Managing for People Who Hate Managing
BE A SUCCESS BY BEING YOURSELF
By Devora Zack
Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc.
Copyright © 2012 Devora Zack
All right reserved.
Chapter One Why You Hate It, Why I Wrote This
Find a job you like and you add five days to every week. —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
So much to do in every day Never wanted to manage anyway Just do your work and what I say So my last nerve doesn't fray.
I'm so glad you stopped by. Our expedition navigating the crazy, stormy waters of Managing People will be well worth the time you devote. Plus, reading this book may count as professional development. You go!
On these pages you'll find heaps of useful, lifesaving management tips. Euros well spent, if you ask me. Consider this book a leadership life vest, only more flattering. Your being here makes the whole insane process of writing worthwhile. In fact, I wrote this book for you (see the dedication).
You Have Questions, I Have Answers
Before we delve in, a few pesky questions are pounding at the door, demanding our attention.
WHY DOES THIS BOOK EXIST?
As a management consultant for more years than is really your business, I've seen plenty of fads come and go. I could list them here to make my point, except that would be criminally tedious. Plus, my up-and-coming readers will have no idea what I'm talking about. That's the point: Fads go. Splitsville. Ta-ta. Heartlessly leaving us panting in the very offices where they sought us out, promised the world ... then promptly turned on their heels following the big gala thrown in their honor.
There are way beyond plenty of management books out there. Why didn't I choose to write about an underrepresented topic in business literature? The impact of solar eclipses on manager tirade cycles, for example.
I'm focusing on this topic because it is so stinkin' essential. Learning techniques to reverse your secret hatred of managing can have a colossal impact on your work life—to infinity and beyond. We are teetering on the verge of a veritable management big bang.
Notice I said "reverse your secret hatred" not "how to deal with people even though you can't stand managing them."
our aim is to discover a method of managing that you don't hate. The reason you won't hate it is because it fits who you are.
Managing isn't just something we do while walking purposefully in big buildings with lots of windows. Management is about communication, rapport, morale, and productivity. For starters.
WHAT IS MANAGING, ANYWAY?
Aah, the bazillion dollar question. I'll take an IOU.
Any half-baked MBA knows that we could argue all day about the truest, bestest definition of manager. Didactics bore me, however. So let's put our heads together and think about the brass tacks of what we expect in a quality manager (precluding, for now, the rest of your job, such as whittling widgets or multiplying money). What does managing boil down to?
Managing is the high-wire act of balancing useful guidance and getting out of the way.
If you got to handpick a person to manage you, wouldn't you tag someone with a variation of the above recipe?
Providing useful guidance presupposes that a manager has the requisite ability and credentials. Equally essential is having the wherewithal to know when to step aside to let others grow, excel, and mess up. When in doubt, pour a higher proportion of letting-others-shine into your management protein shake. (Chapter 7 delves into this.)
WHY DO PEOPLE HATE MANAGING?
A startling percentage of us dislike, even (shh!) hate managing. What is the source of this international travesty? Much managerial angst springs from two causes.
1. You pursue a career of interest. You turn out to be halfway decent at it, earning a promotion. Suddenly, you find yourself in the alarming, distressing quandary of Managing People. You have less time to do what stimulates you and more responsibility for motivating, leading, and prodding others.
2. Let's not mince words. Managing others can be a real buzz kill. You gotta deal with all their ... stuff. When did you wake up and suddenly become a therapist, mediator, and cruise director?
In a nutshell, we want to do what we consider our real work; managing gets in the way.
Management is not your passion; your real job is.
And that, my friends, is the elephant in the room. (You knew that was coming; may as well get it over with early on). A recent Berrett-Koehler study of 150 leaders from nearly as many industries revealed that only 43 percent are comfortable being managers, with a mere 32 percent saying they like being managers.
Translation, anyone? Too subtle a statistic? Allow me to spell things out.
Chances are less than one in three that your manager is amused to be managing you. Depending on your own little idiosyncrasies, the actual percentage could be even more skewed against you! Yet I'm certain that is not the case.
