In September, our People Operations Team organised our first ever Managers Month dedicated to providing support, feedback and training to our wonderful management team. During the month, we looked at how we could be better managers – from improving our awareness of wellbeing to learning how to motivate our teams and recruit the best candidates. As we round off managers month, we caught up with our manager of the quarter, Chris Mills to find out how he’s smashing his new role as Cloud & Digital Lead Architect.
So Chris, how have you found your move into a managerial role?
It was a fairly smooth transition to be honest. I’ve been at ANS for almost 6 years now. I’ve progressed through cloud and enterprise architecture roles to now lead teams across enterprise, cloud, and data architecture, and product design.
To be honest, the people I work with have made moving into management easy. Every member is a specialist in their respective area, and no one is content. They strive every day to meet personal and company goals – they like being busy, they love being challenged, which ultimately is what you need in a fast-paced business like ANS, and all these qualities make my job easy. It allows me to focus more on service and pipeline development, rather than traditional managerial tasks. I believe that all good people need is the tools for the job and inspiration!
Are there any new skills you have had to adopt in your new role?
Yes, definitely. Part of leading the team means defining and testing new design approaches and service definitions, and then delivering these for the first time to establish/test the methodology, processes and design blueprints. Quite often this means I end up feeling uncomfortable for weeks or even months, and having to do a lot of reading in my spare time. Managing this new type of pressure has been both a blessing and a stress – its character building, and it means that I continue to be a technical leader rather than a people manager, which was one of my core principles when moving into management.
Balancing priorities is another skill I’ve had to master. Managing different clients and projects is BAU for anyone with experience in consultancy, however moving into management where you need to balance the priorities of 60 clients, around 30 active projects, 10 team members, and our businesses commercial targets, is next level. A balance is hard to strike (sometimes even impossible) but I always look for a compromise.
Another skill which I think is key is getting to know your team. Life is hard, anyone with a family and a job that isn’t 9-5, knows this. Managers are in a great position to help. We always have to have the balance of interests in mind. We should get to know staff as people, as family members, and as members of their local clubs, which means that we can make more informed judgments to make things easier for them to maintain a lower stress baseline, a happier personal life, and a more balanced work/family life.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a manager?
Without a doubt, pride, and the sense of achievement.
For me, the sense of pride I feel is similar to the pride you have for your kids. I have a little girl, Isla, and I remember all of her firsts. I remember feeling proud to have influenced her learning and development. And this feeling is very similar to when either new people join us, or current people progress into new roles – I feel proud that I have contributed to someone’s growth and development.
I also feel a great deal of achievement. My role at ANS was a brand new one which was created to deal with the rapid growth of our assessment services. In those days we were involved in assessments to specify data centre solutions, and over that time we have grown from 2 to 10 people, and now design everything from cloud platforms and operating models, to digital software solutions with the power to literally change people’s lives. What we have built and achieved as a team is pretty impressive if I do say so myself and I certainly feel a huge sense of achievement.
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to make the next step to becoming a manager?
Firstly, have clear vision and strategy. It’s important to know what your team’s next project is and how each individual contributes to turning that vision into reality.
My other piece of advice is around people and wellbeing. Your team is made up of people – they’re not robots. You should make sure you have a positive impact on their day. Interact with them frequently. Make time, get to know them, build friendships and most importantly, listen to them.
Thanks for your time Chris, it was great to hear your thoughts and congratulations once again for being named ANS’ Manager of the Quarter – it was certainly well deserved.
If you share Chris’ values and ethos and reckon you could excel as a team member or a manager, why not check out our available roles here.