Well, so 10 days and around 100 hours into my new employment, I guess it’s time for an update on how things are progressing.
I’m exhausted. But the good news is that even though I’ve had to quit running due to having no time at “home” other than to sleep and shower, I’ve slimmed down and built muscle mass in my arms, back, and abs. The bad news is that I’ve got bags under my eyes, my left knee is killing me, my cuticles are scabbed up and I’ve obtained several deep cuts on my fingers, and while lifting a stack of bread racks last night I felt something pop in the bones of my neck and it’s been extremely painful since and I’m still trying to ascertain how serious and long lasting the damage may be.
I’ve been thrown to the wolves, so to speak. The 1st day I showed up at my job no one there even knew I was coming. The billionaire owners are flying over for a site visit this week, and all the managers have been freaking out, and thus haven’t had time to properly train me. So I’ve just been working with the part-time crew, following them around trying to figure out how to master the basics of things such as registers, bagging, staging deliveries, restocking, and so forth, and gleaning whatever wisdom the best of the workers can bestow upon me.
As to whether this is a career I really want to dedicate myself to is another question. At the moment, it’s simply a job, and the way the economy is headed, I’m just happy to have a decent one. But it’s hard, physically demanding work, and I don’t know that it’s something I want to build a long-term career out of. But at least the option is there, and the company is a well-managed one.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what my approach to managing people is. Here are some of the principles by which I operate:
- Power tripping is never appropriate; it is a sign of weakness and low self-esteem
- Similarly, never talk down to your workers. Even when they are not performing well
- You are always responsible for your workers performance. Never blame the under-performance or thievery of your workers on them. It is your fault.
- Similarly, never blame a worker’s failure to follow your command on their lack of understanding. It is rather your lack of ability to clearly communicate and articulate your command so that they understand it fully, and your failure, furthermore, to clarify that they have understood, and to make yourself readily available and open to their questions should they have any.
- It is your job and your role to function as a person who tells your workers what to do. They shouldn’t have to think for you. They aren’t paid or positioned to do so. Don’t complicate this relation by obfuscating your commands with excuses, justifications, or apologies.
- Similarly, the reason you are paid more and have a position of authority is because you are supposed to be working (or thinking) harder. You are supposed to be not only working harder, but have a deeper and broader understanding of all aspects of the work of those below you. If you think you have “earned” your position in order to sit back on your laurels and be lazy and arrogant, then you aren’t managing appropriately.
- If you can’t relate to your workers as fellow human beings, friends, and compatriots, then you won’t be able to earn their respect and they won’t work as hard as they could for you. You might be able to earn their fear, but fear only goes so far, and it backfires in the end (other than in the small, confined space of kitchens or classrooms).
- Similarly, don’t pretend to be someone you are not. If you are quiet, then be quiet. If you are obnoxious, then be obnoxious. Whatever you do, just be yourself. If you are forcing yourself to manage according to some idea of the “right” way of interacting with other people, then you are being unnatural, and no one responds positively to someone who is unnatural.
- Similarly, don’t try to mentally confine your workers into a collective box. Every worker is a human being with different backgrounds, thoughts, creative solutions, and analytical capabilities. You have to treat them as individuals, and treat every problem situationally.
- One of the most important and fundamental aspects of good management is integrity. Do what you say. Lead by example. Don’t be two-faced and don’t pretend to like people who you don’t.
- And finally—the most important principle, in my opinion—don’t enforce artificial divisions between management and staff, whether through gossip or action. Obviously, rules and laws exist for a reason. But everyone is a human being. We operate based on incentives and disincentives, and not all of them are related to money. Relating to your workers as equal human beings is probably the most single, important key to being a manager they will respect and want to work well for. They understand that it is your position and role to be a manager. They don’t have to be bludgeoned over the head with that fact. Beyond the role and functions and duties of your position, you are a human being, a person with weaknesses and desires and hubris like everyone else. Allow yourself to be a human in interacting with your workers, and similarly, allow them to be humans. Allow them their weaknesses and foibles. Encourage them, nurture them, and love them. Provide them with a positive and fun work environment. Help them to grow. If you can accomplish that task, then you are indeed a good manager.