What makes a good manager? What makes a bad manager?

MAS (n.d.) describes a good manager as a manager that achieves a “hard working, productive and effective workforce that punches above its weight in its performance”. Some qualities a good manager should have, as Gates (n.d.) describes can be summed up as:

  • Working within a field that they enjoy.
  • Not afraid to fire people who are bringing the team down.
  • Uses his resources to create a productive team, whether by financial rewards or better working conditions.
  • Informs employees clearly of what defines success and what the goals are.
  • Interacts with all members of the team and creates a relationship (not necessarily friendship) between all employees.
  • Transfers his/her skills to the employees, train an employee to be better than the manager him/herself.
  • Gives employees a sense of importance, allows them to feel an important part of the company.
  • Is hands on, also takes part in work rather than simply delegates it.
  • Is decisive, must take time to make a clear, first decision and stick with it. Going back on decisions creates doubt.
  • Lets employees know who to please, allows employees to know what to prioritise in their day to day work environments.

About.com (n.d.) did a poll to the public to vote on what makes a bad boss, the results show the following from 19137 votes:

  • 34% – Manager provides little direction
  • 10% – Manager offers little or no recognition for success and hard work
  • 9% – Manager is indecisive and changes direction at a whim
  • 24% – Manager micromanages and nit-picks your work
  • 18% – Manager belittles and puts down staff
  • 3% – Miscellaneous answers

Personally, I would put the 2nd and 5th option on the same level as the 1st option as I feel those issues are all very important when it comes to management.

From my experiences I would consider the following points on good and bad management techniques:

  • Encouraging and motivating the team constantly. If the manager is consistent in their encouragement and positive attitude it is reassuring. A manager that is cynical and unmotivated when ‘relaxed’ comes across as being false when they decide to act motivated on cue when they are required to introduce a new project.
  • Managers who are willing to put in overtime hours with you to get a project done rather than leaving at the assigned closing time has proven to keep myself and my team-mates in these situations more motivated. Keeping a positive attitude rather than a negative one in times of missed-deadlines is also good. It is understandable that sometimes management is unable to stay but in these scenarios, staying available telephonically/via some form of communication is also beneficial.
  • Balancing the work-load correctly, being slammed with 12 hour working days for 3 weeks and then sitting idle for the next 3 weeks can create unnecessary stresses. In quiet times it is a good idea to keep employees working on something.
  • Assigning valuable work to employees. I have been assigned projects which were never reviewed and never used – purely to keep me busy while waiting on other departments. This did not make me feel important or necessary and cast out from the rest of the team.
  • Mutual respect. I have been lucky to deal with mostly managers that share a mutual respect and do not treat me as a “lower being”. Managers that treat their staff as lesser people than themselves, in my experience, alienate themselves from the rest of the company; landing up with nobody liking them at all, purely because of the attitude.

In conclusion, I feel that a manager must, most importantly, be personable and authoritative. They must be open to discussion on decisions but, as Gates (n.d) says, must not go back on their decisions unless absolutely necessary. I do not have a problem with a certain level of “arrogance” but, as with anyone who claims to be something, they must be able to prove their worth and earn their respect by performing their duties efficiently and correctly.

Reference List

About.com (n.d.) Poll Results – What makes a Manager a Bad Boss [Online]. Available from: z http://humanresources.about.com/gi/pages/poll.htm?linkback=http://humanresources.about.com/b/a/257578.htm&poll_id=5738279818&submit1=Submit+Vote (Accessed: 8 March 2011).

Gates, B (n.d.) A good manager has at least 10 good qualities [Online] Business Times. Available from: http://www.btimes.co.za/97/1102/tech/tech6.htm (Accessed: 8 March 2011).

MAS (n.d.) What makes a Good Manager? [Online] Management Advisory Service. Available from: http://www.mas.org.uk/management-advisory-service/what-makes-a-good-manager.html (Accessed: 8 March 2011).

