The hardest thing I’ve ever encountered as a manager is:
Letting an employee go is never easy, but it’s even more unpleasant when the person is a workplace friend. I’ve been warned to not fraternize when in a management position, but truth is, that’s easier said than done. Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have friendships with those that report to me.
That said, I still have a job to do. As a manager, I need to care personally about each employee, but also need to provide appropriate challenges, opportunities for growth, and constructive feedback. The risk of turning a blind eye to an underperforming team member could cause team morale to plummet and the quality of work to suffer.
The hardest part: I wasn’t prepared to lose a friend. It’s very hard to predict how someone will react when they are let go. While I attempted to get back in touch after the fact, they chose not to maintain contact. That’s something I slowly accepted, but not before questioning, “did I do enough to keep this from happening?”
I miss the friendship and am reminded of it often, but know I made the right decision in the end.
If you’re thinking about moving into management, do this first:
One of the best ways to show that you’re ready for a leadership role is to take on small management tasks. Your willingness to do more than just fulfill your basic job description will make it known that you’re ready for more responsibility. Be proactive in asking your boss if there are any managerial tasks you can take off his or her plate—training new hires, managing an intern, or even facilitating a meeting.
Here’s a practical tip about managing:
Challenge each employee to excel in his or her own way and capitalize on what is unique about each person. This, in turn, builds a stronger sense of team by creating interdependence.
My manager heart is happy when:
I’m in a meeting and I can give credit to my direct reports for a job well done. While trusting direct reports is hard since I’m ultimately responsible for their output, it’s the job I signed up for. Especially in highly political organizations, people often get credit based on their power or seniority, not their actual contributions. It’s my job to change that, not just in private 1:1 settings but in public meetings as well.
While recognition from me is great, it’s an even prouder moment when members of upper management direct their praise appropriately to my direct reports, showing they too value their contributions. Great ideas without great people are irrelevant so it’s important to give credit where credit is due.
Want to attend a manager training where the attendees are thoughtful and strategic? Join us at an upcoming event… details here.