How many of you are managers or in upper positions in your companies? Do you ever feel as if the weight of the company falls on your shoulders? Do you know your employees? Can you honestly say that you are aware of the people under you and what their lives tend to reflect? If you struggle with these questions, you aren’t alone. Managers help to keep things running smoothly. There are good managers as well as bad managers. Many times, it seems that the bad managers are the ones who get the promotional opportunities, the recognition, and the most flack. But have you ever wondered what the managers have to go through?
I’ve worked in corporate jobs off and on for the last twenty years and I can truly attest that the corporate world is not one that made me happy. I didn’t kiss political butt. Therefore, moving up the ladder was more difficult for me. Now I have a position as a manager and for the most part I love it but just like everyone else, I see things that could be improved.
Managers are supposed to be able to communicate with their staff as to changes that are occurring within the company. That’s fine if the managers are aware of the changes but if a corporation doesn’t clue their managers in, then it’s more of a manager in title only situation. Here’s what I know. I know that communication is a MUST for every business to succeed. It not only helps the management staff know what’s going on, but it makes it easier for the managers to be able to relay to the staff changes that have occurred. Let me give you a prime example. Some companies let their employees know when a position opens up. Mine never does until they fill it. I think that’s one of the reasons that the company I work for doesn’t feel that communication is a necessity. They love to call themselves corporate even though they are no where near what a corporate office really is. When they work for larger conglomerates, they will learn that true corporate workings are no where near as unorganized as a smaller run company.
Listen – when we stop listening to each other then how are we supposed to know what problems exist and how they can be fixed? Managers help us by giving productive feedback. I’ve had a manager in my life that never could give a compliment to save her neck. At the time it devastated me. Now it fuels me to be a better manager. I learned to listen to feedback without reacting and sometimes that’s difficult. Yet, it’s a necessary tool for growth. As managers, we are expected to know our people and what’s going on with them. You don’t have to get personally involved with your employees but getting to know them can be crucial to getting them to function at their best potential.
Recognition – this is a term that managers are supposed to utilize frequently. In some of the bigger companies I worked for, things like employee of the month, birthdays, anniversaries, big events in people’s lives are acknowledged. There are many small companies that acknowledge these events as well. The one I work in doesn’t. Like I mentioned, they aren’t the typical company. We have two yearly functions where employees are encouraged to mingle with one another. Many of the stores have their favorite groups to hang with while the others are considered misfits. This happens in the corporate world too. So, how do good managers make other managers and staff feel appreciated?
Acknowledge each other. Not everyone is going to be on your favorite list but managers do make the difference. If you are over a department, how can you get your team to work better together? Intimidation? Sure, that works but at what cost? Not only do you risk losing vital members of the team, but there is a precedence that is set. Some of the best managers I ever worked for, made the team feel valued and that their opinion mattered. They were kind but firm. They didn’t feel the need to make someone feel insecure or unworthy. If a team member wasn’t performing well, they would take them aside and figure out how the member could contribute or if that member wasn’t a good fit, then they would have the task of either letting them go or finding a better fit for them. Not everything in this world is cut and dry. In fact, many times, there’s a lot of gray areas.
Ask questions. Don’t assume that management knows what the issues are. Many times, corporations will give surveys as to evaluation performances for the upper management. Do them. Especially if they are confidential. No one wants management to know if they are a whistle blower or not. But again, if management isn’t aware of the problems, how can they be addressed?
Take part in conversations. Look, I’m not telling you to butt into a conversation but if you are in a meeting and a question is asked to the group, don’t feel like you are an outcast if you answer. Learn to speak up. By taking part in conversations, you are showing initiatives. That’s crucial to success. There’s also another element. When you take part in conversation, you are allowing yourself to not only engage in other people’s perception, but you can choose whether or not to share your viewpoints. It may be the right or wrong time but unless you get involved in conversation, you’ll never know.
Never ever ever ever ever assume anything. I mentioned this before and it bears repeating. We all know what it means when that word is broken up into three parts. You may think that your job is secure but I can almost guarantee you that every one of us is replaceable for jobs. It’s important to work with your managers and/or your team as much as you can. One thing employees don’t always recognize is that problems roll downhill. Managers are often the first ones to take the heat for something that doesn’t go right. While we may not always understand what is happening with the managers and leaders in charge, their positions are not always stress free. In fact, it’s the opposite. Managers are often the ones who deal with the most stressful environments. They don’t usually hear that they are doing a great job but they are expected to make sure their team knows how they do with various projects. Evaluations are a very tough part of a managers job. Most managers have a certain amount of money that can be allocated from a company for raises. Often, those managers can not give the kind of raises they would like to because of direct orders from their superiors. So when employees do get a raise, most of the time it isn’t enough to satisfy them. This isn’t every company, but there are a lot of companies who do this.
Managers must have good time management skills. Your employees look to you for examples. A manager must be able to meet their own deadlines before he/she can expect their employees to meet theirs. It all comes down to organization, planning and execution of those plans. Time truly is money.
Remember managers are people too. It’s really easy to talk smack about managers. For those not in management positions, put yourself in their shoes. How would you handle situations? What would you do differently? Is your manager someone that you can talk to about more growing opportunities? Some managers are used to the world of micromanagement. In some ways, micro managers have become the catalyst for dread. I say this because many micro managers run things as a robot would. Everything is about numbers. The quality often lacks because there is more emphasis placed on how much can be done versus the quality of work. Quality is something that is becoming more extinct every year. There are corporations and companies that value quality over quantity but they are rare and disappearing rapidly. Treat everyone as if they matter. In the long run, your team reflects the quality of your work environment. It’s really hard to treat someone well when they are making your life a living hell. And I can guarantee you that there are some people in this world that you won’t ever get along with. But, how you treat them can be an effective tool towards showing other managers and staff that you are someone who represents your workplace well. Sometimes that’s just what managers need to see. It’s also important because managers help keep us on track just as we keep them on track.