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Managing For People Who Hate Managing
Author: Devora Zack
Ms. Zack is CEO of Only Connect Consulting, Inc. (www.myonlyconnect.com) and author of Managing for People Who Hate Managing (Berrett-Koehler 2012) and Networking for People Who Hate Networking (Berrett-Koehler 2010. She consults to dozens of Federal agencies including TSA, IRS, Treasury, U.S. Education, and U.S. Patent & Trademark.
Congratulations! You’re a manager in the public sector. You have been bestowed with the opportunity to manage others while simultaneously managing yourself. Overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted? Work life spiraling out of control?
You are not alone. Most leaders don’t discuss managerial-related angst, out of concern for appearing weak or incompetent. Yet 68% of managers don’t like managing.
Like you, the vast majority of managers did not sign up to be managers. You pursued a career of interest, thrived, and were rewarded with a promotion to management. Becoming a manager adds a facet to your job that, more likely than not, you were never trained to do. In fact, nine out of ten leaders believe they do not have the necessary skills to manage.
Burn out intensifies when attempting to assume a style of management out of sync with your temperament. Many leaders have been brainwashed to follow a singular set of ‘rules’ about how to manage. Futilely attempting to squish yourself into a template that wasn’t designed for you leaves you wiped out; more convinced than ever that you really aren’t cut out for management. Yet believe it or not, you have all the raw materials needed to be a managerial superstar.
Managing well requires working with, rather than fighting against, your natural style. The only way to be a successful manager is by capitalizing on your strengths. Design a management style that enlivens you, and consequently, those around you. Being authentic increases your effectiveness, energy level, and credibility.
Why can’t you memorize a book on “How to Manage People” and emerge a top-notch leader?
Part of the confusion lurking just beneath the surface of any basic, seemingly well-functioning organization is due to cataclysmic clashes of personality. There are endless variables that factor into how to manage effectively, and these factors differ with every person on your team. You cannot directly control other people, yet you are now mysteriously accountable for their output. Yet, understanding people’s behavior reduces your frustration and increases your efficiency.
The only way to achieve real 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. There are no hard and fast rules. Okay, so there is one rule.
Yet there are skills involved in being yourself. The first step toward being you is knowing you. Understanding your personality enables you to harness the best you have to offer as a manager.
There are a plethora of traits that combine in complex ways to make you. One dimension, the Thinker–Feeler continuum, is a prime indicator of how to navigate the stormy seas of management – while being authentic to your core. Thinker–Feeler is one of four aspects of personality highlighted in the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator and is linked to how we make decisions, communicate, and lead.
Everybody thinks and feels, yet there are degrees, gradations, of how strongly one identifies with either dimension. Some people are ‘off the chart’ thinkers or feelers, while others are a nearly even mix of both preferences. Our focus is the primary dimension we lead with when managing others.
Managing others requires doing what I call flexing your style. That means meeting others where they’re at. Every person you manage comes equipped with his or her own specific personality. Such fun!
Start by dropping any expectation that others will change their basic personality to suit your whims. They won’t. They may learn new skills, expand their reach, deepen their commitment, and increase their productivity – all with your expert guidance. However, fundamental personality nuances are here for the long haul.
This is where flexing your style kicks in. Armed with a solid handle on who you are, you can be on high alert for the subtle, yet constant bombardment, of cues your staff sends out about how they like to be treated, what motivates them, the type of language that resonates, and the way they process the world. These vary from person to person, so get busy!
Once you get a handle on individuals’ styles you can calibrate how you motivate and communicate. Everyone remains equally accountable for the work product. Just how you contribute to their professional development varies.
What works for one person won’t for another. A feeler craves positive reinforcement. A thinker wants a schedule and guidelines.
Discover a version of management you don’t hate because it fits who you are then adapt your style to customize how you manage and motivate your team for vastly improved results…productivity (if you’re a thinker) and morale (if you’re a feeler). You’ll form stronger rapport while increasing your team’s dedication and output.
Ms. Zack is CEO of Only Connect Consulting, Inc. (www.myonlyconnect.com) and author of Managing for People Who Hate Managing (Berrett-Koehler 2012) and Networking for People Who Hate Networking (Berrett-Koehler 2010). Her books have been translated into 12 languages, and she provides keynotes and seminars internationally. She consults to dozens of Federal agencies including TSA, IRS, Treasury, U.S. Education, and U.S. Patent & Trademark. Follow her at: @Devora_Zack