Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp, recently wrote about how easy it is to be a bad manager. (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do. Managers will recognize their own experiences in his writing. If you’re planning to become a manager, it’ll give you a heads-up on what to look forward to. Spoiler alert: No matter how good you were at your previous job, as a manager you will be a beginner again!)
Fried notes that professional managers have typically spent most of their career doing something else and get promoted to management. In management, they have brand-new, complex situations to figure out. They also have to learn the enigma known as “people” and get good at knowing people react to situations they face. Fried’s summary of the “new manager” experience is accurate: “When you practice being a manager, you’re already on stage. Your flubs have consequences. Fucking up could cost you or someone else their job. It could cost a business money, customers, reputation.”
I shared Fried’s article with my team members, which led one of them to wonder: If you’re learning as you go as a new manager, and your mistakes could have big consequences like costing you or someone else their job…how do you prevent big mistakes (or at least catch them quickly)? How do you ensure your learning curve as a new manager doesn’t cost anyone a job?
Work expands to fill all time available for its completion
I’ve been thinking lately about time and deadlines. Do any of these sound familiar?
You go to a meeting scheduled for an hour. A project decision is made in the first fifteen minutes, and the next forty-five minutes are spent discussing and re-hashing that decision…only to then settle on the original decision.
Your software team works in two week sprints yet seems to scramble in the last several days of each sprint to finish the bulk of the work.
In a project with a deadline months away, the requested feature list continues to change and grow while the deadline remains the same.
These examples are all instances of Parkinson’s Law: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Read more
One of my favorite aspects of being a manager is coaching my employees to reach some of their big goals. I like learning about what motivates an employee and what their ambitions are. As a manager, I consider it my job to my employees to remove obstacles, push them when needed, and provide them with opportunities to reach their goals.
I have a postcard of Pot-Shots #571 by Ashleigh Brilliant hanging at my desk: “One possible reason why things aren’t going according to plan is that there never was a plan.” Working with a plan to hit goals doesn’t have to be overly cumbersome and complicated. Here is a strategy I use to drive my 1-on-1s with employees to help them identify their goals and take small steps regularly to reach them. Read more
I’ve read articles before that say you can choose to be a Tigger or an Eeyore in life. Personally, I don’t entirely believe that. I think my regular mood, like most people, is in between. Great days pull me to a Tigger mood and bad days pull me to Eeyore mood. But, if you ever see me being either Tigger or Eeyore 24/7 for weeks at a time, I think something has gone wrong. 🙂
I don’t believe you can always just “choose” to stop being unhappy, angry, or upset at work. I also don’t at all agree with wearing a mask all the time and pretending to be thrilled when you are upset. But, there are definitely things you can do to start breaking a sour mood when it hits you.
You don’t like being in a bad mood, and you’re hurting your team the longer you remain that way. So, here are some tips to break the funk.Read more
Introverts have a bad rep as socially awkward, shy, people-haters. That’s not exactly a good match-up of attributes for being a successful manager. I’ve spent most of my career as a computer programmer, a field that is not exactly known for being filled with gregarious extroverts. Before becoming a manager, I really questioned whether I would be happy and successful in a role that requires so much interaction with others. Thankfully, I’ve learned over time that there’s a big difference between the common myths of being an introvert and the realities. And, once I understood the realities, I learned how to better manage my energy levels to be a better manager. Here are some strategies for an introvert to keep their batteries charged during the workday to help be a great manager.