Help is on the way. Legions of managers suffer needlessly from the misperception that to be a real manager they must somehow assume a plethora of traits that don't come close to seeming natural. Plus, they believe real managers don't eat quiche. This is untrue and smacks of prejudice against egg farmers.
I say, stop the madness!
The reverse is true. The only way to achieve success as a manager —and to garner the rewards and benefits of managing—is to lead from a place that is authentic to your core. Frittatas all around.
Because most normal people spend the majority of their waking hours preoccupied with vital matters other than personality functioning, knowing oneself can get shoved to the side. Unhelpfully, a startling number of business books direct you to look outside yourself for clues on how to manage the masses. This book, instead, crystalizes your understanding of hot-ticket items such as:
* What is your natural management style?
* How do you make decisions?
* What are your strongest traits?
* Do you lead from your head or your heart?
* How can you figure out what matters most to people on your team?
* What's the best way to reinforce positive behavior?
* How can you leverage your strengths to manage others? ... and the biggie ...
* How can you be both true to yourself and flexible in how you manage others?
The answers to these questions add up to the Uniquely You formula for brilliant management. No, it is not a hair coloring.
WHY IS THIS BOOK ACTION-PACKED?
Down with passivity! People learn through involvement. My favorite Chinese proverb puts it succinctly:
"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand."
Action is particularly important to book readers. Have you ever read a book and thought it quite good ... then couldn't recall a single tangible thread six months later? I am determined to fight this trend. The best way to reap sustainable benefits from a book is through your active involvement in the escapade.
Recall seeing a "Save the ________!" ad and thinking, "Wow! That's a really important cause! I'm going to make a donation." If you don't do it on the spot, chances are zip to nil you ever will. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1. We forget within forty-eight hours half of what we hear and learn.
2. We are most likely to convert intention into reality by taking action close to the point of inspiration.
That's why merely providing instructions on, say, How to Manage Better yields low retention and weak results. You won't remember what you read ... or the changes you were temporarily inspired to make. Relevant examples to demonstrate techniques help. Actively engaging readers while they are reading—through activities, assessments, and exercises—enables new skills to really take hold.
Because different styles capitalize on unique strengths, this book kicks things off with an easy-to-take, versatile assessment in chapter 2, "Who Are You?" Then you get to jump through a few hoops. You'll find segments throughout the book called "Jumpin' Thru Hoops." These are your opportunity to apply ideas to your own journey. You don't get to just sit and read. You have to stay awake and alert, with a zillion opportunities (with a margin of error ± 3) to convert content into relevant action.
What more could you want out of life? Real-life examples? You got it. "Sample Examples" are scattered like breadcrumbs marking your way through the forest. You also will come across boxes called "On a Related Note," with tidbits related to the primary chapter themes.
Even if everything else around you collapses to bits, we'll always have fond memories of traipsing through this book together.
WILL I EVER ACHIEVE MY LOFTY AMBITION OF A ONE-WORD BOOK TITLE?
I saved the most critical question for last. Please arrange a write-in campaign to my editors. I need all the momentum I can get on this failed campaign.
Tatiana was a marvelous, motivated manager at an international organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Upon her promotion to management, Tatiana inherited a handful of a team. Her direct reports were impressively opinionated, outspoken, cynical, and authority adverse. True to form, the team was instantly skeptical of Tatiana as their new manager. I use the term team loosely, because this crew was more invested in coalitions and gossip than in team building. To heighten the situation, many had held the same position for over a decade while somehow dodging any meaningful feedback or real accountability.
Tatiana meant business. She was as eager to build productivity as she was to create rapport, with neither goal particularly prized by her dozen direct reports. Tatiana's office was a few floors above her team, in a sprawling office building, emphasizing her heightened role and presumed distance from the commoners. This rank-based arrangement made Tatiana uncomfortable, so she made a point of hand delivering the mail (which arrived first at her office) to her staff's desks three floors down. Standard operating procedure was for supervisors to e-mail staff and let them collect mail and other pertinent paperwork themselves. Tatiana intended to demonstrate camaraderie and respect by making the trek herself. This was typical of Tatiana's style; her actions and choices reflected her natural humility.
