So, you want to manage?
There comes a time in many people’s career where they look at what they are currently doing and compare it to what they feel they want to do next. Often times the next step is going from being managed by others to becoming a manager.
For most of us, when we think of management, we are thinking the management of people. However, there is also the path of managing processes or procedures. For instance, a one-man shipping department doesn’t manage others, but the process of shipping. Management in this sense is somewhat easier but it requires specific expertise of the job at hand and the attitude to accomplish the job to the required standards. For those who like the lure of advancement but don’t want the complexities of managing others, this is a very good option.
Managing others however, is much more complex. It is easy to look at management and see the perceived “up side;” perhaps more pay, access to owners/leaders, the ability to pass off less desired tasks, and control. Heady thoughts for some to be sure! However management on the whole is a fairly complex undertaking that while everyone thinks they can do it, many find it’s not what they thought. Here are three misconceptions of what management is versus what we think it is:
1) Management is complex. As soon as you enter the role of management, you enter into a whole new world now governed by laws by which you need to abide. When you were managed, you didn’t need to worry so much about employment law. Now that you manage, you do. In addition to navigating new rules, regulations and laws you have also entered into middle management. Middle management is very aptly named as you manage the people below you, while being managed by those above you. It looks easy from below especially if you have been blessed by working for good middle managers, but it is often a complex dance of accountability, politics and control. Think of an Oreo cookie. You’re the creamy white filling!
2) Management is administration. One element of management that no one likes to talk about is paperwork. There is much more paperwork and documentation required than many realize. Because middle managers are just that- in the middle- they need to make sure that tasks and goals are being accomplished. This requires keeping track of goals, actuals, gaps in process and who is performing and who is not. In the event that there are tough and sensitive conversations that are had, those too need to be documented. Often times the administration or “paperwork” is done after hours, on the weekends, or whenever you can squeeze it in during day. If you have a team of folks working for you, your time is not your own during regular business hours, and the paperwork still needs to get done.
3) Management means change. If you get promoted, congratulations! Now, be ready for reality. The reality is that not everyone will be excited for you, but some will be for sure. Going from one-of-the-gang to leading the team is a change that many are not well prepared to do without some coaching. First, the dynamics in your relationships just changed from a “trusted peer” to something different. It’s natural and frankly, healthy. Second, you went from someone who may have jumped in and complained about management in the past, to now being management! Third, the people you have enjoyed as peers are now the very people you have to hold accountable for results. Mentally, you have to make the shift that will allow you to establish objectivity as well as subjectivity with those who work for you.
You may be asking why should I go into management if all of this sounds so negative? Because it isn’t. However, it is reality. The positive parts of managing others significantly out weigh the negative if done well. Leading others provides you some very “cool” moments as well, like:
1) Accomplishing goals
2) Leading change
3) Developing others
4) Creating experiences
5) Contributing to successes
6) Leading teams, doing great work
7) Participating in the success of the business
8) Promoting others
9) Acknowledging the work of others
10) Pride in your group of co-workers
Organizations need good managers. It requires people who want to dig deep within themselves and decide it they want to take the next step of personal development and risk.
The secret to great managers is that it isn’t about them, rather about how they contributed to the success of others.