Using Your Results
Moving into a managerial position from a staff position is a big step. It's one you may want to undertake to expand your business skills, earn higher pay, or gain more satisfaction from your career. Know that your day-to-day tasks will change. If you once worked in solitude on well-defined projects, reporting only to your boss, as a manager your day will be filled with much more interaction with others, scheduling, planning, and, of course, meetings.
Just as you can pick up the skills necessary for your chosen career, you can learn how to be a manager, too. As noted previously, good managers are made, not born. Experience and training will help you develop your managerial skills. Look into some of these options.
Seminars and conferences conducted by organizations, such as the American Management Association (
College classes from big-name schools such as the Stanford Graduate School of Business (
If your company offers it, in-house management training is a resource you should take advantage of, if management is your goal.
Find a mentor. Make sure you find someone in the workplace who is an extremely good manager to be your mentor.
Online resources, such as the Gallup Management Journal (
Use your own experience in the workplace to guide your career as a manager. Everyone who has worked for any length of time has had both good and bad managers. Think about the traits you want to emulate, as well as the ones to disregard.
How to Be a Bad Manager
Think that people leave their jobs because they want more money? A 2001 study found that the number one reason people left was “poor supervisory behavior” (
A bad manager:
Does it all. Nobody knows the work like you do. If you delegate some portion of it to someone else, that person is bound to mess it up. Anyway, if someone else did do a good job on something, your boss might notice and take some responsibility away from you. If you have to delegate, dole out the mindless drudgery or make sure that everyone has to come to you for approval before they make one decision, no matter how minor.
Hogs the credit. Make sure your boss knows that you completed that project single-handedly and that all those brilliant ideas were yours and yours alone. If your staff protests, threaten them into silence. After all, you deserve that big promotion. Yes, it is all about you.
Punishes mistakes. You expect your staff to be perfect. Let them know that taking risks is bad. You told them it was a lame idea in the first place, didn't you? Make them feel ashamed for even trying. Punishment builds character.
Reprimands in public. Wait until the next staff meeting to ream out an underling for incompetence. You're sure everyone will agree with you, and the miscreant needs to be taught a lesson.
Is heartless. Call David “Fred,” ignore birthdays, and dock the pay of the woman who missed two days because of her husband's surgery. Treat your workers as drones with no personal lives or responsibilities. After all, bees are highly efficient workers, and they don't need to know everyone's name in the hive. But they do know who the queen bee is. Use intimidation to get your way. Mollycoddling is for weaklings.
Is isolated. Close your door so that no one can come to you with questions, problems, or their petty personal issues. Post a “Keep Out!” sign for good measure. You don't have time to wander around making yourself available to every Tom, Dick, or Nancy.
Is aloof. An air of aloofness will keep your staff from bringing up sensitive issues or difficulties. Intimidating them will also forestall their interacting with you in any way, thereby giving you more time to get your work done. You deserve respect because of your position. If you can get them to call you “Your Highness,” so much the better.
Admits no mistakes. You believe managers should be perfect — you certainly are — and you have all the answers. If by some chance you do make a mistake, find someone on whom to pin the blame. In that way, you won't tarnish your appearance of infallibility. What's important is being right. Being sorry is for suckers.
Tunes others out. Sometimes it sounds like so much yada, yada, yada. Nobody can possibly know as much about the project as you do, so continue typing that e-mail or shuffling those papers until the person stops talking and goes away. Certainly don't ask for anyone's input on major decisions.
Gives unclear direction. Say one thing and do another. Listen to the last person you talked to, then change your mind when someone new comes up with a different idea. It will keep your employees on their toes. Let your mantra be: “Just get it done.” If no one completely understands what you want, how can they tell you it's wrong? Assume they get it. Anyway, even if they don't, you can chew them out later for messing up. It's a win-win situation.
Micromanages. If you do delegate some small portion of the work to someone else, make sure you scrutinize every aspect of it. Be prepared to stay up late redoing everything they've done because it's probably wrong.
Lies. Tell your staff what they want to hear to shut them up, but keep the real information to yourself, especially the bad news. They couldn't handle the truth. Besides, warning them of impending layoffs only takes their attention away from the work.
Ignores the deadwood. There's too much paperwork involved in getting rid of those nonperformers. Keeping them on makes your department look bigger. If you had to let them go, who knows if you could replace them?
Is serious. Humor has no place in the office. You have responsibilities, and levity is an unwelcome distraction. Work is serious business. Wipe that smile off your face.
A Manager Is a Work in Progress
Some call managing an art form. Certainly it is a multifaceted skill that requires practice. Not everyone wants to do it, not everyone can do it, and even fewer can do it extremely well. Know that becoming a manager isn't going to happen overnight. It's unlikely that you'll be promoted straight from typist to head of a department. Rather, it's more likely to be an incremental process whereby you assume more and more responsibility, figure out how to delegate tasks, and learn the ropes gradually, progressively, and systematically. If you're lucky enough to have a mentoring manager yourself, you're in good hands. Learning how to manage is kind of like learning how to swim. If you have a good teacher, you won't get thrown into the deep end of the pool without a life preserver and told to paddle for your life — or drown. You'll have ample opportunity to test the waters in the shallow end. Before you know it, you'll be swimming like a pro.
Keep in mind that managing isn't for everyone — it may not even be right for you — nor is it the only way to get ahead in your career. Many enlightened companies, such as Charles Schwab and lots of high-tech firms, acknowledge and reward independent contributors just as they do managers. Once you've filled in your chart with the results from all of your tests, you'll know if becoming a manager is something you want to pursue.