What did the team think about her mail delivery service? They were livid. Their new manager was intolerable! Evidently, she neither respected nor trusted them. And how did they arrive at this rock solid conclusion?
"She spies on us!" they proclaimed. "Instead of calling us into her office to get our mail, she brings it down here as an excuse to sneak up on us." That was all the data they required to prove their theory. Case closed.
Momentarily file away that story and follow me across the globe to the open bush of Australia.
Upon my arrival in Australia for a speaking tour, I was invited on an excursion around the area surrounding Queensland's lovely coastal town of Maroochydore. Shortly into the bus ride, the driver, Paul, a dedicated local, pointed far into the bush where he spotted a roo (Aussie for kangaroo). I desperately wanted to see my first wild roo and strained to search the landscape. To my consternation, my unaccustomed eyes couldn't distinguish roo from bush.
Upon the tour's conclusion, Paul asked how I'd liked everything. I thanked him for his top-notch job introducing us to his beloved countryside yet admitted disappointment in missing the roo. An expert in catastrophic thinking, I was certain I'd bungled my one and only chance in this lifetime to view a real roo.
Paul reassured me, "I think we can arrange a viewing for you." He instructed me to stay on board while the others disembarked, and then we drove a short distance to the University of Southern Queensland, where seventy or eighty wild roos roamed free on the campus. Immediately upon our arrival we spotted two glorious specimens in plain view, basking in the sun rays. I was wild with excitement.
"Can I crawl out there and pet one?" I asked, ridiculously.
"Sure, mate," he replied in laid-back Aussie style.
On hands and knees, I crawled stealthily (at least that's how I like to recall it) into the bush. I strategically made a wide arc around the roos and, remaining unnoticed, positioned myself immediately behind them. Dizzy with success, I reached out a hand to touch the larger one on her back.
I somehow failed to notice that the smaller roo was apparently an offspring, whom the mother was obliged to protect. The plot thickens.
The mom roo had not expected me to suddenly appear behind her, and she was startled. She jumped up on her back legs, whirled to face me, assumed boxing position, and prepared for battle. Far off in the distance, I heard my guide say in his steady voice, "Now crawl away ... quickly."
I managed to emerge unscathed. I did nothing, however, toward advancing my relationship with roos.
Naturally, this brings us to the question of why so many managers harbor a strong dislike for managing. Tatiana and the roos intersect to illustrate the mysterious Big Mess commonly referenced as Managing.
The following comparisons are provided for your consideration.
How are complete disconnects between intentions and interpretations possible? Are these the only two examples of this kind or—more alarmingly—are they everywhere, permeating the very fabric of our existence?
I'd prefer to not answer that question. Yet I will, out of sheer commitment to your professional success. Typical interplay between intention and interpretation:
My intention -> Your response -> Terribly skewed outcome
Yes, gentle reader. These disconnects permeate the very fabric of our existence. There. I said it. Best to get things out in the open at the start of a relationship, don't you think? So you know what you're getting yourself into. For those of you who want to exit the book now, I understand. Just remember, you can run but you can't hide. Nice meeting you.
For those of you who stuck around, I'm glad you don't succumb to panic easily.
Let's Get It Started
A journey of a thousand steps (not so bad, given inflation these days) starts with understanding your own sweet self. Luckily, I've done the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is grab a latte, relax at a swank café, and hold up this book for onlookers to jot down the title.
Reading an e-book? Curses! Foiled again.
To recap: People hate managing because it's draining and interferes with addressing substantial other demands on their time. Plus there's a misconception that you have to smash your personality into a predefined mold to be a good manager (and land that coveted VIP parking space).
This book helps you discover a leadership style perfectly suited to you, capitalizing on your natural strengths. As a result, managing becomes easier and more enjoyable.
You'll learn how to be a top-notch manager, being true to yourself while adapting to honor the preferences of others. By the way, having an adaptive style doesn't mean letting people off the hook. It means understanding how others perceive reality and working within that construct for mutual success. The first step is clarifying your own style. Interested?
Join me at the next chapter.
Excerpted from Managing for People Who Hate Managing by Devora Zack Copyright © 2012 by Devora Zack. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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