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How to become a better manager?


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I recently posted a thread here about the struggles at my new job and got some good advice. Things were alright at work for a couple of days, but today we had an issue - we have a new client who started with us a couple of weeks ago, which I'm managing with an executive helping under my guidance.


The workload has been insane for me, with little support, and I knew we would not have much time for dramatic changes in their account, so I told her to do a few things but to leave some campaigns alone. She made changes to them anyway, and today my manager told me off as performance had dropped dramatically and the client was kicking off. I should have noticed that sooner, but I didn't as I was really busy with other things.


In hindsight, I should have prioritised managing the exec over putting out all the other fires. This has made me realise that I need better management skills. I managed some people unoficially at my previous job, but they were pretty independent and never had to do much with them. Clients were a lot less demanding too.


I realise I've been putting off the management side as it makes me uncomfortable. Even telling the exec she did somethinh wrong was hard. But I need to prioritise this now.


If any of you have transitioned into management from a more techie job and has some advice, that'd be really helpful. Anything from structure - how often to meet your team, how to ask them to report to you, etc. - to form - how to tell them they've done something wrong without barking at them like my boss does, how to tell them to do this or that - would be really useful.


I know this might sound obvious to some of you, but I think I'm a bit of a people pleaser and this doesn't come naturally to me. My boss is quite a harsh person, and I don't want to manage people like he does, but I realise I need to make the 'leap' to manager and I really lack the skills.



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You don't need to become a jerk to be a good manager. In fact, holding people accountable to clear expectations is very empowering for them and very freeing for you.


Management is a huge topic, but I'd recommend the book "Leadership and Self-deception" to help you understand some of the principles. Ken Blanchard's "The One Minute Manager" is also a great resource.


I meet with my team weekly for an hour. We start with administrative & general items, then we go around the room and each person reports something they did well and something they are struggling with (these are required responses; each person needs to report both). I meet with each individual on my team every 2 weeks to discuss morale and performance. In this meeting, I tell them something they are doing well and something they could improve on. Then I ask for that same feedback in return. Again, specific feedback is required -- I can't just say "you're doing great" and leave it at that, nor can the employee. This is the foundation of continuous improvement. If an employee brings up an issue with their work, instead of offering solutions I ask them what they would recommend. This helps them own their responsibilities rather than feeling like they are just doing what I tell them. Over time, it also keeps them from bringing me problems they can solve themselves.


One of my favorite management quotes is by Harvey Mackay: "If you want one year of happiness, grow grain. If you want 10 years of happiness, grow trees. If you want 100 years of happiness, grow people."


The fact that you are asking for this advice tells me that you care very much about success in this area. That makes you more aware than most.


Learn from your mistakes, learn to delegate effectively so you aren't so busy as an individual contributor that you can't manage effectively, and learn to see challenges as opportunities.

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Thanks so much Gebaird, very insightful. I'm only managing this one person for the moment, and I've been told that she's a bit difficult to manage as she'll often complain about how busy she is but when someone tries to take stuff from her, she won't let them. I think to start with I'll have daily meetings with her, just to know what she's working on for the day, plan the week ahead and keep up with her progress.


Unfortunately, a lot of people left last year and the team has reduced to my manager, my exec and now me. Workload is pretty crazy so I'm going to have to both manage on work on the accounts for the moment. I think I have prioritised working on the accounts over managing her as I feel more comfortable with the former, but I took this job to learn some management skills so I'm going to have to focus on it.


I'll look up those 2 books as well. Thanks again for the advice!

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