In the fourth and final part of this management series, I am finally going to get to how truly epic it is for you and everyone around you when you are rockin' a management position. First, I will go through the obvious benefits which come with being a good manager, which need no explanation, then I will dive deeper.
This is the secret that every good manager knows. Yeah, it is hard work, it will challenge you, it will push you to your limits at times, but it will also bring you great joy and satisfaction knowing that your employees are well served by you. Yes, a good manager understands that he is of service to his employees. He checks in with them regularly, asks them what they are workin' on, if they have everything they need to do their job well, and listens to their responses. He develops strong professional relationships with his employees because he knows that he will benefit from the trust that will develop. Trust is a requirement for a manager to foster because with trust in an organization, people are happier and everything moves faster.
The person you should start with, as always, is yourself. If you don't trust yourself to be a manager of people, then you need to get help, because management positions have broken many a strong woman with ease, and it will break you too, if you do not trust in your skills and abilities. Get help when you need it, and most importantly, get a mentor who is good at managing her people. It will pay off in ways you could never predict for the rest of your life.
I knew a woman who was the manager of an accounting department at a place that I worked. She demanded a lot from her people, but she also tended to be defensive and a bit aggressive toward her staff and her colleagues. One day, as I was waiting outside my supervisor's office for a meeting, I overheard this manager and my supervisor talking about me in less than colorful terms. This woman was telling my supervisor that unfortunately, I did not know how to do specific parts of my job, and that is why parts of her job were not getting done.
My fantasy was to go in there with all the might and power of Heavy Metal, tell them both where to go, and reveal this woman for the fraud that she was, sword in hand, wind blowing back my hair as Dio's Holy Diver played in the background. (I have a rich fantasy life which sometimes fuels visions of bad 80s Heavy Metal videos) But I did not. I sat there quietly, patiently, and listened to every word she said, and reflected on whether or not it was true.
To my great relief, not much of it was, but it gave me an insight into her treatment of the people on her staff and the people that she worked with. She had no confidence in her abilities and she was worried that her boss, her employees and her colleagues would find out that she was a fraud. Instead of asking for help with the skills she needed to develop, she was pushing everyone away with her behavior and ridiculously complicated accounting techniques.
What a lot of energy she spent. She was an unhappy person because she could not trust herself. Her staff was deeply unsatisfied and a bit nervous, because they knew that she would fire them if they appeared to know her weakness. It was a broken situation which never healed until she left the job and was replaced by someone who had the skills and abilities necessary to do it.
Get the skills you need to do your job. Take communication training and any other training necessary to be an asset to your employees. If they need help with something that is not your strong suit, get them the help they need from someone who is capable. Be open about it, from your weaknesses to what you are doing about them. Your employees will respect you for it.
When you trust yourself, it is easier for you trust your employees to do their jobs. You are also open to hearing their criticism of you. What? You don't want criticism? They have no right? You are the boss? Get over yourself. It is no longer the 1950s. It is the new millennium, and we must accept that even though we are someone's boss, we are no better than they are as a human, and holding on to this false belief will only weaken your position.
Ask for criticism. Let them know that you need their feedback in order to do your job better, that you depend on their honest evaluation of how you do your job. Asking for this communicates that you respect your employees, that you trust them, and that you depend on them. It lets them know that they are important to you. Do you know what people do who feel respected and trusted? They work their asses off for you. They do their very best.
You will have a work culture which values hard work, integrity and trust. When new employees come into this culture, they will need less from you because in order to fit in and thrive, they will need to develop these qualities. This type of culture also includes healthy professional boundaries. More of your time is spent on work, and less of it on non-work.
Over time, less and less of your time will be spent managing, and more of it will be spent cheerleading and directing. If you are a manager, you need time to do long-term planning, and you will have that time if you foster an atmosphere of trust and respect. You will be able to celebrate your successes with your employees, giving them the credit they deserve, and watching them develop their own skills and abilities in order to fulfill their career goals. You will be a part of the success of others! You will have the deep satisfaction of knowing that you helped other people be their best!
At this point, it is all about growth. If your employees are interested in growing, your job is to help them get to the next level, if there is one to be had. Yes, being a manager is a lot like being a parent. You need to give your employees wings so that they can use them if they need to. It is your job to help them be better, and there is no greater joy than watching someone you managed work their way up or into their dream career. Still better is when they tell you that you were pivotal in helping them get there. Not only have you done your job well, you have helped your employees achieve their dreams.
What a rewarding relationship this can be! As a good manager, you are fueling the happiness of your employees and their families. You are encouraging them to take on the world with confidence, and, you are also teaching them how to be a good manager to their employees one day. Being a manager can be a dream job if you put the effort and energy into yourself and your people. If you are lucky enough to be made a manager, don't miss out on that opportunity.
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