Michael Lopp (a.k.a. Rands) explains why managers get to see a disproportionate amount of problems:
There’s a reason you’ll see an inordinate amount of bizarre organizational crap as a manager. See, the individuals can handle — and should handle — the regular stuff. You want a team of people who aren’t bringing you every little thing, but if you successfully build this team, your reward is that what is ends up in your office is uniquely kooky.
New managers spend time being busy, but most of the hours they work is devoted to unnecessary micro-management. They spend time in understanding every detail of the work done, critiquing it, mentoring people and even outright showing them how to do things. As they become more mature, managers learn to trust their team, provide them the right support to get things done, and put in the right processes.
Soon the team is on auto-pilot for their regular work, but when faced with unexpected new obstacles, they will need you to intervene. So ironically, as you become a better manager, you are faced with greater challenges, which you may be unprepared for. These fall into the category of high-class problems, which you will never face if you are a bad manager still struggling with petty problems.
Rands also had some interesting remarks about context-switching with respect to meetings: [redaction of expletive mine]
This is your morning. Six 30-minute 1:1s starting at 9am. This day is unique in that in your 4th 1:1, your architect resigns. The guy who has been designing the heart of your application for 18 months has been poached by a start-up and had piles of money thrown at him, and it sounds like there’s no way of saving him. Sounds grim. What’s harder is that when your sky-is-falling 1:1 is done, you’ve got your next one with your QA Director who has no clue your architect resigned, and she urgently wants to talk bug database, and that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to quietly and confidently forget that you’re ****ed and give this team member your full attention.
Thus it comes about that you are trying to put out more than one fire simultaneously, while at the same time, talking to customers, vendors and partners, who have no idea what is going inside your head, and who demand that you pay attention to their concerns. Everyone who wants your time expects you to treat them as your highest priority, and woe unto you if their grievances are not causing your heart to bleed.
So yes, management means sometimes putting on a mask to hide what you are really thinking, and instead behave with the utmost sincerity, respect and decorum. And then following upon every single commitment that you make.
[Image licensed from substance_coop]