be quite a difficult situation for both the people, invariably leading the technical guys to make fun of the manager in terms of "he just doesn't get it, even such basic stuff" and we have the manager thinking "how can these people work like this ...they are so disorganized etc etc etc (Am a technical guy so am unable to think of too many thing no techies think :) )".
Well I think there is a way out, and this situation instead of turning the team/unit environment into a dead state, by both the sides taking some positive steps can be leveraged into a thriving environment.
What are these steps?
1. The manager should have no problem admitting to the team, that he is not the most technically qualified for the job
. Techies are logically, they will understand if this guy is clear that he doesn't know the stuff technically and still is managing us he must be bring some other stuff to the table....dont boast about the other stuff ...implement it and show it to them. They will be impressed.
2. When you get something wrong admit it...admit it immdly
, there is no shame...you dont need to be the smartest person in the room to manage a team/be a leader...infact to quote JW in winning you should be comfortable being the dumbest person in the room , asking questions like a 4 year old....(Danzel Washington..Philadelphia)
3. Have a game plan,
well this is true for most things but particularly in this case put together a plan for each day/week/month.
4. Get invited to the old boys club
, that is there is always a group of guys who are very sound in that particular technology/product etc, join them , for sure you will have something to offer them and when time need to be you can lean on them for help. Never Eat Alone will defn help here.
5. Be Logical
...sounds simple enough right ...wrong...sometimes when the "geeks" are having a problem dont shy away from the situation thinking there is nothing that you can help them with...jump in sit in first listen then try to organize the points...help them brainstorm...Organize...bring in your skills....and contribute...the answer has to be logical....ask the right questions.
...its important to participate, in as many endeavor as possible this not only increases your knowledge, but builds the teams confidence in you.
...Allocate a good portion of your time reading up on relevant stuff.. It is important.
(This is the first draft of the list ...will refine it further/ make enhancements to it over a period of time)
Update: My co-author over at the CIO-Weblog has an post up along similar lines where he gets into the sales & engineering linkage. Read on