A Tribute to My Manager

janlategahn.jpgI have been under many managers in my IT career which spans over 11 years. They come in all shapes and sizes. But one manager stands out and this is a tribute to him.

My manager’s name is Jan Lategahn. He was my manager for one year in an IT project. But it was one of the most productive years of my life. He was different from all my previous managers because of the following qualities which I will enumerate below.

My manager inspires his subordinates. A manager who does not know how to do the work of his subordinates will find it hard to inspire. The metaphor that usually comes to my mind is that of a Shogun; the most skillful swordsman in his territory. Everybody treats him with respect. The same is true for a manager who is the best programmer in his team.

My manager is an expert programmer. He is an expert in SAP and UNIX. Being a programmer he knows that programming is a creative process and sometimes it is just difficult to predict when you can finish a piece of code. He doesn’t give unrealistic deadlines but if the deadline can’t be moved, he knows how to adjust the scope or to give you all the help you need to succeed.

Once my manager went on a vacation and I was so swamped with work. When he returned to work and found me working till 12 midnight that week he was so kind enough to offer his assistance. I was surprised when he approached my desk and asked me “what can I do to help you?” I asked him to install the server in the uat environment which he did in just two hours. After that he returned and asked for more tasks. I’ve never had any other manager ask me for tasks (which is not surprising; they don’t know how to do it).

When I went to Singapore for my vacation I brought my laptop just to make sure I can do support when extremely needed. I was expecting my manager to call me anytime and ruin my vacation. But instead I got a text message telling me about places I can go and enjoy in Singapore. After that he let me alone in my vacation until I returned to work. Later on he told me he had a rough time during those days and that he must have aged six years when I was as away. I really appreciate what he did and feel so lucky he can do without me.

My manager is not afraid to show his humanity. He is not afraid to show to his subordinates that he sometimes feels tired; that he dislikes unproductive meetings and chatterboxes. He would rather code something than waste his time in meetings. Other managers look like supermen who don’t seem to feel tired and never complain. My manager gives us an example that it’s okay to be human.

Once we had a visit wih the big bosses from onshore. And we had to behave the whole week because they were sitting near our cubicles. On the last day when the big bosses finally left, my manager was not ashamed to show a sigh of relief and say “it was very hard to breathe with them around” or so along those lines. We were laughing, but I really appreciated that reaction. It showed me that my boss is also human and whatever ordinary things we feel, he feels it too.

My manager has a great personality. He always greets people when he arrives in the morning and always finds time to do a quick chat about anything under the sun. I have learned so much from him about electronics, WI-FI hacking, etc.; things not directly related to work. In fact when he’s absent from work due to some illness, I find the team spirit not so happy. He brings life to the team. In my previous work we feel elated when our managers are not around, in my manager’s case the opposite is true. I even have to send a text message to him to ask how he is doing.

And most of all, my manager is a friend to his men. Other manager’s talk about open door policy but always maintain the distance from their subordinates. Not so with my manager. I can always speak my thoughts to him without reservation because he has become a friend.

To my manager, mentor and friend, I wish you only the best in life!