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Decalogue: untold truths about management

Decalogue: untold truths about management

Why must managers pay attention in how to deal with employees?

In order to progress in your professional career, some experts have a 4 point-steps:

  1. Get a job.
  2. Master that job.
  3. Manage other people doing that job.
  4. “Run sh*t”.

As told by Emma Brudner in her blog, she hopes that this information can help people considering management make a fully informed decision -and let current managers know that if they’re experiencing any of the things on this list, they’re not alone.

1) Management can be lonely
Blog post originally published December 13 2017, updated December 29 2017.

When you’re the manager of a team, there’s by definition only one of you. There’s no one else in the same role who you can turn to when you’re stuck, or confused, or frustrated — and that can sometimes leave you feeling lonely.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to find support as a manager. The key word is “find.” As a manager, you have to intentionally seek out fellow leaders and actively build a support network.

 2) You stop practicing your craft

You probably got your job as a manager because you were particularly good at whatever you were doing as an individual contributor… but in your new role, you actually stop doing that thing. The manager’s role is to help their team execute their craft particularly well. And because you’re playing an enablement role instead of actually doing the work, your skills are probably going to get a bit rusty.

3) Get Thinking/Talking Done (GSD)
  1. Get Thinking Done
  2. Get Talking Done

The first definition of “GTD” refers to strategic planning, which requires quite a bit of reflection and rumination. The second definition refers to enabling team members through coaching, providing feedback, and training. Neither of these “GTD” modes lend themselves to crossing items off a to-do list.

I’ve often heard new managers accustomed to executing tasks fast and furious remark that they feel like they’re not “doing anything” in their new role. This isn’t true -their work is just as vital and important- but it happens on a more ongoing cadence and isn’t neatly completed at the end of a day or week.

4) You don’t get as much feedback

As an individual contributor, you (hopefully) get feedback on a timely and consistent basis. Do something awesome, and you’ll get near instant validation. Fumble on a project, and you’ll get constructive criticism soon after.

When you’re a manager, the feedback loop slows thanks to the nature of the GTD grind. Your manager doesn’t have as much visibility into your “thinking” and “talking” work as they do with more task-oriented output, and this means you’ll probably get periodic packages of feedback at certain milestones rather than an ongoing stream.

On the flip side of the equation, it can feel uncomfortable to give your direct manager feedback. To encourage your reports to weigh in on your performance, consider putting anonymous mechanisms in place, or ask them to share their thoughts with your manager.

5) You have to do hard things

Giving constructive criticism, conducting performance reviews, resolving conflicts, making sometimes unpopular decisions -managers have to do a lot of things that aren’t exactly a barrel of laughs.

Telling someone that they made a mistake or that their work isn’t up to par sucks — manager or not. Being a manager means signing up to feel the feelings and do the hard things anyway.

6) Management is emotional

In addition to contending with your own feelings, as a manager, you’re also more frequently on the receiving end of others’ emotions. Work is emotional, and if you have a good relationship with your reports, they’re going to express frustration, stress, worry, anger, and a whole host of other emotions to you. Tears will be shed. Voices will be raised. Eyebrows will be crinkled. Sometimes all at once.

Managers have to remain objective to make sound decisions, and you can’t let someone else’s anger or frustration or guilt cloud your view on a situation.

7) Self-regulation, all day, every day

Self-regulation means being mindful to not let your own emotion get in the way of delivering a clear message. It’s not easy, but it’s critically important. Pro tip: Invest in a good stress ball or join a gym with punching bags.

8) You spend less time in the spotlight

As I said above, managers are enablers, not executors. If a project your team worked on was a smashing success, the lion’s share of the credit goes to the executors (as it should!). As the manager, you’re more likely to be clapping on the sidelines than standing in the spotlight, and that can be hard to swallow for people who’ve recently transitioned from an individual contributor role.

9) You’re the “sh*t umbrella”

If you want to “run sh*t,” you have to deal with sh*t. “Sh*t umbrella” describes two essential functions of managers:

  1. Protecting your team from distractions so they can focus on execution.
  2. Doing the essential drudgery that no one else wants to do.
10) Your relationships change

If your company tends to promote from within, it’s probably a common scenario for people to become managers of their former peers or teammates … and that can be awkward. Because your relation to each other has changed, that means your relationship has to change as well. Peer-to-peer vent sessions and gut checks are suddenly off the table, replaced with formal one-on-one meetings and manager-employee feedback. Even if you’re not directly managing former peers, people have higher expectations of their leaders, which means you have to act accordingly both on and off your team.