I’ve been a writer for years, ever since I was kid dreaming up stories about goblins, spaceships and places I’d rather be. And I’ve been lucky enough to get paid for it—off and on—for the last 15 years or so. Most of the time it comes pretty easy to me.
But I’ve only been a manager for the last couple of years and while my track record for new hires is flawless (one-for-one, baby!), it’s the only part of my “management style” that is.
In short, this stuff is a lot harder than it looks. At least for me.
(I know, I know. This isn’t exactly the sort of thing that inspires confidence coming from someone who’s been writing these posts for more than a year now, but I think we know each other well enough by now to be completely honest with one another. Besides, you know how they say you learn more from your failures than your successes? Well, I definitely subscribe to that Failure University theory. Besides, it’s always best to play to your strengths.)
A good friend of mine, who’s also a much better manager than me, believes managers are born, not made. By extension, his argument is that—despite my new (and expensive) subscription to Harvard Business Review—I’m a lost cause.
I guess I manage the same way I parent: by being one of them. I love playing with my kids, getting in trouble with them and I’m often a bigger clown. It works great for two-year-old Harley, but not so much with 13-year-old Jasmine. The sober realization that they require two very different approaches dawned on me a while ago. I’m just having a hard time accepting it.
It’s the same with those who report to me. I don’t wanna be the boss guy. I wanna be the comrade, the co-worker, the lunch buddy. And I need to let that go. I know. I’ve having a hard time accepting that, too.
Author Alvin Toffler once said something about managers becoming what they most despise—bureaucrats, and I guess to a certain extent that’s true. And in that regard, maybe I am a lost cause.
Today’s post illustrates that, I suppose. See, every week I pontificate about the latest workplace survey or lecture you about all those disgruntled employees of yours. But today’s different. Enrollment season’s barreling down on us—along with the stress-saddled, calendar-riddled holidays. And as a so-called perfect storm sweeps over the East Coast, throwing employers, employees and maybe even an election into chaos, I felt like focusing on the human part of human resources.
So, I guess I’ll heed the words of baseball manager Casey Stengel, who infamously advised that, “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”