The last column produced several
emails from readers with little or no management experience who, due to
circumstances among them downsizing, have found themselves in the position
of having to “manage” others for the first time. The recurring theme
in all of these inquiries was that they did not have sufficient time to
accomplish their job and manage what others were doing as well.
These emails brought to mind the
story that Dave Thomas, the late founder of the Wendy’s fast food chain,
used to reveal about his early work habits. Dave admitted that he worked
very hard as a manager and tried to do everything and be everywhere at
once seldom stopping during his sixteen-hour shifts to take a break. One
day a faithful customer inquired of him “Dave, when are you going to
start running your business?” What the customer meant Dave recalled, “
Was that instead of me running the business the business was running
me.” “I needed to rely more on my staff and stop trying to do
everything myself.” By doing less and managing more Dave came to realize
that he could run his business more efficiently.
It’s an important lesson that many
of us never learn. In every field there are those who are so talented in
their jobs that someone gets the bright idea to promote them into
management without considering the consequences of the action. Managing
requires different skills then doing the job, but how many of us, upon
being promoted, were shipped off to some resort for three to four weeks to
develop skills in motivation, delegation, training and communication?
Being a manager means that instead of
just thinking about our own performance, we have to think about the
performance of the people who report to us. The cash applicator that
always finished her job on schedule now has to motivate others to do the
same. The credit analyst who carefully compiled and reviewed each file now
has to supervise a staff that may not have the same sense of pride in a
job well done.
Motivating people to do quality work
on time and within budget can be a real challenge, and it’s as much of a
specialty as any other kind of work a person may have previously done or
trained for. The essence of managing is working with and through other
people. One cannot program people, like computers, to carry out their
instructions. Managing is a fine art that must be learned. Former
President Dwight Eisenhower once defined management as “The art of
getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do
This can prove difficult for the new
manager to learn, because when a job isn’t going according to plan,
their first impulse is to take over and do the job themselves. Instead of
giving subordinates authority and accountability they often contribute to
the employees inability or slowness to learn.
The number one job of the manager,
regardless of environment, is training. We have to begin from the
employee’s skill level and train them continuously until they reach the
desired level we expect. A good manager does not burden the employee in
the beginning with high expectations and must recognize that being too
critical can curtail the development of employee self-confidence.
The following six things, we should
never forget, will help us be better managers:
Look in the Mirror:
If we want to succeed the first thing we need to do is evaluate ourselves
objectively. Where and what do we need to do to improve?
Write out what we want employees to be responsible for, and communicate it
to them clearly, so everyone knows what is expected and why.
We got here because management felt we were the best at what we do. We
need to share what we know, make suggestions, give advice, and help our
Praise good work and encourage initiative. Catch them doing something
right. Treat them like adults and don’t burden them with a lot of rules.
Let them develop their own ways of doing their job.
This can be the most difficult but we have to step back and let the
employees do their jobs. That’s what they are being paid for.
People do not work to their full potential. Give them more to do as soon
as they are ready. Don’t forget to add authority when increasing
Managing involves a different set of
skills then the ones we mastered in doing the job that led to our present
position. We have to relinquish some of the habits we’ve picked up and
learn some new ones if we want to stimulate and excite the people who
we’re asking to follow us.
I wish you well.
information is provided as information only and not legal advice.
Legal advice should be obtained from a competent, licensed attorney,
in good standing with the state bar association.