The Potential Pitfalls of Being a Manager
I just finished the new season of Borgen on Netflix.
One of the storylines in the show is about a female leader of the main Danish news organization who encounters trouble with her staff, who then take their grievances public on the Internet. Soon she is the target of trolls on Twitter and Facebook (I have also endured this, you can read about my experience from last year here).
The show made me think about the internal fortitude it takes to be a manager. After all, I was in management for the majority of my 20+ year career on Wall Street and in Corporate America.
Apparently, I am not the only one pondering the benefits and drawbacks of management. In fact, The Harvard Business Review just published an article on LinkedIn titled "What To Do When You Don't Want To Be A Manager Anymore," which you can find here.
We all know that having a great manager can not only aid your career but also raise your job satisfaction levels. However when I became a manager, I had no idea how hard it actually would be.
Being in management is usually a prerequisite to career progression; therefore, it was a goal of mine very early on in my career.
I first got the opportunity to manage people in my late 20s, when I had a team of ten people who ranged in age from younger to older than me. I admit I had no management experience or training, but I had a fantastic team of highly motivated individuals, and I had a boss who was a seasoned manager used to leading large organizations who gave me great advice.
Yet despite my great team and boss, I still struggled under the pressure of being a leader. Specifically, I found having the hard conversations extremely difficult.
To get the best out of people you need to coach them, give them your full attention and provide accurate feedback, and at that time, I was not good at delegating tasks or at being brutally honest about their performance.
My momma always told me that it was easier to catch bees with honey than vinegar, so I coddled and befriended my people, which is not what was required in the difficult environment after the financial crisis of 2008.
Later in my career, I functioned as a National Sales Manager for a talented team of salespeople, and we had a great time together and accomplished a lot of our strategic objectives.
However, this role also had significant challenges.
First off, my team was spread all across the country.
I learned very quickly that when you are in person with your employees, you have a much better pulse on performance and team chemistry than when you are remote. Due to the distance between us all, I usually would not find out about a problem until much too late. Then I would have to get on a plane to go deal with the situation. Not ideal.
It is also hard when you are responsible for people but have no influence to effect positive change. For instance, let’s say someone wants more compensation or certain clients. You go up the management chain to try to make this happen - to no avail. Then you have to go back to your employee, who may be a good friend, and tell them that it is not going to happen.
Now you have to deal with a disgruntled worker, which makes your job even more difficult. Imagine if this is your entire team that is now frustrated, yet you still have to make your goals.
Finally, my transition into a senior manager role took place over several years, which meant that I continued to have clients and other project-related responsibilities in addition to my full-time manager role.
THIS IS A HUGE RED FLAG. DO NOT AGREE TO DO THIS.
We all know that there is not enough time in the day, so why agree to take on more than you can handle? If you agree to take a management position, make sure that this job is your top and only priority. You will need the time to check in with your team, manage upwards and make sure that you are achieving your own goals.
Managing people takes skill, patience and experience, and to do it well will require 100% of your attention. Your people deserve that, and you do too.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have read books on management and required my bosses to send me to management training courses.
I would have had a personal coach to help me through the quagmire that is management in 21st-century Corporate America. I would have incorporated yoga and meditation much earlier in my life to be able to deal with the up and down management roller coaster.
That being said, I do believe that management experience is important for everyone in their career progression; however, you should be aware of the risks to your mental health before taking on a manager role.
If you missed last month's Social Musings by Austin podcast episode on Apple Podcasts, you can find it here.
In the episode, I perform my brand new, original short story titled “Abducted in Amsterdam: A Nightmare Scenario”, which is about a European business meeting gone horribly wrong.
I also just dropped a video version of this gripping tale on my Social Musings by Austin YouTube Channel, which can be found here.
At Social Musings by Austin, I want to entertain, inspire and help others achieve more fulfillment in their life.
While this story is a work of fiction and meant to entertain, it is based on an actual nightmare I experienced when I was traveling over in The Netherlands earlier this year. When I woke up terrified and drenched in sweat, I decided to write a story about my dream.
Another impetus to write the story is that I also have heard numerous troubling stories recently about friends being drugged while out in downtown Austin, and I wanted to to call attention to this emerging threat to all of our safety.
Please be careful out there, wherever you may be in the world.
This episode also features the studio recording of my original song, “I’m Lost," or you can listen to special Uvalde Memorial edition on my SoundCloud here.
Stay tuned for more fresh, original content coming your way soon.
Have a wonderful rest of your week and weekend.