Monday, August 2, 2010

Managing 101 - What Not to Do

I tend to shy away from talking about work as some of my co-workers lurked around here from time to time. But with my blogging lull, I'm guessing that they've all gone on their merry way. And what the heck, it's my blog!

Like many people, I've worked for a myriad of managers over my career. Most have been good-hearted which tends to erase any managerial shortcomings. But there have been a few doozies over the years.

My first manager liked to stroll in around 9am, apply her make-up for the next 15 minutes before running out to grab some breakfast. She then spent the balance of her day huddled around the proverbial water cooler complaining about how overworked she was before exiting promptly at 4:30pm. She treated me with a sort of aloof disdain leaving my budding self esteem to wilt under her harsh gaze. When a new manager took over and treated me as though I was CEO potential for doing the exact same work, the skies seemed to part. Everything suddenly made sense and I was quickly promoted. It was then that I realized what a profound impact a manager can make on their employees!

Fast forward through a dozen or so managers across 2 more companies and I have learned a great deal about what to do and sometimes more importantly, what NOT to do as a leader. Which brings me to my latest experience. This one we'll put firmly in the what not to do column. Suffice it to say that my last manager made my first manager look like Mary Poppins. In fact, "boss" is a more appropriate term for her.

My boss would give unclear direction (if any at all) and then verbally abuse us for not delivering her expectations. She would push us for critiques of our co-workers, tell the individual a grossly exaggerated version of the conversation then berate us publicly for not working well together. When things went well, she would pass off our work as her own and when things went poorly, she would step quietly aside to watch us crash and burn. This past year has been a trying one but I was intent on doing my best, helping her succeed and sheltering my team from her craziness. Overall, I believe I accomplished my goals. She was uncharacteristically complimentary in my annual review despite giving me a rather lackluster rating. It was a disappointing end to the year but thankfully my efforts have led to a new job.

Believe me when I tell you dear internet friends that had I written this post a week ago, it would have taken a much uglier turn. But a wonderful vacation and a thought provoking sermon on Ephesians 4:31-32 (31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you) has softened my perspective. So at this point, I'm chalking this one up to just another life lesson of what not to do. And I hope it makes me a better manager as a result.


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