Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Management Isn't That Hard if You Remember These 3 Things

Parenthood is one of those jobs that you think doesn't look too difficult until you've done it. Then, you realize that you have 18 years of caring for a child when you're running on no sleep, (usually) bad food and everyone constantly telling you what you're doing wrong.

The same thing is true of management. How hard can it be? Just tell other people what to do, collect a nice paycheck and fire people who annoy you.

Then you actually become a manager and you realize how really wrong you were about the job. People come whining to you with every little thing ("Bob keeps burping the alphabet!" "Marsha talks too loud on the phone!"). You realize that no one has any problem calling you on your day off to ask you where they can find extra staples. Your boss wants to know why your team can't work faster, cheaper and with more enthusiasm after he slashes 10% of your budget and lays off five people.

The important thing about management is not to get too distracted by all the theories out there that will make your a better boss. Sure, it would be nice for you to make barbecue every Friday for your team and let them practice yoga in your office, but that's not always possible -- or even reasonable.

So, let's look at the things that are pretty simple that will help make you a good manager. Perhaps not the best manager on the face of the planet, but at least someone who isn't burned in effigy in the parking lot.

You need to:

1. Communicate. In all the years I've been covering the workplace, this is at the heart of most problems. Failure to communicate. Don't assume that your team knows what you're thinking, and why you think it. You will have to tell them, even if you've told them 10 times before. When you explain why you made a decision, then they start to understand your leadership philosophy -- and it will ensure that you hold yourself accountable. You said it and they heard it. No trying to pin a bad decision on someone else -- and you will earn full credit for a good decision.

2. Be flexible. In order to truly be effective as a leader, you can't offer cookie-cutter solutions to your team. What motivates Jean the introvert is not the same thing that will motivate Laura, an outgoing motormouth. This will require you to spend time talking to individual team members so you get a better handle on what will work in certain situations.

3. Learn to delegate. This is a tough one, much tougher than people realize. It's tough to let go of certain tasks, because a) you've been burned in the past when someone did a crappy job after being delegated a responsibility and b) it's just easier to do it yourself that spend time explaining it to someone else. I get it. But here's a little incentive: What would it be like to not be called 10 times a day while on vacation? What would it be like to see someone really rise to the occasion and do such a wonderful job you don't work 12-hour-days anymore? It's worth a shot, and you know that deep down maybe you don't delegate because that person won't do it exactly like you want it. So what? Is doing a job differently really so bad if the person still achieves results?

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