Friday, November 7, 2008

Yesterday is gone and other hard learned lessons from a new manager

I should have posted this blog yesterday. That tops the list of things I should have done yesterday but now, yesterday is gone. This is the most important lesson I've learned as a new manager. I am definitely not new to this whole "stuffesional" thing. I started babysitting after school and on weekends when I was 15 years old. My next job was teaching ballet and acrobatics at 17 years old and I worked full-time during undergrad. However, I had never managed people until now. I was always responsible for me and me alone. My time, my work, my studies and stress load, my family - just me.

A few months ago I was promoted to management. Rather ironically, I manage a team of seven working professionals who are all currently in graduate school. Yesterday, one of my best but most defiant employees got mad, screamed at me, quit his job and walked that order. I was shocked. I was embarassed. I felt like a failure. It left me scrambling to redistribute his work load and rearrange the schedule. While I can never get that time back, it is important to take a step backward sometimes to reflect and learn lessons that can make me a better manager in the future. I have learned a lot of difficult lessons as a new manager and I will share a few of them with you now.

  1. Your employees are not your friends - never try to be buddies

  2. If an employee is disrespecting your authority, look closely at the situation and nip it in the bud quickly but don't ignore it

  3. New managers should always take advantage of continuing education training available to them to aid them in making the transition - don't put it off because you are busy. Just do it!

  4. Look into the possibility of promoting one of your employees to a "team leader" position and delegate some authority to that person

  5. Do the job your employees do and do it often

  6. Let them give peer feedback - ask them questions and listen carefully to their suggestions

  7. Take an hour each day and close your door to employees; this time is for scheduling and managing your own work load

  8. Keep a spreadsheet tracking employee progress by date (i.e. Sally was late on Tuesday but volunteered to take on an extra assignment on Thursday)

- Anna

Anna Rabinowitz is a public relations and information manager for George Mason University's Graduate and Professional Schools at the Arlington Campus. She has held communication and marketing positions for a United States Senator and Holland & Knight LLP. A native Floridian, Anna enjoys studying international espionage, farmer's markets and spending time with her husband of two years, Steven.


Anonymous said...

Anna- you rock! Great entry.

The Stufessionals said...

Thanks L.M. It has been a really difficult couple of days. It definitely helps to blog it out!!!

mil1265 said...

As a former manager of employees I agree that managing people is a bitch. And all the things you have posted are absolutely correct. Nip it in the bud and move on. You're doing great.

43-44 said...

Anna, sorry to hear what happened.

Your employee should have had a decent conversation with you about the fact that she/he wants to leave vs. the scandal you experienced. In the end the only one "hurt" will be her/him, so silly her/him.

It must be difficult to face that situation (with a sort-of-nutcase, I assume) but don't let that affect you.

If anything, that was a good lesson for you as a manager too!

best wishes.