The Terrifying Reality of Being a Manager

by Rob Sheppard

[Approx. 4 1/2-minute read – but it’s worth it!]

Or “Navigating the joys and pains of managing people in the workplace”.

It *is* a journey

In our previous article ‘Lead yourself? 9 proven ways to do it.‘, we explored the concept of leading yourself and the important role this plays in achieving team and organisational goals.

Managing comes with its own set of unique challenges (more terrifying to some than public speaking). From navigating employment legislation, higher up demands for productivity to maintaining team morale while having to hold people to account.

In this article, we delve a little deeper into three of the most common experiences we believe managers face the world over and provide some insights on how to effectively handle them.

Your journey starts by letting go, proactively addressing conflict and a developing a managerial mindset.

1. Letting go – the Art of Delegation

One of the biggest hurdles managers can encounter when starting their ‘Hero’s Journey’ is learning to delegate tasks effectively and relinquishing control over every aspect of their team’s work.

It puts me in mind of Major Dick Winters (from WWII Band of Brothers TV fame) when he was told he could not rush to the front line when his old unit was in danger. He had other responsibilities for more than just this one group of soldiers and forgetting this could have impacted more lives.

Transitioning from an individual contributor to a managerial role will often require letting go of feeling the need to micromanage and *trusting* team members to deliver results.

In the workplace, we might see a newly promoted manager struggle with assigning tasks and overseeing the process, fearing that things might not be done to their expected standards. This slippery slope to micromanagement (‘I’ll just do it myself’) hampers employee autonomy and growth.

Important note: to effectively let go, you will need to provide clarity to individuals about their roles. A great place to start is a job description and some human-centred rules / policies / processes. These will help align everyone’s contributions – or at least identify if someone does need closer management.

On this note, please don’t confuse ‘micromanagement’ with genuine performance management (that is just a lesson for another day).

a managerial role often requires letting go

2. Managing conflict – the Art of Crucial Conversations

Navigating conflict and engaging in difficult conversations is another pain point for managers. Especially as I feel many managers are promoted on a technical basis rather than for their soft skills like holding a conversation.

This failure to acknowledge the importance of soft skills can be to everyone’s detriment – conflict can arise even amongst the greatest of teams from time to time.

A manager’s ability to *confidently* address workplace conflicts is crucial for maintaining a productive and happy work environment.

Consider a scenario where two team members have conflicting opinions on how to approach a piece of work. A manager who lacks the skills to facilitate open dialogue and find common ground may struggle to resolve the conflict, leading to decreased team cohesion and poor work outcomes.

Worse, this conflict may spread.

navigate conflict – don’t avoid it

3. Shifting mindset- the Art of Knowing [you’re a manager]

Moving from an individual contributor to a leader’s role requires a significant mindset shift.

This is more than proudly updating your Linkedin profile with a shiny new job title and instead, mindfully considering your journey.

Successful managers must transition from focusing solely on their own tasks and achievements to considering the broader goals and needs of their team and the business.

This shift can be challenging for some, particularly if they were highly successful as individual contributors. These people may find it genuinely difficult to let go of their individual accomplishments and embrace the behind-the-scenes responsibilities that come with leading others.

At the far end of this spectrum, is the manager who constantly struggles to prioritise team objectives over personal achievements or outcomes. Without knowing it, they hamstring their effectiveness in guiding and supporting their team when they are likely needed the most.

embrace the responsibilities that come with leading others

Start your journey – now

The journey of managerial growth is not without its pains. Some days, you might even feel like you’re managing an ‘adult daycare centre’.

However, the rewards of witnessing people flourish are truly gratifying. It will be an unforgettable moment when an ex-team member contacts you out-of-the-blue after several years to express their gratitude for the support you provided. When that day comes, and it will, embrace the genuine joy and impact you’ve made in the world.

Also… be gentle on yourself during this journey, especially as you navigate the initial stages of your development and broaden your self-awareness and knowledge.

There is literally a wealth of information out there to help you with this, with my personal favourite being Jim Collins (#fanboy). Or perhaps head into Linkedin and search for a hashtag that resonates for you. No doubts you’ll find some homegrown thought-leaders to follow – and all for free.

In the meantime…

… prioritise learning to delegate, master conflict and embrace the mindset shift from individual contributor to leader. In this way you will slowly but surely start to overcome your obstacles and foster the positive work environment both you and your team deserve.

And if it’s all still confusing?

If you need help or have a sense this might be a future issue for you and your business, please click the link below and we’ll be happy to speak to you about any ideas this article has raised for you (or your team).

Thanks for reading!