Dear Manager – Are you a mentor or a dementor?


Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.  – Harry Potter Books

After reading this definition (read it two/three times please), if it matches exactly like some of the managers you came across in your life, I am not responsible! Well, I was fortunate not to come across many Dementors but I have seen them in action from close quarters. IT industry produces ton lots of managers every year but sadly most of the first time managers are not given any proper training about management. Most of them will adapt their style similar to the managers they have come across, now you will be able to understand how new Dementors are created!

Well, many surveys have already confirmed that “people leave their managers, not the company” and we are doing very little to improve this situation by letting more managers ruin the lives of projects and team members. If you look around social media circles the most ridiculed IT employee will be the manager! When you set your path towards leadership there are multiple styles of leadership you could choose and you should know the fact that single style of leadership will not be suitable for all the situations.

From what I have seen and experienced techies could become good managers provided they have some skills for learning and adapting. Someone who learns from his own mistakes as well from others’ should become a good manager. Let’s take some case studies to understand management better. VV is a good friend of mine and his path towards management was quite a story. Initially VV was just a technical guy but had a good respect amongst peers and juniors for his technical know how and his helping tendency. But when he started his management career he had to go through number of transformations to survive literally!

Even though he is good with peers and juniors he was not very open minded towards his superiors. He had a habit of writing long mails (I don’t know how he was able to write those long mails) to clients, his managers even to his teammates. First thing I did was to discourage him from writing long e-mails and instead go talk to the people in person or at least over the phone then write a mail to confirm. E-Mail is a menace and the industry is realizing how bad emails are affecting productivity of employees. Another thing he wanted to improve was how to deliver a message. He was sending all sorts of wrong signals (even I am expert in that..) to people just because of his tone, posture and language. Slowly he improved on that area  too.

Some of the qualities of  VV  I think we all should follow is, compassion towards team members , standing up for them, put his foot down when it mattered and high work ethics.  Before everything he is a good mentor. He mentored many people, people from all ages, both sexes etc.., If I wanted to groom some young trainees on Java I put them on to him and he would take them through a very good learning path and made them pretty good Java programmers.

Now let’s talk about a dementor I know, I don’t want to mention his name but he had all the qualities for a top position amongst dementors. He won’t like his team members participating in forums conducted by his peers, he won’t release them even if they are eligible for transfer, he ll make sure they leave the company rather than they join some other team. He is an expert in managing the upper management. Passing the information about his peers to senior management and damaging names his hobby.  He also mentors but for the wrong reasons. He grooms people like him to be leaders.

Well guess you know who is getting appreciated, rewarded and promoted for the activities. It’s the dementor not VV .. ha ha.. No surprises right.. Well the company is run by dementors, what do you expect?