When I had my first child, the oddest thing to me was that you could inherit this much responsibility with almost no preparation. Those first few months were a little rough and terrifying, but after having successfully navigated all the intricacies, you emerge on the other side as a parenting expert, right?
I equate this process to management not because I feel like subordinates are like children, but rather because how you develop as a parent can be similar to developing as a manager. You can read every book beforehand to prepare, but learning to manage is a journey that evolves as you have more experience doing it, and can offer new challenges with every new personality type or skillset you encounter. Most importantly, just like parenting there is never one “right” answer.
My management philosophy is a result of both how I like to be managed and what is rewarding to me as a manager. This is likely because I have always tried to form my opinions and judgements based on viewing things from the other persons perspective. It is important to me that I manage others in a way that I would like to be treated if the tables were turned.
My philosophy begins in a foundation of trust. If you are hired to be responsible for a specific area of the business, then I trust that you do not need me to tell you how to do that job. It is rather important for me as a manager to explain to you what is the goal or outcome that I expect and trust that you will get me there.
The second tenant of my philosophy is engagement. Understanding the intricacies of the job is important to me so I can have empathy for the struggles and truly grasp the the importance of the successes. It also allows me to gauge someone’s passion for a specific project which can be valuable insight in future planning. While it is impossible to understand every detail of every role, it is important for me to be engaged enough to relate to those around me and know where I can help.
The last part, and is what is most rewarding for me, is seeing others be successful. I feel it is a managers job to set other’s up for success, by leveraging their strengths and their passions when an opportunity arises. Roles should not be set in stone but rather flexible for the overall success of the team. While I appreciate a fighting spirit of an individual to improve their weaknesses, I do accept that some people are just naturally better than others at certain things, and in turn will focus most of their passion in these areas.
I am not an avid reader of management focused books, articles, or podcasts nor have I received any specific direction on the best way to manage people. What I have done is observed those around me throughout my career, recognized when the best work was done, and made mental notes about why that person was so successful. I’ve also had a variety of managers under which I have felt rather disengaged or fully inspired, which is very telling because I have always been the same person with the same desire to do my best.
While I’m sure my management philosophy will change over time as I encounter different types of people and situations, I was always look back on these three virtues to guide me in my growth.