Top virtues for a manager are to be able to select great professionals, to create a happy workplace and to promote innovation, learning and creation of ideas.

There are books and books written on how to achieve this, but many companies are struggling with unmotivated, chaotically hired employees that are “just working somewhere” and from that source they expect great achievements and to win in the market. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.

As was I already writing in the past, the key problem in every business is conceived when owners are not able to verbalize what are goals and what they are trying to do with their investment. First and most valuable layer of goals should be around expected profit margin and its growth. “How to do things” is allowed from owners only if that is a distinctive business value that generates revenues otherwise, just confuses and clutters the pipeline. If you instead of growth (measurable, not to be “better”) you set goals as “create good product”, you will fail because “what is good?” and “why do you think that good product means profit?”.

When you have understandable goals (as profit growth), management has to hire top technology person that will start creating philosophy and products that will generate revenue that will be transferred into a profit. That person has to also be personally motivated and to have share of that expected profit. By using of that top technologist, you start hiring senior and a lot of junior professionals that will be “flash” of your creativity. They have to be from diverse backgrounds (to be able to provide different ideas) but they have to generally share same philosophy around some key aspects.

Seniority represents a trust. Do not hire too many senior professionals compared to juniors. You as a manager will entrust a lot of decision power to your top technologist and some to senior professionals. Think about it during hiring process. Never try to create amorphous mass, a goo of indistinguishable people because that will kill their productivity. Try to have them competitive between groups, but also to understand that majority of productiveness happens when they work as a team. If you setup them well, they will generate great value automatically and you will have a really good prerequisites for a success.

Different companies are using different techniques to keep employees motivated. Some of best I’ve experienced are to show that each of them can do a contribution that will be recognized and appreciated and let them be productive. Productiveness is the best motivator for technology professionals so clear space to let that happen. Build teams that are proud of accomplishments and happy to show successes. Create showrooms, create town hall meetings where you will let everyone to show great accomplishments and “what I’ve learned”.

No islands. You have to explain that everyone should be connected to hands-on creation. That will promote learning and staying up to date with technology. You do not want to have architectural boards if all of members will not sit with everyone, one-on-one, even with most junior developers to make connection and to detect potential issues by talking about ideas and solutions. One bad example is to have “diagram architects” and to create a body where developers present their technology changes to that board and get approvals. If you check principles of modern agile, you will see that architect role is dramatically changed and now is more an advisor, a guide or a coach than an executive and a decision maker. For that reason, architects are members of teams and not a separate body.

To be able to achieve this, in many situations you will have to bend rules and to let more chaos to happen than what you would like to have, but science shows that more control means less innovation and your job is to find a line where you get most from it. One of great approaches is cutting of waste and managing businesses by following lean business principles: have rules just enough and have control mechanisms to add new rules and to remove ones that are not longer needed. Also, sometimes you will do some practices as no one before and in the end if best practice is discovered, than all companies would follow that one and be equally successful and as you can see, that is not happening. Focus on delivery and results, not on process! A culture will create process, but process will not develop culture.