If anyone ever told you that managing people was easy than they were messing with you. Or simply in denial. Managing people is tough. Perhaps the toughest part and something that you must come to terms with is that not everyone thinks like you. Every person is different and has different backgrounds, morals, and values. This is what makes people interesting, but it’s also the part that makes managing people tough. As a manager it’s your job to try to understand where people are coming from in order to understand how to properly help them and you achieve the necessary goals.
Set clear goals and expectations
I recently came to a realization as I was looking at a syllabus for one of my last classes in graduate school (personal kudos to me!). In school it’s clearly laid out what you need to do to receive an A. This includes clear guidelines on assignments, deadlines, and resources (to a point). This is an important thing to keep in mind when managing people. It’s important that you communicate your expectations and the deadlines for the work. There are so many times in my early phase of people management where I would be frustrated because people are not getting the work done in the timeline that I had in my head. Well that was the problem, the deadlines were in my head and were not clearly laid out somewhere in writing. The same issue occurs with priorities or general work needing completion. The somewhere in writing could be as simple as a whiteboard, email, or even a conversation. The important part to keep in mind though about a conversation is that you have to make sure that what you’re trying to communicate is clear. A conversation in passing or one that’s mixed up with a lot of different topics is not a clear outline of your expectations.
A very effective way to communicate goals and expectations is through a weekly meeting. While I understand that it can be an inconvenience to consistently hold a weekly meeting, it’s usually a very effective way to communicate your goals and expectations. It’s a great time to check in with your staff and find out where they are with their projects. It’s also a great time to communicate your work load and to discuss upcoming work.
Patience and understanding
I used to manage in the “what if”. Such as “what if this person being five minutes late to today’s meeting means that they will be late for every meeting from this point forward”. Also, “what if this person struggling with this one part of the project means that they are not going to be able to get this project done”. People have lives. People have things going on in their lives that makes them be really focused one day and a complete mess another day. People also have skills, talents, and training that work with some parts of projects and not with others. It’s important to show patience and understanding to your employees. It’s important to communicate your expectations of projects in a kind and understanding way and for the little stuff that doesn’t really matter, wait to have a conversation until the behavior starts to turn into a pattern. Or if it really doesn’t matter, let it go and focus on the important things.
The above mentioned points are thoughts that have come about based on past experiences. There are always going to be exceptions to the things I’ve written but I hope you find some of the points helpful. Stay tuned for next week’s part two on managing people.