Manager and Individual contributor…

Okay at last I came up with something. I will mostly post topics related to building a good team.I am starting from what was the difference between being a manager and being an individual contributor.  

Individual Contributor

Being an individual contributor is much easy (I never knew this until I became a manager). Mostly the problems that were to be resolved were technical issues. Over the years I learnt that they were much easier to solve, Even though they looked too hard at that time. I planned my work & executed them with perfection. Because most of the days I knew the mood and what will work that day. All things worked as per plan. Time was abundant. And like all others I felt that manager’s life is really cool. No work to do just take work from top, divide and allocate the work. Then collect the status from individual team members and report them back. What a cool life?


The first time I was give the responsibility as a manager. I was totally happy thinking that okay at last the time has come. Now no need to do hard work just plan, delegate and report. But the reality was different. The first mistake that I made was I expected all the team members to be an exact replica of myself. Because before I became a manager I was an individual contributor. And individual contributor is nothing but a team of 1. The same person works as manager and the team member. Over the years I had mastered getting the work done with myself because I knew my capabilities and limitations. So when a team was given I wanted more number of me in the team So that it’s easy to get the work done much faster.

But the reality was different. I was given a team consisting of people from different education background, different culture, different language, different aspirations etc., so during the initial days I planned considering each team member as myself. And I tried getting the work done. The result was the team failed miserably.

Instead of cribbing that the team given to me is incompetent I tried to learn something out of those failures. The first hard lesson that I learnt was (as my mother used to say) “All the five fingers are not alike” each one has its own capabilities and limitations.  So as a manager I started to learn what is the capability and limitation of each team member. And I ruled out the thought from my mind that all the team members are alike. Now when a work was to be allocated I tried hard to allocate to the right guy. It was a tough exercise but it paid back well. After some time the team outperformed all other teams by leaps and bounds.

Next time I will post what glues a team together?