This article isn’t specifically about high ed web, but I do hear a lot of high ed web people talk about having difficulties with their boss or struggling in the transition to management. A lot of times we think being the boss is all glamorous, but it is really anything but that. Maybe you manage people or have a manager that you just can’t respect. Hopefully this article will help you understand the situation a little better. After all, knowing is half the battle. In this case it isn’t just about knowing it is about understanding why.
Managing Is a Completely Different Skill Set
Before we even talk about the service side of management I think it is very important to realize that managing is unlike any previous jobs an individual may have had. If you are a great web developer or writer this will have minimal impact on your ability to manage a team of web developers or content writers. Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? The Peter Principle states, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” I had a boss who used to talk about this all the time, and I think it is very true.
When people get into management it is usually when they hit this “incompetence” point. Think about it. You spent your whole career getting better and better at specific skills and then all of a sudden your job is to manage people instead of actually doing the job. It is no longer your job to do that skill. Your job is to “manage.” Nobody starts their career off as a manager either.
When you think about someone who is a micromanager it is because they have a hard time letting go. You see, the reason they were probably promoted is because they were the best at some specific job and it’s rare that the person replacing them will be as good at that job. This is where the “teaching a person to fish” tactic could be really effective, but commonly we see the manager takeover and try to do both jobs and everything goes downhill.
To Manage Is To Serve
It has been years since I reviewed the 12 Elements of Great Managing, but if you go back and review those twelve elements they are all presented in the perspective of the employee. You see, doing a good job of managing is all about your employees, not you! Managing a team isn’t about you the boss. It is about how you empower your employees. For a company, school, organization or whatever else to be most effective then every individual needs to be executing on all cylinders. It is actually more important for the foot soldiers at the bottom of the org chart to be executing more effectively than managers because they simply outnumber them. So for example if there are 10 employees and 1 boss it is 10 times as important for the employees to be executing.
Where this model falls apart though is when they don’t trust their manager or won’t work for them. It is for this very reason that the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT responsibility of any manager is to take friction and hurdles out of their employee’s way so that they can be more efficient and effective. A manager’s job really is in serving their team, not the other way around. I think it is this core belief that single handedly determines the success of a manager. A manager must be transparent, a manager must be a team player, a manager must be a great listener, but most importantly a manager must be humble.