I have spent the last three days attending Basic Blue, a training program designed for recently promoted first and second line managers at IBM.
As a technical guy I must say that I have always seen management as a necessity but not necessarily as a great career move. The problem however with techies shunning this development path is that too often the position is awarded to power mongers, money hunters or engineers who are falling behind due to obsolescence. That was not my case. I just saw that something was wrong with the team and I wanted to fix it.
My declared objective is to make sure that IBM’s software group technical team becomes the best of the industry (at least here in Mexico) and that we get recognized as such even by our competitors. And I want to make sure we have fun while working on this objective. The mission can be summarized in three words, pride, recognition and great work environment. I realize that I still have a long way to go but I have great hopes to reach my goal relatively quickly as I see a lot of talent in my group.
To tell you the truth, I did not have great expectations for this course and I wasn’t totally wrong as some of the topics were a simple rehash of what we had already seen before in previous training sessions. The most interesting part was analyzing the results of employee surveys. This really helps to understand what is working and what needs to be changed. It would be great to be able to submit this survey once a year t monitor progress.
However, what really encouraged me was to see a group of fourteen managers really committed to the success of their respective teams as well as their individual members. Nobody complained about their survey results, even though you can believe me when I say that nobody got good grades on every measured competency. On the contrary, it was clear that all the attendees saw this as a great opportunity to improve their behavior and the organizational climate. This clearly demonstrates to me that since HR has professionalized the selection of new managers they have managed to start building a team of truly committed leaders that clearly understand that their position as people managers is primarily about people. This seems to be a result of the personal focus of IBM CEO Sam Palmisano on values. Too often such kind of initiatives sound shallow and useless. It seems that at IBM this is not the case.