2 Ways to Learn to Manage

October 8, 2014

Photo Credit: tec_estromberg via Compfight cc

At some point in your career, you make the jump from doing stuff to managing people who do stuff. Many times it’s even before you have the term manager in your title. More often than not, you still do a bunch of stuff while having others help you do your stuff.

Everyone has a different management style. Everyone wants to be managed differently. I don’t think there is a right way to be a manager but I do think there are two ways to figure out what kind of manager you should be.

Find Someone You Respect and Follow

Hopefully you’ve seen a few people manage. It’s even better if you’ve had a bunch of managers. What did you like about each of them? How was it to be managed by them? (If it wasn’t a good experience, wait for option #2.)

In the consulting business, you end up with a bunch of managers. I’ve heard the term matrix management - you report to a bunch of people at the same time. As a result, I’ve been able to see a variety of management techniques to pick and choose what I saw working.

Early on in my career, I met Gary who greatly influenced the manager that I am today. He fought for his employees, he always remained calm no matter the stress of the situation, and that reflected in the team that he managed.

Often when I’m in a new management situation, I think back to what would Gary do?

Find An Ineffective Manager and Do The Opposite

When we first promoted people to manager, I often see an odd effect. There are a group of new managers who decide to fix all of the ways they were managed poorly. And a group of people who - much like hazing - want to treat their team the same way they were treated.

I don’t agree with the later. As new managers, you have an opportunity to change the culture and build a stronger team. Think about the poor management characteristics and change them. If you believe that you’re managing the way you would want to be managed, your team should appreciate it.

And a happy team is a successful team.

Who do you emulate?