I’m going to admit right up front that I have absolutely no desire to be in any kind of management or administrative position where I’d have to deal with a large number of employees. I give the people who take on that kind of role all kinds of credit. I would guess you’d have to have some pretty thick skin or an unbelievable desire for power and authority to go after something like that. Of course it could just be that the money is good. I’m still not interested. You’d always have people like me second guessing every move you make!
Tips from a non-manager
Even though I don’t want a management position, I have no problem offering free advice and tips for managers from the perspective of an employee. I’ve spent a lot of time “being managed”, so I think I might have some worthwhile insights. I’m sure you do too, so feel free to add them in the comments section at the bottom of this post!
Today’s free tip is simple. Know when to back off a little bit. If you are in charge of a group of people, it is essential for you to realize that you can never really “manage” the actions of those people. The best you will be able to do with that approach is drive yourself crazy watching their every move like a hawk for eight hours every day. Who wants to do that? Rather than being a micromanaging dictator, try to learn a little bit about getting your employees motivated to do things on their own. I’ll write more posts about inspiring your employees to be self directed and motivated, but for right now, I want to mention a few things that you should NOT do to get what you want from the people working under you.
Things you should not do if you are in a management type of position:
- Don’t rule by fear. This is a great way to get yourself under the microscope. If you constantly threaten the people you are in charge of, you can bet that they will be more than happy to throw you under the proverbial bus the first time you mess up. No one likes being threatened and you will never get your employees to do any more than the least they can get away with. Being perfect is a full time job that you really don’t want.
- Stop micromanaging. Presumably, the people who were hired had some basic skills and qualifications when they were hired for the job. That means that they should be able to be trusted to think and perform on their own if they are given a little bit of room to move and function. If you hired incompetent people for the job, that is your fault. A decent hire should not need you looking over their shoulder and offering your input constantly. Let them show what they can do. When they do a good job, reward them. This might just be some verbal recognition, but it will go a lot further than standing over them and constantly butting in while they are trying to do a job. Micromanaging is also a great way to kill an employee’s creative spirit and any urge they have to improve themselves and their performance.
- Take responsibility. If you are the boss, don’t pass the buck. It’s OK if you screw up sometimes. You’re human. You might be surprised at how understanding people can be if you just admit that. On the other hand, if you mess up and everyone knows it, and you go on to blame someone else… Look out. You just lost the support and trust of everyone under your charge. When you signed on for that bigger paycheck and the private office, you also got a bunch of responsibility set squarely on YOUR shoulders. If your employees are messing up, look in the mirror first before you start blasting them.
- Don’t forget where you came from. I realize that managers have to act differently when they move up through the ranks and gain authority. That is a lame excuse though for managers who forget what their former job was actually like. If you can remember how difficult it was to keep up with a huge amount of paperwork while still trying to perform your job well, why in the world would you dump more paperwork on the people you are now managing? I remember hearing a lot of talk about becoming a paperless society a while back. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the paperwork seems to actually be increasing nowadays.
- Don’t play favorites. Maybe some management types don’t, but I think they’re pretty rare. If you have a favorite, the rest of your employees probably know about it. This can seriously damage any type of respect people in the office have for you.
I don’t have a business degree, so some people will read this and just shake their head thinking that I’m clueless about the art of management. The thing is, when you are in management, you ignore the thoughts and feelings of employees at your own peril. If you aren’t sure if you have been doing any of the above things, just go ask someone who works in your office. If they look uncomfortable when you ask, you have your answer and you don’t even need to force them into an answer.