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[Contribute to an infographic] What are your expectations of your functional line manager?

In many recent surveys, like this one from Gallup, manager burnout is higher than for those they manage. It may be that work-life balance and emotional well-being appear to worse for managers than individual contributors.

This made me wonder what expectations people have for managers. I know it's different for every team, which is why I'm hoping folks will weigh in with how much they they think manager responsibilities matter even if they already see their perspective mentioned in a comment. So...

1. Can you name the things you think your manager should be responsible for?

2. Can you either list those responsibilities in order of importance or in order of time invested?

8 comments

In my experience, I think teams expect a lot of different things from their managers but only so much is actually able to be addressed. Here's what I expect of my managers in recent years:

More time investment

  • Direction on work priorities: a stack ranking or sometimes re-ordering of my priorities
  • Feedback on my work: whether it meets expectations and how it might be able to improve
  • Cross-company connections: with a different or sometimes larger vantage point, regular suggestions on who I might want to connect with or an initiative that could overlap with something I'm working on

Less time investment

  • Environmental support: facilitation of good working conditions (e.g. pre-reads so that my introverted personality doesn't have something to react to on the spot, advocacy for my work in meetings that could use extra support).
  • Administrative housekeeping: all the things that require paper approval (e.g. extended time off requests, expense reimbursements)

When I was younger, I had a few more things on this list, but I no longer think it's practical for every manager to be able to do them. Examples below.

  • Mentorship: skill development in my functional area of expertise
  • Problem-solving: removing blockers within their purview (e.g. changing distribution of work priorities) is one thing but finding solutions for everything I'm stuck on seems unreasonable
Like # people like this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Apr 01, 2022

For Mentorship, I still think it might be important for mentoring the soft skills or the leadership as the manager might be a fantastic role model for that.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

For sure. Anyone with people responsibilities are people I think should be aware that they be a role model for others.

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Feb 17, 2022

Super interesting topic @Christine P_ Dela Rosa!

I think your role and where you sit in the company may play a large part one what you perceive and your actual needs from your manager.

Personally, I'm the Atlassian Admin for all of our R&D teams, and I regularly interface with the Atlassian Admins within our IT teams.  The idea of needing cross-company connections is non-existent for me.  I'm usually the guy that people are told to reach out to when they need assistance and I naturally form those connections as a part of my job.

In addition, direction on work priorities for me, would be a "less time investment".  90% of my work is change requests from users that have been vetted by a committee and stack ranked and prioritized, while my manager is part of that committee he isn't the only one.

On the flip side, I find that I do need my manager to help with removing roadblocks.  In my case roadblock usually involve my manager having conversations with the manager of another team to talk about team priorities as when I'm blocked it's because I need to wait on work being completed by other teams.

I agree with you on the administrative house-keeping.  That is just something that needs to happen.

Finally, I still believe that mentorship happens in some capacity (whether you recognize it or not).  I'm at a point in my career where I am the technical subject matter expert on all things Atlassian at my company.  I have also been doing this long enough that I understand how to balance my work, set expectations with users/customers and properly communicate about risks and changes.  However, I'm not looking to grow into more of a leadership role myself and my manager has been amazing about giving me opportunities and direction on how to be successful.

This was enjoyable, thank you!

Like # people like this

Interesting to see how some of the concepts that I find a must-have are non-existent for your expectations. I really appreciate the extra context to help me understand where the differences lie, @Jimmy Seddon !

1. Can you name the things you think your manager should be responsible for?

  • Expectation Management - working with the client and working with the team to manage their expectations on product delivery, product composition, team work, etc.
  • Removing barriers - facilitate the removal of barriers for the team 
  • Team health - ensuring we work well together and manage conflict resolution
  • Performance Evaluation - feedback to the team members on their performance of duties and career enhancement
  • Administrative responsibilities - time cards, pto requests, etc.

2. Can you either list those responsibilities in order of importance or in order of time invested?

I have listed these in the order of importance that I believe they belong.

