How to be a REAL Manager

Recently, I had a chance to attend Management talk, and the topic was ‘First break all the rules’, It would have been better to call it ‘Change in Management’ instead. Regardless, talk was too boring to learn much from it on practical areas. That made me think of pinning down What really managers should do when they have responsibility to manage people truly.

Never hold a meeting without an agenda.
If you don’t know what you’re going to do there, then no one else will know what you’re doing, either. Bringing them to a meeting without an agenda is wasting their time, and that is disrespectful. A meeting without an agenda is like saying, “My time is so much important than yours that instead of preparing, I’m going to find out what we’re doing in real-time, and you will sit here and watch me.”
So the first rule, is to be respectful.

Managing people by helping them grow along with you.
Your job as a manager is to make sure your employees are growing and learning and enjoying their time at work. One of survey respondent admits most people won’t, management requires giving so much of yourself that it’s disconcerting. Most people who are new managers pop out of their office from time to time to tell people they are doing stuff wrong, or to let people know about new goals or new procedures. But that is not managing. That is being a human memo.

Real managing is about growth and caring. It’s about taking time to see what skills people need to develop to move in the direction they want to move, and then helping them get those skills. This means that you need to sit with the person and find out what matters to them. And then you need to sit with yourself and figure out how you can help the person. Most people don’t see management as listening and thinking, but that’s what it is. Because that’s what caring about someone looks like.

A good manager pops up all the time, just to check in. Not because you are micromanaging and you don’t trust anyone around you. But because you can’t know how to help people if you don’t know how they are doing. Once you get to the point where you are connecting with the people you manage, and you are helping them get what they want from their job, you are in a position to change the world. I was a very young manager, and found myself interviewing people much older than I was. Really, I had a big moment in my own career as a manager when I realized that I could change the world, in a small way, just by being more open-minded and generous to the people around me.

All this reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As a psychologist, he developed a theory to describe the path people take to address first their core needs, and then eventually to achieve their ultimate need for a life of self-actualization:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

I think this pyramid applies to work as well. You start off just making sure you can get a job, and you figure out, eventually, how to use your job to make the world a better place.
Pseudo-Maslow Hierarchy of Job Needs
1. Physiological – Take care of keeping yourself fed and clothed.
2. Safety – Work on feeling secure that you can keep yourself employed, if something happens.
3. Love and belonging – Figure out how to get a job that respects your personal life.
4. Esteem – perform well at your job because you have the resources and the security to do so
5. Self-actualization – help other people reach their potential through creative and moral problem solving
So really, management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code and some through management.
But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. And you need to give generously. Because after all, we are here, on this planet, to give out to each other.

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