The managerial position demands responsibility and accountability. A manager is responsible for the growth, happiness, and performance of the people in his/her team. And at the same time, they’re accountable to the companies for the result and growth.
Not many companies and individuals realize that this is a powerful place to be in. Today 89% of the Indian working population is stressed and bad managers account for the second-largest reason for stress; first being the undefined goals. These numbers are shocking. And I don’t know how much are we working towards solving them.
But I do know that every single person can learn to be a good manager.
When I began my journey, I wasn’t really a good manager, not because I didn’t have people skills but I did not know how to balance the work, the deadlines, the personal space, and the professional dynamism. It is a lot to handle when you are actually managing it. And no, we are not trained for this.
From being not so likable to becoming a loved manager, I learned:
Set the right expectation within your team. It’s important to let everyone know what behaviors are acceptable and what isn’t. Every team has a different dynamic and you can set them up in your team. The expectations that I set within my team are really simple; we follow three golden rules:
We all have different working styles. We all are different people. And it’s really important to understand what sits well and what is an absolute no-go area of people you work with. It just makes working easier. My no-go area is anyone shouting at me or making stupid excuses for missing deadlines. And my team has always known that. It really does make working easier.
When you let your team’s capabilities grow, you have to have a capacity of accepting mistakes.There is no way that you can spoon-feed them. So, when a team member is taking on new responsibilities, mistakes are bound to happen. Also, there will betimes when you will miss deadlines for unforeseen reasons and things will go wrong. This is the time when you stand for your team instead of blaming them. I cannot even begin to tell you how I despise managers who blame their team.
I have never been good at this style of management. Everyone is an adult and is well aware of their actions. Why do we need to manage their every minute,or every task? This kind of management style is responsible to kill creativity and happiness within people at work.
In our team, we just create monthly deliverables and set a timeline against each of them. Now it’s up to a person how they want to work. We have had days where people have worked 12 hours straight and on other days they have come and said, I don’t want to work today. And it is all right! Till the time they are meeting deadlines and quality, does anything else matters?
It really appalls to me put this point here. The most obvious thing is what most of us miss out on. The most fundamental quality of human existence is our ability to be compassionate. Don’t disturb people when they are on vacation,check on them when they are sick, congratulate and celebrate the small wins,appreciate efforts, talk to them about life, be approachable; basically, be human and not a robot. If you can't build a relationship, you can never be a good manager.
There are unknown hiccups on our work journey. The field of marketing is extremely fast-paced and we have insane deadlines. I know, all other departments have their own challenges. So, we all hit roadblocks, and in those times, instead of asking 'who was responsible for this?' if we ask 'okay,people how do we solve this?', the problems become small and the team energy is so high that we sail through.
Being approachable is so important. I cannot even stress the importance of this one single characteristic. Your team should feel like they can talk to you about their personal and professional problems. Encourage a culture, where people can ask for help. It’s important to make efforts to let people know that they can talk. We had random get-together, once a month instead of stand-up, we would just talk and talk. During COVID, we would just do every day 20 minutes online exercise together.
No one is always right. Sometimes you can be frustrated, not in the right mind frame, or you can end up making mistakes. We all are humans and we make errors. This is not really the problem. The thing is that we do not apologize. If you have made a mistake, walk up to your team and say sorry. Be genuine and mean it.
Not everyone in the team will always be up for all kinds of tasks. I am not asking you to be submissive and accept any unethical demands. But be aware that if a team member is extremely demotivated for a certain task you could have someone else do it. If a person is unwilling there is no way that you will get good work, in fact, it will be below standards and you will have to eventually rework on it. Obviously, you should motivate your team but sometimes you can just let it go.
When you are dead strict about performance, deadlines - people, in general, don’t tend to like you. I have had so many colleagues in my career walk up to me and ask that‘don’t you worry what people think of you?’ and my answer has always been 'NO'.I wasn’t given a role to be liked by people, I was given this role to perform and make my team grow. You cannot control what others think about you and you shouldn’t even bother. Sometimes, it’s important to be a bad cop and ask people hard questions or to bring the attitude in alignment with the team dynamics. In the short run, the team might not be really fond of you, but in a long run, the respect and love that you earn are unimaginable.
Being a good manager is a learning curve and everyone can learn it. Of course, it's not really easy, it's exhausting, demanding, and needs courage beyond your work skills. It pains me to see how ignorance in managers can easily break the confidence of people in their team. People don’t quit companies, people quit bad managers. So, let's be mindful of our actions and build a happier work culture.
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