Becoming a Manager – The Fairytale

Shawnee Love   •  
May 30, 2013

Many people are spoon fed that idea they must work hard at their job in order to rise up to become a manager. The idea being that when you become a manager, you have reached a major pinnacle and your life will somehow be better for it.  There is of course greater pay and respect people will owe you for both being in that position and your hard work and achievement in rising to the top.  They may neglect to mention the fact that you may have to work up to 50% more hours for it.

The fairytale also doesn’t mention that all the things you loved about your job and the skills you mastered to progress become fairly useless at a management level since you don’t get to do that type of work anymore. The only use you put all your hard earned talent to is as a meter stick against which you measure the capability of others, i.e., to recognize when an employee (or supplier) is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  Instead of doing the work you most love, you spend your days responding to emails, attending meetings of things you “need to know” but likely won’t use, reviewing P&L statements and agonizing over how to become more efficient and effective with progressively less, intervening in conflicts, following up on work that should be but is not done, and of course, either preparing for or holding dreaded performance management meetings (either performance reviews or disciplinary in nature).  If you are lucky you might get to mentor a young up and comer so she will be ready to take your job in 3 years and she will be advertising that fact to anyone who will listen within 9 months or less.

Sounds more like a tragedy if you ask me.  I know this Seinfeld-esque rant sounds terribly cynical, but although exaggerated, doesn’t it feel just a little bit true?

From my vantage point, management isn’t all it is cracked up to be and it is even worse for people who are ill prepared for the “management” aspects.

Want to become a manager?  Yes, you need to know what your people do, but you should also cultivate these skills:

  • financial management so you can not only read a P&L but do budgets and monitor progress throughout the year
  • conflict resolution so you can be on top of interpersonal issues in your team before they blow up
  • organization so you can prioritize and build plans to deliver on the budgets you developed not to mention get through the mountain of paperwork and reports managers must do
  • goal setting so you and your team know what you need to do throughout the year to deliver the budget you promised
  • multi-tasking so you can be surrepticiously reviewing emails as you sit in another meeting
  • public speaking so you communicate effectively when asked to speak at one of those meetings
  • coaching and providing feedback so you can help your people meet their job requirements and improve / grow
  • interpersonal skills so you can obtain the buy in and respect from your team members
  • listening skills so you will keep the buy in and respect of your team members

Finally, you must learn to be a role model for good behavior even in the face of what borders on moronic and keep on keeping on.

Still want to be a manager?  Tell us why!