Situation: A CEO is concerned that her #2 is being challenged by others in the company. An option is to hire a technical project manager; someone who carries the CEO’s authority and who can get things done. What are the obstacles to achieving this? How do you boost company morale?
Advice from the CEOs:
- The technical project manager must have a non-threatening role – they shouldn’t challenge the technical skills of the developers. The role is to oversee schedules, progress, and to resolve barriers – both technical and personal. The job is to get things back into shape.
- While the business involves highly technical software, operationally it is people centered, not software centered. People centered means a team that collaborates and supports one-another. The important questions are:
- Where do the needed people skills come from?
- How do the model and reality transition to a people centered business?
- Look for someone who can nurture talent. People skills are more important for this role than technical skills, with the caveat that individual must be able to understand technical challenges.
- An option is a 3rd party within company to straighten this out.
- “COO” Responsible for Technical Direction – title is important because it conveys respect.
- The CEO’s voice and ears.
- Run weekly meetings and is the go-to person when the CEO us traveling.
- The focus is to manage the primadonnas and keep them focused on their jobs instead of on interpersonal conflicts.
- This role focuses inwardly on company vs. the CEO who focuses outward on the broader vision, key stakeholders, etc.
- The bottom line – this is your company, your vision. Make it work. The task is teaching maturity – learning to give rather than worrying about making a name for themselves.
- Have regular lunches with each of the developers and have frank conversations with them. What’s up and what’s wrong? Listen and let them air their concerns. Talk them through these concerns, but make sure that they understand that the CEO sets the direction both for the company and the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior within the company.