 

The WIPO Copyright Treaty & Feasibility of Copyrights

As discussed by Adams and McCrindle (2008, p.423), the WIPO Copyright Treaty includes an increased moral right to the author of the work, as per their example in Germany and France that income derived from an authors work must always partially flow back to the author. Also mentioned repeatedly by Adams and McCrindle the development of patents and copyrights were brought about to encourage creativity and reward innovation. The basis of this I am in full agreement of and I do believe that creators of new innovations and ideas must be accredited and compensated for their work. In the WIPO Copyright Treaty (Adams and McCrindle, 2008, p.422), the copyright law extends to the life of the author plus 70 years after the authors death.

The limitations of copyrights I can see would be simply up to the copyright owners’ decisions on how to distribute or how much they distribute their work for. As depicted in a discussion on Google Answers (2002), where an author published a book at a very high price and then died leaving the copyright to no heirs – the public must wait 70 years until they are able to reprint the work at a more reasonable price to increase circulation.

In the feasibility of copyright value-adds and levies are really only accurately argued when considered alongside the fees that the publisher/producer etc. are adding on-top. Many argue from an idealist point of view that (commonly the argument is against musicians) artists should be doing what they do to enjoy the art and not to be all about the money; but in the world we live in – money is an important aid to quality of life and enjoyment (note: I am not saying it is what gives quality to life, but it does help a lot when compared to poverty), to quote Adams and McCrindle again, without reward for innovation and creativity, would there be as many innovations and hard work put into developing new medicines and techniques for helping people? Even music and entertainment is something important to this world.

Never mind being rich and famous but just having monetary compensation to pay bills while enhancing the new potentially life-saving innovations is something we should definitely consider feasible.

While some may take advantage of these laws we have to consider the good coming from it.

References

Adams, A & McCrindle, J (2008) Pandora’s Box: Social and professional issues of the information age. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Google Answers (2002) Q: Copyrights after an author’s death [Online]. Google: Available from: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=21037 (Accessed: 28 November 2010).

If Data Protection is left to the Market, will only the Rich be truely Protected?

I think that it is somewhat unavoidable for a person to protect their data if we are to function in society at the same level of ease as the general populous. By saying this I mean, taking advantage of WiFi hotspots with our mobile devices, buying the latest cars and homes via bank finance (banks are more accepting of people with credit histories when giving credit), using the latest mobile devices with GPS capabilities and even having things like GPS tracking for security purposes in our vehicles; and not to forget, online shopping – even (some may say especially) using Facebook or other social networks.

If you were to avoid using all of these ‘luxury’ convenience items I think your data would be “safer” than if you did use them, but then how well could you function in todays society? Without a bank account, credit history, even internet access you are severely hampered from being able to actively and efficiently perform in today’s fast paced life.

The question of data protection going to the rich, I am not so sure how well the rich are covered in data protection, generally I would assume that the richer you are the more on the ‘government radar’ and ‘marketing radar’ you would be. With large transactions moving in and out of the country/even nationally the local tax authorities are generally flagged on such movements. While there may be ways around these issues I do not think there will be commercially available services to evade the ‘watch dogs’ of society, regardless of price. With many luxury subscriptions and items, your information is generally shared to marketing companies.

While my above point touches on potential ‘grey area’ privacy issues, for general privacy such as email and internet usage and personal data, I do think perhaps the wealthy would have a better chance of remaining ‘private’, with premium email service providers who run on SSL connections and perhaps a more dedicated means of connectivity onto the internet, the wealthier would be able to afford the means in which to encrypt and secure their data.

That said, the Open Source and Freeware Software movement is still fairly rife; while, arguably, sometimes not as ‘good’ – probably more accurate to say, not as comprehensive as the commercial applications; there are tools at no cost for securing the devices you use to access the outside world which may contain your private data.

Referring to my previous post, new laws for anti-spam and opt-in & opt-out communications are helping all areas of society maintain their privacy.

