It's a Long Game
We’ve been managers ourselves in a multitude of environments and industries over the years, and we work with managers all the time. We understand from experience, and genuinely appreciate how challenging it is to be responsible for translating the direction of leadership into action. So, given our background, you might wonder what the most important thing is that we’ve learned about management? It’s quite simple…
There are NO shortcuts to being an effective manager.
Think back to when you started out in your chosen career as an employee ‘on the floor’. The opportunity to someday be promoted to a management role was something a lot of us dreamed of. Being recognized as someone who has what it takes to lead a team, working our way up the ladder, and proving our value was the road to success.
Managing a team is an amazing opportunity. However, what a lot of us are unaware of going in, and frankly what leadership often underestimates is the amount of skill, grit, and day-in/day-out effort being an effective manager requires.
It’s important to understand the reality of being a manager. It’s not easy. It’s the hard work you need to do, after you thought the hard work was done. A manager must show up beside their team because that’s their responsibility.
Going where it can be uncomfortable and consistently linking the team’s goals with the organization’s vision. Clarity, communication, and empathy are all necessary, but none of them happen without effort. And none of them are ‘one and done’.
Not every day will go smoothly. In fact, very few will go smoothly. That’s part of the job. The goal is to set ego aside, make room for forgiveness, learn from the team, and begin again. It’s not glamorous. But it is rewarding. If the team knows you’ve got their backs, they will have yours. To the end.
Continue to Learn
Often employees are promoted into management roles and expected to be successful because they were good at their former jobs. But that’s not a given. Management is a specific skill set, and a person doesn’t magically develop it upon promotion.
They should have a suitable temperament and personality, but like any other discipline or vocation there is learning, and best practices involved. Even for experienced managers, continuous improvement is the name of the game. Placing someone into a management role without an expectation of continued learning and development is the surest way to undermine their success.
Stick with It
Despite what LinkedIn and other social media may lead us to believe, you don’t become the best of the best overnight. And you won’t receive a trophy just for playing. Balancing time, resources, and people in order to achieve organizational goals isn’t a cakewalk. Management is a grind. It requires perseverance and the only way to get good, is to practice.
Managers need to invest in themselves, and their leadership needs to invest in whatever it takes to build and support them because it doesn’t happen organically. Strong managers are an intentional investment.
"A key to achieving success is to assemble a strong and stable management team." Vivek Wadhwa
"Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet." Henry Mintzberg