7 Deadly Management Sins

#1 – Dictatorship
“You are wrong, I’m right” attitude (or “it’s my way, or the highway”) is a deadly management sin. The guy who “leads” the team by dictatorship will soon be left alone with nobody to manage. Game producers and managers need to be ready to make tough decisions and tell how things will be done – but not always. Stubborn attitude leads to getting stuck – and nobody follows a dictator forever.

#2 – Lack of focus in production
Aimless game production or project work is another deadly sin: it leads to clueless work, that results to nothing. If there are huge number of open issues and possibilities then it might mean slowed progress as no decisions are being made. If the team is focussed on making progress through certain path, then it’s much more likely to get the project finished. Lacking clear focus and objectives are killing mistakes in game production.

#3 – Forgetting your team members when they’ve done a good job
Here’s a simple test for any manager out there. Simply answer yes or no in the following two questions.

Question number one:

“Have you noticed some poor work by your team members and required it to be re-done in your current project?”

Question number two:

“Have you given praise to your team members for some good work done within this month?”

If you answered “Yes” to both of the following questions, then you are in the right path. If you answered “Yes” only the first question – then you seriously should think about your current management style. Other combinations are possible, but the bottom line is: you have to make sure you keep certain level of quality, and make darn sure that you let your team members know when they’ve done a good job.

#4 – Not focusing on the outcome
Focus on results. That’s a simple piece of advice that’s so easy to forget. Sometimes there might be team members who like to do things on their way, and “not by the book”. As long as these team members produce the necessary results and don’t harm the team work, there’s no reason to require them to “work like everybody else”.

Some people insist that there must be certain working hours, but if somebody wants to take 1 hour nap during the day – that shouldn’t be a problem. If somebody would spend half day meditating, yet achieving twice as much as the rest of the team: there shouldn’t be any problem with this guy’s habits. As long as they are ethical, legal (you have to think your company), are align with the company values and vision (for example: there might be certain requirements for company image) then it shouldn’t be a problem.

I try to follow the guideline to let team members do almost whatever they want (notice the word “almost”) – as long as they get the job done. When I’m outsourcing some tasks, I really don’t care if they use voodoo dolls and prayers when they are coding: as long as the code is done as it was agreed, and as long as they produce good results – I couldn’t care less how it was done.

If focusing results works in outsourcing, why shouldn’t it work also work done in-house?

#5 – Getting nice people, instead of right people in the team
Another deadly sin: getting nice people instead of right people. I don’t put much focus on whether the team members should be friends or not (for the reason that was mentioned in the previous chapter), but I can assure you that “being nice” alone cannot be the factor when deciding who gets in the team.

Some project teams are almost build like that: everybody gets to join and the guideline is “we just have fun making games”. While that is a noble idea… I really don’t think it will be such a good long-term solution. Taking everybody who is “nice and interested about the project” doesn’t guarantee that you get the rights persons to do the right job.

Instead of “nice persons”, pick “nice persons who have the necessary skills to produce the results you want”.

#6 – Asking recommendations, and then ignoring them
I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I have to say this again as this is one sure-way methods to kill the team spirit. If you ask recommendations from your team members: then make 100% sure that you actually check out those recommendations and consider them.

If you’ve already decided what you are going to do – then there’s no point pretending anything else. Team members will be much more grateful for a leader who tells them what to do than for a leader who asks recommendations and then does whatever he had already decided.

#7 – Not taking into account team members’ personal life
There are situations in every people’s lives that might affect to the work. Sometimes these can be very sensitive issues, and if you don’t notice what’s going on in team members’ personal lives – then you might end up seeing somebody’s work performance going down, or somebody even leaving the team for no apparent reason. It’s a deadly sin to forget that there’s life outside work.

4 thoughts on “7 Deadly Management Sins

  1. [...] Game Dev blog cites managers for sins like being a dictator, not giving credit and picking the wrong team. [...]

  2. “> Some people insist that there must be certain working hours, but if somebody wants to take 1 hour nap during the day – that shouldn’t be a problem. If somebody would spend half day meditating, yet achieving twice as much as the rest of the team: there shouldn’t be any problem with this guy’s habits.

    Well, there is a problem with this. If you ask most people what they want the most from their employer is fairness. So, if you have a genius in your team that only spend 1 hour at work and produce twice the work than anyoneelse, you might be really to have this guy with you. But all the other co-workers will be piss off that this guy come only 1 hour at work when they have to stay much longuer.”

    jcottier mentioned this in the other post… and that’s why I had “As long as these team members produce the necessary results and don’t harm the team work, there’s no reason to require them to “work like everybody else”.” :)

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  4. This is really a great list of things to remember, thanks!