How many of us have a manager? Tons. How many of us want to be a manager? Fewer. How many of us fantasize about being a better manager than the one we currently have? All of us.
So what does it mean to be a manager? This may be somewhat specific to the individual, but I’ve called out a few key points that truly get to the heart of what being a manager means.
Working for Others
This may seem counter-intuitive, but managing a team truly means that you work for them. The most efficient use of this is to spend your time listening to your team to find out what currently stands in the way of completing work in a more efficient manner.
The Buck Stops Here
It’s SO easy in our work lives to hear our managers grumble about how a project is moving fast enough or had errors that caused issues. The phrase “Shit roles downhill” shouldn’t be something you tell yourself after chiding a direct report. In those moments when you feel your next/only option is to pass the tongue lashing you received, I refer you to the previous point. Listen to your team member to learn why it’s running behind or had mistakes. What’s the underlying issue. Take this information, and if necessary, synthesize it for your management team to help them understand the hurdles currently being faced.
One of the best and worst parts of being a manager is being a key decision maker. Obviously, you want to spend time weighing options and hearing from key people to provide proper input into the decision; however, at the end of the day, you need to choose one option and stick with it. Sometimes this means later changing due to unforeseen influences, but at least you tried something. You provided clear, consistent direction, and you should be proud of those moments.
Lead Your Team
Each of these words are so important. Leading is key as a manager and has so many connotations of what it takes to be a leader. That alone is it’s own post. Take ownership of the team. Their successes are your successes. Their mistakes are your mistakes. It’s up to you to help them understand their role and live in it successfully. Being part of a team is so rewarding. My best advice on how to show a team you live as part of them rather than “above” them is to practice. Practice living the idea that any successes belong to “we” and any failures belong to “me.” Once a team believes you have their back, they are willing to go a lot further to help that we stay successful.
Managing a team is so rewarding when everything meshes. If it doesn’t, go back to your roots. Read through these ideas above. Try your hardest to practice these every day. If a team sees a change in you, they’re more willing to change themselves to match the new team dynamic.
What do you love most about being a manager? What is the most challenging? Have any questions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.