Management Mantras

  • Push the work down as far as possible


  • Understand your staff, peers, managers, and consultants capabilities and styles

  • Break work down for scheduling and tasking


  • Task effectively

  • The buck stops here


  • Quality Assurance



This isn't what I learned.  This is a zen thing.  What I didn't believe worked about the way I was managed, I tried to change for people I managed.

I believe people assigned to me or that work with me have all appreciated my management "style".  I know they have all gone on to do well in architecture or IT.


The stumbling block to more doing this is that many people don't believe anyone can do anything, or at least as well as they can themselves.  Managers probably developed this attitude in part because when they assign work, it isn't done the way they wanted it done.  Odds are though, the manager didn't task the work out in a way that would lead to a predictable result.  GIGO.


Few people take the time to manage work appropriately.  The essential management mantra used in America, especially in mass media, which alas is where most people learn how to live and work, is DO IT!  Makes the T.V. shows and movies snappy and shorter, but otherwise leads to less than stellar results for most managers.


Push the work down as far as possible.

Why do this?


So you can manage more projects. 


The more projects you manage, the more money you get, the more impressive your portfolio becomes, the more projects you get, the more money you get.  You get the idea.


So you have time to control quality and profitability on your projects.


Good design, details, documents and money to keep doing design. 

Good things all.


So your staff will get better and you retain them longer.


The more you give staff to do, the more staff can do, the more they want to do, the more you can give them to do.  All staff want to be architects, and if you show them the yellow brick road and give them a little push, they'll start running.  You get the idea.  If you don't give them challenging and differing work, they will loose that drive, or just leave find a better job.


Breaking work down: 


Why make such a big deal about something as "simple" as breaking a projects "work" down.


  • Work breakdown become project milestones necessary for.

  • Scheduling
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Meeting profit goals
  • Staffing levels and allocation
  • Managerial review of your efforts
  • The first step in tasking out the work effectively




Learning your staff's capabilities is hardest, it takes trial and error thus time.  However, if you err on the side of over tasking, it's unlikely you can go wrong.  To shortcut the time required, I always tell staff that if I'm saying the obvious, speak up and I'll skip ahead.  People love to do so, as it lets them show off how much better they are than you're giving them credit for.


I say capabilities, the glass is half full, right?


The simplest example of learning capabilities is schedule:

If someone is bad at getting in at 9 but gets in by 9:30 and never leaves without completing all the work for the day, that's a capability, not a liability.  If someone comes in at 9:30 and leaves at 4 though, doing 1/2 their work, but their work is excellent, that CAN be a capability, if they are happy with a pay cut - THEY MIGHT BE FINE WITH IT - you'd be surprised, ask. 


Wow! you say.  I'm willing to put up with that behavior?  Where do you draw the line?  That depends.  Does it negatively effect productivity of your group?  Do you have easy access to a pool of trained workers ready to walk in and start producing?  If not, I 'd say who cares.  Every person you fire and every new hire takes TIME, time to decide, document, have meetings, process (you and several administrative staff), time the rest of the staff have to "adapt", time you spend learning and training a new staffer.  You know that TIME IS MONEY, right?


If you can't see the benefit of finding capabilites vs. liabilities, you're probably a bit overwrought, probably overworked, and might want to find some professional courses, coaching, mentoring, or even therapy if that's what helps you become a more successful manager.  Well, I admit there is another solution, insist you get the most highly experienced, trained and motivated staff for ALL your work.  If you get that, I'll admit it, you're a fantastically successful manager.




Everything boils down to TASKING


Tasking isn't saying "Do It" or drawing it all out while the staffer watches. 


Tasking should be thought of as milestones, prompts, or a checklist, tailored to the staffers understanding of the job at hand.  It serves as a reminder of whatever you feel is important, and that the staffer may not pick up, remember, or note effectively - yes all skills staffers need, but they cannot READ MINDS, nor can you read theirs when they say they understand, and don't.


In the end, remember, GIGO







Click here for examples of tasking and scheduling


The Buck Stops Here


When tasking staff , I always tell them "You get the work right, and you get the credit for it, you get it wrong, and it's my fault."  Why, because it's my job to make sure they are doing the job right.  I go on to say "It is your job to get it done in the time allocated, tell me when you feel lost or feel a task is taking too long.  Don't wait until you're done and it's due, speak up when there is still time to figure out the problem and get the work done on time."   Yes, I monitor staff's work, but to grow professionally, the first thing staff need to learn is to recognize signs of problems and ask for help.  As we all know, people are lousy at admitting they need help and asking questions.

I believe this works well as staff:


  • Know credit and recognition will be the reward for hard work.  Don't we all crave recognition? 
  • Know that they too have a responsibility to THINK about what they are doing.  Don't we all want others to care about what we think, not to have to slavishly do as we are told? 
  • Know they aren't left swinging in the breeze waiting to take a fall.  Don't we all hate that?


Quality Assurance


QA is why you have repeat customers.


QA is why you have a profit margin.


QA is why you don't have an ulcer.


QA is why you get to go to France with the wife and kids, and not bail out another disaster.


QA is documented, reviewed to some extent at all staff levels for all projects and staff, and tracked on a project and personal basis.


QA is not what we'll do next week, next month, or next year, it's what we'll do NOW!


Click here for a list of all web site sections related to QA.

Step by Step

Guides to


Your Office

(click below)



You'll want to document how you have succeded, and that is the vital part.  Don't create a standard for the sake of having a standard.  Who has spare time / staff / money for that?  You'll end up with endless paper no one wants to, or needs to follow.  ONLY document what has worked really well for you and then sell your staff on it, make use part of your QA and Incentive programs.