If only I knew

So this was my first managerial job and I got selected after a heated discussion in which I lost my cool, being the hothead I was. First day on the job I realised I had two senior people to manage along with a fresher and two peers – all of them new to the company just like I was. Intimidating since I knew some of them by reputation and felt these guys probably knew more about the job than I did. A series of high level meetings with managers from other regions and the top honchos left me with a complete understanding of the company’s vision, mission and future road map.

Back at base I called my team together and passed on my company’s mission statement and what our goals were. I made a huge poster and slapped it on the wall for everyone to remember it. I had one-on-one meetings with each team member to understand why they took on their role, what really interested them and tried understanding their motivation. I insisted on the following:

a)Daily brainstorming meetings before we began the day’s work so each member of the team knew what the other was up to

b)The team had to be reachable on phone

c) Work would wind up by 5 every evening

d)I would deal with the top management while the team focused on getting their work done

First month into the job and we were already battle scarred! Two of the team members could barely get along and wanted the same roles & responsibilities. I was busy trying to resolve their conflicts and ensuring the team was on the ball I never got around to interacting with managers and team members from other regions. I was busy ensuring my team had a solid rep that I fought their battles with top management slowly ingraining a Us vs Them culture. I wanted to be their friend resulting in people taking leave quite often and lower productivity. I did not want to get involved in office politics so I seldom met with the administrative or sales staff.

Eight months later I was up to my neck with conflicts within the team; senior members directly interacted with top management and I was given the impression during a review meeting that I did not run a tight ship and a junior team member resigned since the conflicts demotivated her. I quit shortly afterwards, miserable and low on confidence.

Of course, I had several managerial stints later during my career but they were riddled with challenges such as these. Now I only wish I had found a mentor much earlier in my career who would have warned me of the pitfalls of getting too close, too soon; of not interacting with peers in other departments; of not looking for developmental mentors; etc, etc…

Recently, I read Lineback and Hillman’s Being A Boss and it was an eye opener. The book is filled with valuable insights on tips and tricks for first-time managers to practice avoiding the snake pits of a corporate life. The authors recognize the role of the Boss in shaping the outcome of teams and organisations through their power to influence others and using the power of the network to grow.

According to the authors, the three imperatives of Being a Boss:

  • Manage Yourself
  • Manage Your Network
  • Manage Your Team

Hill and Lineback’s model of managing self, network and team is a great way for new managers to break the overwhelming task of management. The purpose of this book is to help a manager understand how to be an instrument to get work done and contribute to the organization. At the core, this book seeks to answer one crucial question: How to Exert Influence?

Influence is at the key of persuading your team to work towards organizational goals or achieving a business outcome. Many managers think their lack of knowledge, experience or skill especially ability to manage time becomes a hindrance to becoming an effective manager.

Imperative One: Learn that management isn’t about getting things done yourself. It’s about accomplishing things through others.

Imperative Two: Understand how power and influence work in your organization and build a network of mutually beneficial relationships to navigate your company’s complex political environment.

Imperative Three: Build a high-performing team out of all the individuals who report to you.

If you are serious about evolving into a good manager from a greenhorn and becoming a great manager who leads through example this is just the book for you.

I only wish I had read this much earlier……

 

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4 thoughts on “If only I knew

  1. Great reading. This is why they say as a Boss you should never try to befriend your subordinates. I remember, once I refused FB friend request of a new joinee, who was deputed under me and the girl in question inquired about the same few days later. I told her it was in her best interest that I do not know all her glory details, which I told her, I may be tempted to use against her in case of differences of opinion. At the same time i told her I shall gladly accept her friends request on LinkedIn and as for FB, only when she and I are not working in the same company. I too learned this the hard way, just like you, when on my first stint as a manager more than befriend one of my subordinate, only to end up with bad blood. Now, today, I understand, why all my bosses mostly remained aloof despite my best effort to become friendly with them. This is true when you are supposed to review their work, at the end of every quarter, and you are forced to take a reality check on their performance.

  2. Well.. reading your blog after a long time, Preeti.. and a time well spent, must say! Thank you for sharing such life lessons, it means so much more for many of us budding managers. :) I hope to get a copy of the suggested book and find a lil’ corner to gobble it up… though I beg to differ with you for once, you are a great manager with good people skills… may be you got the wrong herd of sheep to tend to.. :) Adios..!

  3. @guruvardhan, mon ami it’s made my day reading your kind comments. Heartfelt thanks. Happy you found time and decided to read the blog. Apologies for the tardy response though since I was busy charting out the new course to life. More about it in the post, now I hope that brings you back;)

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