What to do when you become a partner

I have had the privilege of working with both highly energetic, effective and efficient "people's guy" managers and supremely incompetent and misdirected individuals. So, here is a list of things I want to remind myself to follow when I become a manager.

Edit : First published in 2015, I became a Director at KPMG Cyber Security in March (2023) and henceforth changed the title. However, the musings and lessons learnt should be still relevant.

As usual, this is always a WIP and will evolve as per the lessons I learn and things I observe. Enjoy.

  1. Don't be a condescending ass.
  2. Don't be a condescending ass. (It's so important that I wanted to repeat it!)
  3. Give respect to those who are working with you. Especially, who are working with you.
  4. Stand for your employees & work with them shoulder to shoulder. 
  5. Say thanks, it is going to take 2 minutes, but is going to mean a world for someone. 
  6. Be humble.
  7. Plan well.
  8. Assume nothing.
  9. Be very clear on your requirements.
  10. Integrity above everything.
  11. Undercommit, Overdeliver, Charge Premium. 
  12. If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid. 
  13. Book a 30 minute meet, always finish in 15.
  14. It's okay if you don't understand a subject, far better if you admit it freely. Avoid consultant speak and hyperbole. You are better than this.
  15. Your computer will fail as soon as you start a client presentation. Always have backups.
  16. Admit mistakes when you are wrong as soon as possible (read:immediately).
  17. Anger solves nothing. Use aggression only when absolutely necessary. I have seen manager's who never lost their cool even in the face of armageddon (mad props to Kedar and Urmi!).
  18. Always remember : superiority complex destroys peer respect and stems disrespect for you in your subordinates/ resources (I hate these words).
  19. Five second fuses always burn three seconds. 
  20. If you don't have a career path for someone who is reporting to you, help them out in finding their creed, even if it is out of the current organization.
  21. Action trumps vision, Vision trumps capabilities, Capabilities trump solutions, solutions trump tools.
  22. Sidenote:  Never forget that your weapon (read: tools, solutions and capabilities) was made by the lowest bidder.
  23. A one trick pony can only do one trick.
  24. Always remember, even if people come and go, even if the business will go on, the world indeed is very small.
  25. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire. Get your reviews done in time, rigorously.
  26. Don't push your team so much that they are not having time for their family and friends. Read point 6.
  27. Keep an open mind and welcome new ideas.
  28. Know Thy Art.
  29. Know your roots.
  30. Assume compromise, always assume that the competition knows everything. Prepare accordingly.
  31. Don't talk for the sake of talking.
  32. Don't make decisions from 50000 feet. Understand ground realities.
  33. Corollary to point 19, if you don't comprehend ground realities, get some one who does and then make decisions. Rash decision making jeopardizes engagements and erodes trust (client & employee trust in leadership).
  34. Resolve conflicts,don't fuel them by being the person on points 1 and 2.
  35. As a corollary to point 16, resolve conflicts as soon as possible.
  36. Pay attention to your team. Have good eyes and good ears.
  37. Communicate verbally and face to face. Voice is a much much better medium for communication than emails. If you are using too many emails to address your concerns / command your team, then rethink your strategy.
  38. Be Punctual. Respect the time of your teammates. 
  39. Simplify things. 
  40. Mind your own business
  41. Your clients are humans too, understand what makes them tick. Sometimes, you are going to find unexpected friends in them.
  42. Take your team out and mingle with them. You are *actually* going to spend the better half of your life with them.
  43. Plan realistic deadlines and expectations.Nothing is more infuriating and annoying than to expect something that defies the laws of logic, reason and compromises on the quality of deliverable(s).
  44. Value the work of your team. If you ignore their contribution(s), they will ignore you all together.
  45. Don't spoil weekends of your team. If unavoidable, ensure they are being rewarded/ compensated accordingly.
  46. Don't make your team feel their deliverable(s) are a "Thankless job".
  47. Your team is too smart to see through the thin veil of divide and rule policy. Don't do it.
  48. Lead by Example. If you can't do a task in the first place given the situation and allotted time, don't expect your team to do it in first place. Put them in your shoes, keep points 1,2,6 and 23 in mind.
  49. If there is one thing I absolutely hate, is addressing "Track changes" and "comments" in the reports. That's bad management overall and reeks of incompetence and lack of communication. Also, you automatically become the flaming avatar of point 1 and 2 if you do it. It adds one more one more loop to the already tedious, time challenged and hopelessly broken process of office review everywhere. Reconnect with your team and get on the same page instead of using "Track Changes" and "comments". On a personal note, I really think there is a special place in hell for people who use this.
  50. Don't take your team for granted.
  51. Pay peanuts, get monkeys. 
  52. As a corollary to point 39, know your market worth.
  53. Micromanagement destroys trust, don't do it.
  54. Be the parent your parents were, even if they were super busy, they were always there for you. If your job is taking more than its fair share of your time, rethink your work strategy.  
  55. Support your Team's initiatives, don't let them dangling.
  56. Yes, it's about budgets, optimizations and money. But always remember, you are in this together with your team. If you feel the heat, be very transparent, polite and forthcoming.
  57. Firms rest on the laurels of their employees, respect them. Trust, respect and integrity are ephemeral attributes if the employees who these practice leave the firm. 
  58. Always remember, we are all clothed monkeys living on a pale blue dot. Never let ego drive your actions.
  59. Corollary to point 56 : If all else fails with someone (client/ peer/ boss/ et al) laugh it off. Keep this thing in mind that for a monkey, whatever the other side did was very clever.
  60. Always have a plan B. And C. And so on.
  61. Always have an exit plan.


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