Why You Might Be a Terrible Manager

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I was out to dinner with my uncle the other night and he made a comment that made a lot of sense to me.  He said something to the effect that a manager’s ability to lead and work with others is often what leads to promotions and more success rather than knowing specific technical skills.

He cited the example of the new CIO at his company (a large utility provider) who does not have an IT background and openly admitted it during an intro speech to the company.  What he did have, though, was a proven track record of success and getting other people to help him with his plans.

An interesting thought.  You don’t need to be the smartest guy in the room.  What you need is to know how to look at the big picture and motivate a team.

So what is holding you back from being a better manager (just my opinion):

  • Getting angry that your employees aren’t more like you.
  • Not figuring out what motivates individual employees and the team
  • Not having anything for your employees to connect with – no goal, no mission, no “religion”
  • Not being the adult in the room
    • Not being on time
    • Talking bad about the company or other people
    • Not staying focused

There are more things that make a bad manager like a mean disposition, dishonesty, and incompetence, but there isn’t much you can do to change those characteristics.

But what you can do is:

  • Understand that your employees will never be just like you and that’s OK.
  • Learn about what motivates your employees – a sense of belonging, paying off the mortgage, getting promoted, etc…
  • Find a goal and hammer it home. Communicate what it is and stay on it.
  • Learn how to be more mature by being less sarcastic, not gossiping, and setting a good example.

There’s a line from the  book “The McKinsey Way” that has stuck with me, and if this is not exact that’s because I’m going from memory: “Work like it matters, because it does.” While many folks are frustrated with their jobs and like to daydream about the day when they have a better job, win the lottery, or retire, remember that life is happening right now so why not make the most of it.

Why not be focused at our jobs?  Why not find meaning from our work?  Why not give it our best effort?  It won’t be any fun to look back on a life that was filled with frustration.  It will feel a lot better to say to yourself that you worked like it mattered, because it did.

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