Just looking back at my calendar and reviewing the coaching calls I’ve had over the last few weeks, what really jumps out at me is that almost every single call was spent dealing with the challenge of managing people. When I stop to think about it, this makes sense. When I was in business school and would speak with alums, they would all tell me that the class they wished they had paid more attention in was “Managing People at Work.”
WHY IS MANAGING PEOPLE SO DIFFICULT?
There are a number of reasons. First, as women we are socialized to not rock the boat. We don’t want to make anybody feel bad. Part of being a good manager is being clear and direct in your communication. This is the exact opposite of how women are taught to communicate. It can be uncomfortable to tell someone they aren’t meeting your expectations, but that is what you have to do.
Second, being a good manager requires that you have a well-articulated vision, clear metrics to gauge progress and success, and an open mind to learn from mistakes and adjust midcourse. As we all know, this is easier said than done. It takes time to develop these —time that is always difficult to carve out from our already busy schedules.
And, finally, being a good manager is hard because in order to do it well, you have to not take anything too personally.
A good manager asks for feedback and incorporates good ideas into her plans. A good manager is willing and able to hear comments that aren’t always positive. A good manager keeps a calm and steady hand on the boat as she weathers the inevitable storms that arise.
Managing people is not easy, but it is possible to get better at it. Take the time to think about the positive qualities your previous managers displayed and how you can incorporate those into your management style. Be clear and direct in your communications. Set the vision and goals for your company and make sure everyone you are managing understands their role in the company’s success. And, if there is a bump in the road, learn from experience and take responsibility for your role in the mistake. That goes a long way towards building your team’s confidence in you as a leader.