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The Technical Manager's Guide to Success in an Uncertain World

The Technical Manager's Guide to Success in an Uncertain World

The world is uncertain right now. Today's rapidly changing business environment is leading technical managers to face uncertainty in their careers — and for some of you, for the first time in your careers.

Economic fluctuations can result in job losses and layoffs, making it difficult to stay afloat. However, adopting the right mindset can empower technical managers to thrive, even during uncertain times. This article will discuss five mindset tips to help you navigate uncertainty:

  1. Focus on Becoming Invaluable by Solving Tough Problems
  2. Hone Uncommon and Rare Skills
  3. Embrace Life's Uncertainties: Learn from "Thinking in Bets"
  4. Work Hard and Show Openness to Growth
  5. Prioritize Life, Friends, and Family

By following these mindset tips, you'll increase your value as an employee and make yourself highly sought-after by other employers if circumstances beyond your control force you to leave your current job.

Focus on Becoming Invaluable by Solving Tough Problems

Focus on solving your organization's most pressing and challenging problems to become invaluable. Doing so demonstrates your desire to make a difference rather than simply working on cool technical things. As you continuously tackle tough and frustrating problems, you'll build persistence and a reputation as an indispensable team member.

It's important to remember that your value as a technical manager extends beyond your technical skills. You should also invest in developing strong problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and a growth mindset. These traits will make you a more effective leader and increase your value to your organization.

Dedicate yourself to problem-solving and take on tasks others might avoid, making you an essential part of your organization.

Hone Uncommon and Rare Skills

Rare skills are often a combination of technical skills and something else, like excellent soft skills or domain knowledge of your industry. This combination allows you to unlock and communicate your knowledge effectively within your organization or make swift product decisions based on your technical skills and domain knowledge.

Developing these rare skills can set you apart from your peers and make you an invaluable asset to your company. Some examples of uncommon and rare skills include effective communication, conflict resolution, project management, stakeholder management, and a deep understanding of your industry's trends and challenges.

Seek opportunities to improve your communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities and stay up-to-date with industry trends and emerging technologies.

These types of skills are very difficult to replace, offshore, or outsource.

Embrace Life's Uncertainties: Learn from "Thinking in Bets"

No matter your actions, luck and chance always play a role.

In her book "Thinking in Bets," author Annie Duke explores the idea of making decisions in the face of uncertainty. She encourages readers to view decisions as bets with potential risks and rewards. By accepting that uncertainty is a fact of life and learning to make decisions in the face of incomplete information, you can develop a flexible mindset that enables you to succeed even in uncertain times.

This mindset can help you better manage your team and projects, as you can make informed decisions based on the best available information while remaining adaptable to change. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, as you'll be more comfortable with the inherent uncertainty of life and work.

Most importantly, you will accept that some things are just outside your control, and you can be negatively affected by a business decision or change. If this happens, you will be more resilient.

Work Hard and Show Openness to Growth

Sometimes, you need to work hard to achieve something or to advance in your career, and that's perfectly fine.

There will also be times when you work hard and do not get something you were expecting.

My advice is to work hard anyway.

Anecdotally, I have witnessed employees, often younger, adopt a defensive attitude regarding employment. However, it's vital to acknowledge that not all employers intend to exploit you.

It's difficult to become invaluable and develop the persistence to solve tough challenges without this mindset.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, request feedback, or admit when you've made a mistake. This attitude can foster trust and collaboration within your team and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

You must recognize that you don't know everything and can always learn and grow. By showing openness to growth, you foster a supportive and collaborative environment within your team.

This mindset also helps you build trust with your colleagues and managers, making it more likely that they will support you in times of uncertainty. Additionally, being open to growth and learning can help you stay current with industry trends and best practices, further increasing your value as an employee.

Prioritize Life, Friends, and Family

Remember that life, friends, and family always come first.

Never allow work to supersede your health, family, or friendships. A summarized quote from a former Coca-Cola CEO states, "Work is a rubber ball. The others are glass." in that if you drop work, it will rebound, which is not true for health, friends, and family. They can become irreparably broken.

Strive for greatness, but avoid making it a routine or neglecting your health, family, or friends. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is crucial for long-term success and well-being.

When you prioritize your personal life, you'll be more energized, focused, and engaged at work. Additionally, having a strong support system can help you navigate the uncertainties that inevitably arise in your professional life.

Schedule regular time for self-care, hobbies, and social activities, and be present during these moments. Cultivate a support network of friends and family who can encourage and advise during challenging times. By prioritizing what truly matters, you can find fulfillment in your personal life while still striving for professional success.

In conclusion, by adopting the right mindset, technical managers can prepare themselves for success even in uncertain times. By focusing on becoming invaluable by solving tough problems, honing uncommon and rare skills, embracing life's uncertainties, working hard with a growth mindset, and prioritizing life, friends, and family, you can position yourself for success and build resilience in the face of uncertainty.

By doing these things, employers won't want you to leave, and if something happens outside of your control and you do leave, many other employers will want to hire you due to your rare and valuable skills.

Remember, your experience and expertise are valuable, and with the right mindset, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way. By following these mindset tips, you'll increase your value within your organization and make yourself highly sought-after by other employers, ensuring a successful and fulfilling career regardless of the uncertainties ahead.