Better management

I had opportunities to manage people in my various roles and becoming a manager was definitely a work-in-progress. Because I have been both a manager and an employee at different stages of my life, I’m pretty interested in what successful managers do that creates their successes.

I’m really enjoying this episode 76 of Debug about management. Some insights that appeal to me include –

  • Managers need to constantly watch for burnout and adopt tactics to avoid it or, failing that, alleviate it through varied projects, changing the pace and constantly talking to your team members.
  • Take an active interest in your team. Get to know them well enough to be able to pick up on negative trends (perhaps due to overwork or stress) before they become problems so you can address them constructively.
  • Being a manager doesn’t make you the king/queen. It doesn’t mean ruling by edict.

If I were to flip through a book on management best practices, I am sure I would find myself ticking off a number of the worst practices poor managers have adopted. The positive side of that is that it has given me a helpful perspective on how to do the job better (if I ever, hypothetically, found myself in a management role again). I have also learned a fair amount just being an employee.

One theme which fascinates me is finding a constructive balance between planning and metrics on the one hand, and allowing for a degree of flexibility and autonomy that is both empowering and helps employees achieve their targets. The challenge with too much planning and structure is that it can basically squeeze the creativity right out of your employees. On the other hand, your work must ultimately make a positive contribution to the company’s bottom line so a degree of planning and measurement is essential.

Most interesting, for me at least, is how even creative work like mine has to have some form of structure and must be measurable. After all, content marketing is supposed to help boost sales and there are often clearly defined success metrics you need to achieve even though the work itself may be relatively unstructured.

Image credit: The conductor by me, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0


3 responses to “Better management”

  1. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    Managers/Leaders need to be the most flexible of people and constantly adapt their approach based on who they’re working with.

    Young people or those who are less good and self management, need more guidance whereas more experienced people or those who are good at self management need less guidance.

    Ideally leaders/managers should try to be a shield for their team. Protect them from outsiders and other people who might get in their way or hold them back from producing great work. Sometimes this mean making the team coffee, buying them lunch or attending meetings where you get ripped apart and then going back to the team and being a nice person and not showing them how badly things went.

    Keeping negatively away from the team helps keep them focused but figuring out how to do that while remaining transparent is the tricky bit.

    I guess we’re all constantly in perpetual beta figuring out what works and what doesn’t. 🙂

  2. Paul avatar

    I like that perspective. It’s certainly one that stood out for me with my most recent managers. I definitely got the sense that they were doing their part to shield the team from external influences they felt would be counter-productive.

  3. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    It doesn’t always come naturally and sometimes it takes a lot of self control to not let the team know how what you went through in a meeting. 🙂

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