A Guest Post by Andrew Hall of Pounding the Pavement
When I was 20 years old, I was put in charge of an independent radio station. I been working for the station for several years in various capacities, but my new title was General Manager, and it was now my job to manage a team of people. Everything – from hiring, to ensuring that my station was playing good music, to facilitating communication with DJs and listeners – was now under my jurisdiction.
What I Learned as an Inexperienced Manager
Managing people (especially people who were older than I was) was initially a daunting thing. I struggled from time to time to make sure that everyone was on-task, and there were times when our productivity dropped because of my inexperience. It was most important that our music staff be always at the top of its game. That meant that everyone was responsible to let me (the manager) know when problems of any kind arose.
But that didn’t always happen. When someone became stressed out by the demands of the job, or by some other external factor, I’d notice that the incoming “to-do” pile would start to grow much faster than the outgoing “done” pile. When I wanted to take our business in a direction no one else agreed with, suddenly our answering machine would be flooded with unanswered messages. When dissatisfied with my leadership, our staffers simply weren’t getting as much done during their office hours.
Manage Others the Way You Would Want to Be Managed
I saw my friendships with my coworkers erode in real-time as our work year progressed, and I hated it. I hated the fact that we weren’t doing as well as we ought to be or could have been. And I hated the fact that I couldn’t find a solution.
Then I began to think about my own work experiences underneath managers I was unhappy with in order to find ways to change things. I thought about my frustrations working for people who didn’t want to move in the same directions I did, and how the quality of my work also progressively declined because of it.
If I didn’t resolve these issues of tension and resentment, nothing would change by itself. The lack of productivity would continue to be a problem. So, I decided I would reform my ways and strive to become the kind of manager I would want to work for.
Solicit Feedback (and actually take it into account too)
And as a consequence of my change of heart, I used my meeting times with my staffers in order to find out, more clearly, what they wanted to do, determine whether it was consistent with our goals as an organization, and how best to compromise when we both saw merit in the things we disagreed upon.
Open discussion was the key. It was through the kind of give-and-take that validates everyone’s input that we found ways to work through our problems. We talked through issues with efficiency and programming, and found ways to reorganize responsibilities to best play to the strengths of everyone on our team.
Building Trust Pays Off
My last four months in that organization were great: we put on better events, ran our best programming, and made people far more excited about our medium than they’d been in years. If anything made it happen, it was openness and a willingness for all of us to change.
Do you have any horror stories from your days as a novice manager? Common sense insights for those who aspire to be effective managers? Share your wisdom and speak up!
Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for the up-and-coming career blog, Pounding the Pavement. In his free time, Mr. Hall also tackles topics related to call center management for Guide to Career Education.