Here we are, at the end of another year. Up to this point, these blog postings have been about the many challenges managers face and deal with constantly. You would have read in an earlier column that, over the next ten years, being a manager will be one of the most difficult and stressful occupations.
Why? There will be more generational diversity in the workforce than ever in history, with each generation having distinctive values and priorities. There is an extreme focus on personal fulfillment that appears to be creating “me” generations. Global financial issues, volatile markets and operating costs are requiring businesses of all sizes to become leaner.
Our education systems are not always preparing students for the real world of work. Many subjects being taught are not current or the curricula of relevant subjects are out of date, most school technologies are antiquated, and there is a critical lack of focus on behavioral issues such as responsibility, accountability and professionalism.
Nevertheless, there is still reason for optimism. Managing has many wonderful benefits and It can be one of the most satisfying things you will ever choose. As we slide into 2013, let’s focus on the positive aspects of leadership.
Since this is the time of year for lists, here are seven benefits of being a manager:
- The enjoyment you feel when you have helped someone grow and succeed. You have been a part of helping someone realize their happiness and dreams;
- You are part of creating an environment where people can do their best work. Great managers create team environments that make it easy for smart people to do good things;
- Animal lovers who care deeply about pets and wildlife will do whatever they can to optimize their health and well-being. Great managers care deeply about their staff, and go out of their way to protect, train, care for, and reward each member of the team;
- A manager’s primary responsibility is to prepare others for management positions. To see someone you have coached reach higher levels is a most satisfying experience;
- We all have weaknesses and great managers know their liabilities. I pity the manager who thinks hiring bright people is threatening. Having the ability, and courage, to hire people who are smarter or better in certain areas, then empower them to take over, will pay great dividends;
- Great managers will not back down from a purposeful fight. They will stake their reputation on a principle and stand up to bureaucracy, unfairness, or an unreasonable customer. Even if they lose, if it was the right thing to do, the good feeling will last a lifetime;
- It sometimes happens that employees have not been treated properly by another manager or the organization. Great leaders ensure justice prevails, doing their best to correct mistakes that have caused other employees to suffer;
As managers, please remember, you are always affecting others lives, sometimes for good, others times less so, and you may never know.
Recently, I attended the funeral of a manager I had managed at a large corporation in the 1970’s. I was so pleased when his wife recognized me and said, “You are probably not aware of this, but you saved our marriage, enabled our sons to grow up and get a good education and contributed to the wonderful life we enjoyed.”
Once I recovered from the magnitude of her compliment, she continued to say that prior to my taking over as manager, her husband was about to quit his job because he believed the previous manager had a negative opinion about him and his abilities and was giving him a hard time.
Alternatively, my management approach was to be a coach. I expected him to be great, gave him the proper tools and resources to do his job and as a result, he excelled. Within 18 months, I promoted him. He then had the confidence to develop into one of our best employees. I never knew the extent of the positive impact until he died.
My question for managers this week: “What are you doing to positively impact the future of the people you lead and manage?”
For 2013, I welcome your input on these topics and other issues you would like this column to address or you may submit your personal management dilemmas or questions on which you would like insight. To each of you, your family and colleagues, all the best in the New Year.