Like # people like this

Ooh, interesting. @Marjorie quick question on your first and highest priority responsibility bullet. Does your manager set expectations with clients and team members or do they more support the expectations you've set?

The program manager works with the client and the team, she sets expectations at the kickoff of the program and during Monthly and Bi-weekly meetings.

As the project manager, At project kickoff, I usually reiterate the expectations from the program manager that she set at kickoff of the program. 

Expectation management is important in what I do because I produce a software product. I want to make sure the client understands what they are getting, how they make changes, how the team works.  

For the team, I want to make sure they understand the processes and procedures. 

Hope that clarifies it!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Feb 17, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa There is so much to learn from such discussions, and I am looking forward to the infographic that I can refer to as a guidance whenever I need to determine who should be responsible for a particular task: my manager or I.

For me, I work as an individual contributor or SME in Atlassian tools since last 1 year or so and my manager is not much aware of my field of expertise and is only concerned if projects assigned to me are delivered on time and as per client expectations.

Mostly, I work directly with the client side IT or Operations team managers to understand the scope of work and requirements and based on my expertise, I am very well able to set up their expectations on all things technical and drive the stages of technical delivery and implementation.

Personally, I do not like the non-technical management aspects of the projects and always expect my manager to handle those with the clients, which some of my managers in the past could do and some could not.  But there are some non-technical management or project delivery issues that come up while working with some tough clients or complex projects that I believe should always be handled by my manager, so that I can focus more on technical delivery work.

Apart from this, all other general expectations from managers have been already covered by you and other community members involved in this discussion.

Like # people like this

I like seeing that you your expertise in more technical and your manager's expertise may be non-technical management. So it's more of a compliment (vs a redundancy where both of you having to be knowledgeable in each other's expertise).

1. Can you name the things you think your manager should be responsible for?

  • Mentorship
  • Escalations for things I'm struggling with or need extra support for
  • Transparency

2. Can you either list those responsibilities in order of importance or in order of time invested?

  1. Mentorship
  2. Escalations
  3. Transparency

My current leader is not able to be hands on from a technical perspective but I am fine with that. I am the technical expert for my own team. The training I need most from my own leader is on the leadership side of things. How to be a better leader, how to be the right kind of leader. Escalations happen occasionally when I feel like I need the extra support or need her influence with a situation that warrants it. We all want transparency with our jobs and our companies. That starts with our direct leaders. If they are not transparent with us, we cannot expect it from anyone else.

Like # people like this

Got it, so I'm hearing a lean-in on the areas where you seek the help (e.g. leadership, escalations).

Like Josh Costella likes this

So it sounds like depending on the function, there are lots of different takes on whether responsibilities are important. Based on just what I've heard on this thread, I created a faux word cloud (where the bigger the text, the more I heard it was important to this group).

Let me know what you think!

Manager expectations.png

Like # people like this
Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Feb 28, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa This is an amazing infographic! Very useful for guiding oneself on what all should one expect from their manager in general and determining which are the most important manager responsibilities out of them on individual basis.

Like # people like this

I like the infographic pretty much too, @Christine P_ Dela Rosa! Although it is covered partially by some other mentions on it, something I would like to add as well is delegating responsibility.

By that I don't mean throwing assignments over the wall, but creating a culture of trust and shared understanding, where we agree on what needs to be solved and providing the space and handles we need to make the appropriate decisions.

I think of the manager as the one to go to when decisions require approval, resources or means that must be (re)allocated from somewhere else.  

Like # people like this

Yes I see the distinction even though delegating responsibilities feels similar to setting expectations or providing direction. So, good point! Take a look at this revision, @Walter Buggenhout _ACA IT_ !

Manager expectations.001.png

Like Darryl Lee likes this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Apr 01, 2022

Love this!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Apr 01, 2022

To me, I would expect my manager to:

1. Continuously montior the morale and health of the team.

2. Setting up the constant pace of 1-1 meeting with us.

3. Building up an easy way for us to send out request or raise topics to discuss.

4. Be supportive for the teammates and listening to the needs.

5. Help us for communications.

6. Mentoring us.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

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