Being a Manager – Easier Said Than Done

We all want to be liked and respected; however, as a manager that is sometimes easier said than done. The goal is to be to be respected, but being liked does not always come with the territory; and that is ok. As they say, “you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”

As managers we are accountable to someone else in the organization, or to external stakeholders, for being sure the mission and business objectives are fulfilled. Sometimes that accountability goes counter to the desires of our employees and we have to say “no” or give direction that employees won’t like. Be genial; try not to bark orders; be approachable. But ultimately the work needs to get done effectively and efficiently and it is your responsibility for making sure everyone is on board.

If you oversee a manager that struggles to set clear expectations and then follow-up appropriately because they are afraid of being disliked, it may be time for some coaching. Start by making sure that they understand what the performance expectations are for them and their team and what their role is as a manger. New managers, in particular, frequently struggle to understand the difference between getting the work done themselves and working through others to get the work done effectively. Help them see the impacts that being too accommodating can have. Not only can it have an impact on getting the work done, it can have substantial impacts on the team environment. Other employees know when one employee is not effective and will grow to resent the situation, and the manager, if the issue is not dealt with. Then the manager has an even bigger issue.

The next step is to help them find ways of effectively communicating clear expectations and feedback to their team. This includes both positive and negative feedback. Finally, help the manager understand that poor performance by an employee can negatively impact their own outcomes and work as well, thus causing potential negative impacts to their own job. Demonstrate for them how to effectively communicate, be respectful and still hold people accountable.

We frequently find that new managers or managers who still have significant production responsibility, struggle with the management role of setting expectations, giving proper feedback and confronting issues up to and including termination if necessary. They frequently know something is wrong, but may not be willing to or know how to have the necessary conversations. Sometimes getting them headed in the right direction is as simple as setting expectations for them. It might mean a conversation where you point out that continued negative performance within their team may mean a negative review for them and then coaching on how to fix it.

Ultimately the manager needs to be held accountable for the outcomes of their team. Helping them gain the communication and management skills they need to do so, is up to you.