Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Note About Managing People

There are a few things I have learned about managing other people throughout the course of my working career. I have learned a few of these lessons more than once, sometimes because I watched multiple managers stumble into the traps they set for themselves and sometimes because I made the mistake while managing and learned, then watched someone else do it poorly as well. 

There are good and bad ways to get what you want in any endeavor. Managing people is no different. The exception is the damage you face when you refuse to acknowledge how awful you are at it and that the common problem is you.

This is a quick super huge, long list of how to handle the manager/subordinate position, should you find yourself in the manager role:

1. Manage people. They are your most valuable asset and if treated with respect, they can do amazing things while making you look good.

2. Don't micro-manage people. Give tasks, answer questions, trust that they are adults and know what they are doing. They have a job to do and so do you. If you find you are too busy, look to see if you do this.

3. Do not expect that anyone is going to do anything exactly like you do it. If it's getting done and getting done in the right time frame with the right results, accept that maybe your way is just that. YOUR way. Not the only way.

4. Stop talking about people behind their back. No one respects a gossip. It looks terrible on you and on the organization. You are a professional. Act like one.

5. Tell the truth. Don't ever get caught in a lie with someone who reports to you. The relationship will suffer for the remainder of the time you work together.

6. Treat everyone equally. Do not let someone waltz in late every day without comment only to dress down someone who had to be a few minutes late one day. Don't decide that some people have to go to lunch at a certain time and buddy up with someone else. Yes, you are the boss and you make the rules. You also create the culture. If it is a culture of back stabbing and resentment, look carefully at what you are doing to create that.

7. Keep people informed, telling them what is going on and what they need to know, rather than issuing edicts declaring your 'new rule'. The rule will not stick, you will keep re-making rules that no one follows and the process will repeat in an endless cycle.

8. Enforce policies with your own actions. If lunch is a half hour or an hour, then be sure to not abuse it yourself. It only sets up resentment and acting out by others.

9. Know what you are talking about. Know the jobs and responsibilities of those you hire and manage. Educate yourself on what they do. Educate yourself on leadership and management. If you are going to be at the top, make sure they have something to look up to.

10. Mentor people. One of your primary functions is to attract, hire and retain the best person for the position. So if you have someone doing well, encourage them to do even better. If you have someone struggling, set up a plan of action to get them where they need to be and communicate the problem. Don't gossip about it to others. (See #4).

11. Do not make disparaging remarks about anyone's gender, race, nationality, religion, creed, orientation, age, hair color, style, etc. and do NOT ask anyone if they are gay. Ever. If the thought occurs to you to ask, take a long look in the mirror and think about how you would like to be unemployed. This should really be number one. Or, you know, not need to be on the list.

12. Do your damn job. If you are supposed to do annual performance reviews, schedule them and do them. Don't make excuses about how you are too busy. No one cares.

13. Do not complain to the lowly secretary about your troubles. She takes home 1/3 of your salary and is in no mood to listen to how bad you have it.

14.Do not talk badly about your boss. Watching you make bitter comments about your boss is not something that will inspire your subordinates to do differently. Remember that.

15. Let go of the small stuff. If it is important, deal with it directly, and with the person you need to talk to. Don't get crazy about every little thing, then your people will just ignore you.

16. Do not go around interrupting every conversation to get 'in the loop'. You are just swinging your dick around attempting to make it look like authority. Your insecurity is showing, you might want to hit the restroom and deal with that real quick.

17. Your job is not to be well liked, but it doesn't hurt. Gain respect by treating people with honesty and fairness. Let your integrity shine through in all you do. They may not want to get a drink with you but they won't have much to say bad about you either.

18. Do not stand in the way of progress. You will continually be hiring and training the next bright young things. Don't be afraid, get yourself educated on the technology, use it and don't be afraid of someone being better at it. You aren't the only one doing the teaching sometimes and that is good for everyone.

19. Don't stand in the way of an individual's progress either. Don't put up ridiculous roadblocks or pretend you didn't get a request. Don't disparage someone so that you can keep them in their place because you are codependent. They will move on, with or without your blessing. What they say about you within the industry when they leave should matter to you.

20. Let it go. Even at the top, no one gets paid enough to work around the clock. Don't take things so personally that you lose sight of what you are doing or have no down time. You took this job because you thought you could do good things. You had goals and visions. There will be setbacks. Never forget that you are more than the bad days and everyone is looking to you to see how to deal and move forward. Make sure they have something good to watch.


  1. Not to be an asshole, but I think so much of this is common sense and it baffles my mind when I think about how few people implement these simple practices. Treating people as though they are valuable seems so obvious to me! When you treat people well they will work harder for you yet so many of the people I've worked for have been awful to their staff. Once again, can you come work at my office? We need more people like this in life in general. Great list.

  2. You are not an asshole at all.. this really is common sense. Or I thought it was... I wish I could come to work at your office, but then all the smarts in one place? We'd burn it down with ambition! Thanks for reading :)