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King Managers: Skills you should learn before losing time!

If you have not yet had the misfortune to work for an ineffective manager, I sincerely hope you do soon. Not because I’m mean. Rather, I’d really like you to experience what it means to have the wrong kind of support.

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing employers and extremely mature direct managers. And I have also been less-than-fortunate to have had one or two ineffective managers for shorter periods of time. For the record, I would not exchange those experiences for anything different.

That said, having the wrong kind of support really does make you think twice about what you experienced in the past, and what you can have in the future.

Let me share one memorable experience I had with an ineffective manager, and what I learned from it: This leader (who shall not be named) had been promoted because they were very successful as an individual contributor. Their ideal work day was well planned and executed precisely. Well, when you become a manager people look to you for direction and decision making. That means they will knock on your door, hmmm, pretty much all the time. Yes, I was one of those door-knockers. I was a curious young professional and wanted to have an emotional connection with my boss. So…with reasonable frequency, I would swing by now and then for direction and clarity. Boy, did I irritate that manager. Every single time! Usually, their first response was to sigh, followed by a cold, “Yes?” or, “How can I help you?” Over time, it became clear that this person saw me and others reaching out as an ‘interruption’ which, for me at least, created a sad and lonely feeling inside. Not good.

Being a manager is not an easy task. That said, being a manager, by definition, requires us to get results through others. For that, employees need to reach out. And let’s be clear: if you see that as an interruption, you are probably in the wrong job! ☺

The beauty of life, though, is that it allows us to gain perspective over time. If you consider yourself a people manager, or are interested in becoming a people manager, and you’re willing to learn to be as effective as possible in your role, I strongly recommend you learn the following skills first and foremost:

  1. To say, “I’m sorry,” when you make a mistake or touch someone’s heart in the wrong way,
  2. To admit, “I don’t know,” early on. This behavior, this ability to be honest with your co-workers to show vulnerability, if not learned early enough, can easily derail a career over time,
  3. To be available when people have a question or need further clarity,
  4. To listen, even at the expense of occasional work slowdowns. It’s always better to make time for your people.

You know, the name of this blog post – “King Managers” – comes from a kitchen talk. It’s what some of us call those managers who never admit to their mistakes. Want to know why? I’ll tell you more on Wednesday…


  • 4 July 2016

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