Management is something that had always seemed like natural progression in a person’s working life. Something that would almost be guaranteed as you move through life. Much like wrinkles, developing questionable taste in fashion or an inclination to carry boiled sweets on all occasions. I always thought that if you work long and hard enough, you’ll inevitably end up managing someone.
I’ve been the ‘Office Manager’ in several companies now. Most of the time, this has meant being manager of a department of three people. Me, myself and I. So yeah, one person. One person’s time to manage, one person to shoulder the workload with and one person accountable to me.
June 2016 this all changed. My workload had increased vastly over the 18 months I’d been in my role and something had to give. Luckily that something was the budget to recruit a second member of office staff, which I duly did.
Naively I thought that the hardest part was going to be imparting the knowledge I’d accrued over the past year and a half on to someone else. Often thinking ‘Ah, it’ll be quicker to do it myself than teach you how to do it’ and therefore never really making any progress in passing jobs over. How wrong I was. Not only was my newly acquired assistant astute and able but proactive as well. With just a bit of guidance she quickly picked up everything I threw at her and asked for more. My concerns were wholly unjustified and I haven’t looked back since.
What has been challenging however is my own development in my new role and recognising that the skill set needed for managing someone else is completely different to those needed for managing yourself. Most management skills are best learned on the job. You’re going to make mistakes. Embrace them and learn from them. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my experience so far.
Aim to be respected above being liked
- Almost everyone wants to be liked. That’s natural and it certainly helps grease the wheels when asking for a favour or when you have a special request to make. However, if you regularly choose being liked over being respected, you’ll find it increasingly hard to ensure your team accept your decisions. Which leads us on to…
Feedback – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
- I’m a nice person. I don’t like to upset people or cause them to feel bad. However, one important lesson I’ve learned is not to hold back when giving feedback for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. It doesn’t help you to build a strong team and it doesn’t help your team to develop to their fullest potential. You’re not doing them any favours, you’re simply trying to avoid feeling mean. Which given that feedback is generally given to help a staff member improve their work and or themselves is a rather selfish and self-defeating act.
Don’t worry if your management isn’t always needed
- Sometimes I offer help or advice to my assistant that she simply doesn’t need. She’s fine managing herself on this particular task. Rather than worrying that this means my management isn’t needed, I’ve come to realise that this simply means I’ve hired the right person for the job. This frees up even more of my time for my own work, which was the whole point of the hire in the first place.
Six months into my role as someone else’s manager and I’ve made some mistakes along the way, with more to make I’m sure, but mostly it’s been a great education. It’s looking likely I’ll be hiring and welcoming a third member into our small team in the first half of this year. I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned so far and no doubt discovering new lessons along the way.