Ethical Responsibilities of the Computing Professional

What responsibilities do we as computing professionals have in our industry? Do we have a responsibility solely to follow the goals and policies of our company?

Computer professionals, in my opinion, have ethical responsibilities but I do believe that in some circumstances these responsibilities are unattainable due to external circumstance.

In general, I believe a computer professional should be able to grasp and understand the goal of the intended system or systems they are working on. Not only to make ethical judgement but to perform their role in the development of such system from an informed point of view. If the professional is aware of the overall goal that the system is being developed for and the implications of such a system, he or she should be able to make judgement whether they approve or disapprove of the ethics behind such a system.

The problem with ethics is that different people, cultures etc. have different beliefs in right and wrong. So in this scenario a code of ethics for the organisation should be established to avoid any blurred interpretation, also so that the perspective employees can review them before deciding to apply for a job at the organisation (Payne, 2003).

To directly answer the question of what computing professionals responsibility to society at large are, I would say, is to keep the views of the user and the law in mind, while adhering to their responsibility in their organisation. To look at it from a user’s perspective and think of the effects that the system may have, both positively and negatively on the general populous. As well, to not knowingly jeopardise a system by infringing on copyrights or patents (Adams & McCrindle, 2008, p.10).

That being said, I do not think it the blame should lie on the professional. Today with the cost of living, you cannot choose to leave your current employer (and salary) due to your beliefs that what they are doing is, perhaps, wrong in your definition.

I feel that the goal of such projects and the determining of right and wrong in the broader scheme should lie in the area of business ethics and would be aimed at the organisation and decision makers of the project more than the professionals involved in carrying out such tasks.

To summarise I would say the responsibility of the professional is to carry out their role in the project to their best ability and concentration, to ‘care’ about what they are doing with the bigger picture in mind, rather than just going through the motions. This will hopefully ensure a quality production. The business ethics of right and wrong is more the responsibility of the organisation.

References

Adams, A.A. & McCrindle, R.J. (2008) Pandora’s box: Social and professional issues of the information age. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Payne, D (2003) ‘Engineering ethics and business ethics: commonalities for a comprehensive code of ethics’, IEEE Region 5, 2003 Annual Technical Conference, pp.81-87, IEEE Xplore [Online]. DOI: 10.1109/REG5.2003.1199714 (Accessed: 7 November 2010).

What questions to ask in the Turing Test?

This issue is based on the “Turing Test” – you can read about the Turing Test and what it is by clicking here (to summarise, it is a test first proposed by Alan Turing where a human and a computer are asked a series of questions, and if the interrogator is unable to tell which is the computer, the computer has passed the “Turing Test” – the computer is able to “think”).

The 5 questions that I would ask the “computer” in the Turing Test would be the following:

  1. What was the most influential event of your childhood and how do you feel this event affects you today?
  2. Who are you as a person?
  3. Describe your feelings if you were to be given the opportunity to fly to the moon?
  4. If you were to draw yourself as an abstract painting, what colours and shapes would you use and why?
  5. What emotions have been involved in answering the questions that I have given you up to this point and what do you feel is the strongest question out of the 4?

I have chosen these questions as they are all fairly psychological and open to interpretation. While each individual question may be able to be answered individually, the group of questions describe a person’s personality and character in an abstract manner.

By looking at the answers to questions 1 and 4 you should be able to get the same idea as the answer to question 2 should give you, question 5 should culminate all questions and should be difficult to simulate a valid response, it is also completely dependent on the answers given to the previous 4 questions. Each question can change the final response in its own way. The second part of question 5 also can be interpreted based on human emotions involved in the answers to the previous 4 questions.

There is no definitive correct answer to any of the questions but human intuition will give the upper hand in deciding whether the answers given tie up to being human or machine.

PS: This is a highly debated topic of whether this test can really test for machine thought (AI), and some have proven that a series of random pre-programmed answers based on keywords may pass the test