A manager's job isn't the same as a worker's job, so it's no surprise they don't need to know the same things. In many occupations, that difference in knowledge bases isn’t a big deal, but technology projects and technical decisions require specialized knowledge. Managers who don't come from a technical background sometimes have a hard time understanding all the factors that affect a team's ability to meet project deadlines, and to deliver successfully. Here's how you can work effectively with a non-technical manager.
Recognize That Your Boss Isn't Stupid, Just Uninformed
Your boss got to their position because they're successful at making management decisions. That means they're smart. But making smart decisions means understanding problems and all the details that impact them. Help your boss make smarter decisions by helping them understand the technology and the choices you want to make. You'll need to support your opinions and proposals by providing lots of background information about the way the technology really works, where the problems come from, and why they can't be solved in a different, faster, cheaper way.
Keep Your Boss Out of the Code
At the same time that you're explaining details of the technology to your boss, you don't want to get so low-level that they're looking over your shoulder at the code. Encourage them to focus on managing the end users, budgets, and administrative issues – while you focus on solving the technical problems.
Document Your Discussions
For some technical problems, you may have to accept a non-technical manager's decision that it's not worth spending more time addressing issues before shipping; a report that lacks bolded headers may not look pretty, but isn't harmful. Other problems are more serious and can leave a company open to compliance problems or even cause real injury to users. In those cases, be sure you document your discussions with your manager to make it clear they were responsible for the decision.
Sometimes the frustrations of dealing with a non-technical manager are simply too much to put up with any longer. If you've reached that point of frustration and need to find a manager you'll be more compatible with, The Armada Group can help match you with a position where you'll thrive. Contact us to start your job search now.