Many people love managing a team. I was one of those. It always felt like both an (earned) responsibility and an honor to lead and develop others. To me, it was a creative exercise to be given a big job and figure out how to break it up and assign smaller pieces thoughtfully. Most importantly, to help others foster a sense of development, challenge and joy - yes, joy - in the process. Some people naturally crave this type of role, and for others it just lands in their lap without much notice or training.
However you find yourself managing others, any notion that managing is easier than “just doing it yourself” is quickly dispelled. It takes one day on the job to realize that there is way more involved in managing instead of simply doing, and there is also a lot more at stake.
Apparently, everything is “culture.” Organizational culture made itself such an all-inclusive catch-all, that it’s lost it’s meaning entirely.
What kind of perks does your company have? Culture.
What are the company values? Culture.
How do people get promoted? Culture.
Companies want to change their culture now more than ever. But nobody knows what culture really is and how to “fix” it.
I was getting coffee the other day and I went to ask the barista “How is the Sumatra blend?” I caught myself and quickly changed the question: “What do you think of the Sumatra blend?” Upon asking this, I learned all about the flavors, light vs. dark, toasty vs. roasty, rich. “Oh" he said , "then we also have this one over here, it’s bolder with notes of...”
These two different questions come across in two different ways, and will therefore elicit two different kinds of responses. But the difference between them really comes down to one word. What’s the magic word?
It is easy for managers to “check themselves at the (office) door” as I’ve termed it - to forget to bring the caring, empathetic and human part of you into the workplace. Managers are in such a go-go-go mindset, that slowing down to engage employees on a human level often ends up taking a backseat. The net effect of that is disengagement, evidenced by the fact that one-in-two employees leave a job to get away from their manager.
But what if caring for, and retaining, the front line optimized the bottom line?