I’m a firm believer that being a good manager has much in common with being a good parent. Herewith, Mommy Management with a Trixie Twist:
- Be firm
Successful parenting and successful management include being clear about boundaries and expectations.My kids have never been allowed even a modicum of backtalk. 19 years of motherhood later, I have yet to experience any sassing, because I nipped that shit in the bud the very first instance. My offspring treat me with respect and YES they are afraid of me and my authori-TAY.
With employees it’s important to establish your expectations early on and to nip shennanigans in the bud before they take root. Personally, I’m a stickler for showing up on time and sticking around until the end of the business day. Sure there are exceptions and I’ve always been flexible and understanding about doctor appointments, vacation time etc. But I make it known from the get-go that I shouldn’t ever have to wonder if an employee of mine is coming in from day to day.
Same with backtalk. I’m a pretty liberal manager and I’m cool with witty repartee, off-color jokes and general goofing off –as long as the work gets done to my standards of quality and timeliness. I’m also okay with some gentle ribbing of me and my peculiarities to a point. If it borders on disrespect I put a quick end to it.
- Be supportive
Just as children need the security of their mother’s love and support in order for them to be self-confident and adventurous creatures, your employees should also know that you have their back.I have never allowed a colleague to disrespect or mistreat an employee of mine, and will ‘escalate’ the shit out of anyone who tries it. Likewise, I give employees clear guidance on how much they can push back on colleagues and when it’s okay to give in. I expect courteous and respectful communication from my employees as well. As everyone knows there are many polite and professional ways to phrase a ‘are you fucking kidding me’ email.
It’s important to me (and personally rewarding) to encourage employees to stretch themselves, learn new skills and be creative. If you give them a chance to show what they can do, your organization can reap the benefits and Bonus! you’re now a ‘mentor’ and not just a manager. The downside of this is when someone stretches too far, aims too high and crashes and burns. This is a delicate conversation to have but it’s important to gently dial back the duties and make suggestions on improving skills. You can’t just let them fail because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.
- Be honest
Just as you pass on your moral values to the next generation, set a good example for your employees. Lead by example and show them how to be an honest, hardworking, friendly and successful professional. Don’t take credit for others’ work. Don’t play politics. Don’t dangle ephemeral ‘rewards’ that you know you won’t be able to make good on. Try to be as transparent as you can. Sure, there are some things that are super secret squirrel that you really need to keep quiet, but the more insight you can provide on why and when and how their work fits into the bigger picture, the more your employees will feel their work is valued by you and the company as a whole.
- Know when to cut the cord
You may take coroporate fresh meat and spend years guiding and teaching and inspiring them; creating a fantastic professional that you can be proud of. But this does not make them your indentured servant (or your child) and you must let them go gracefully when they are ready for the next big thing. Sometimes, like a lazy teenager, they will be afraid to leave the nest and need some encouragement. I’m not suggesting you fire someone, but an honest conversation to convey that you feel they’re ready for the next step and that you’ll be happy to help them find what that is can be a great confidence booster.
Your kids don’t want you hanging around with them and their friends… no matter how ‘cool’ you are. Same thing with your employees. Drinks after work? Sure. But show up, buy a round, and then amscray.