Are you wondering what is it like to be a manager? There’s lots to think about because it can be a whole range of experiences! I held a managerial position for about eight years that had a huge impact on my career. Some experiences were great, some were just so-so and others were downright crappy.
But I learned so much in those years about myself, the individuals in my team, other managers and a lot about office politics that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. I’m going to share several of my first-hand insights below to help you get a closer look at what a management career can be like.
The great things about being a manager
Coaching. I’d say the most rewarding aspect in my career as a manager was being able to coach young employees. Many members in my team came right out of college and had never worked a 9 to 5 job before. Ah, those fresh, young, malleable minds. One thing I prided myself on as a manager was caring deeply for each and every one of my employee’s well being.
I wanted each of them to thrive and get the most they could out of their jobs and grow. I hope they could tell I was sincere and wanted the best for them. Perhaps I came across as a bit too particular at times, but I cared about the work we did and wanted them to do good work. I remember clearly when one of my employees told me how much she liked working with me before I left and that meant a lot to me. It’s really rewarding to be able to help people!
Delegation. When I first started taking on a managerial role, it was a little challenging for me to let go of some tasks. When you’re so used to doing everything yourself, it can feel really weird to start asking people to do things for you instead. But once I became comfortable with delegating, I loved it and I think you will too. Not only did delegating save me time, it also allowed my team to learn new things in the process.
Seeing and participating in the bigger picture. I loved being able to attend closed door meetings. I learned a ton about my own manager, other department heads, our clients and our company during my years as a manager. It really helped me to get a clear understanding of the bigger picture and helped me contribute and make my own impacts in the process. I also enjoyed being one of the first to hear about new initiatives and being in “the know” about a lot of things going on around the office that most people weren’t aware of.
The so-so things about being a manager
Patience. I’m a pretty patient person by nature, which came in handy. Being a manager will definitely teach you how to be more patient, but it can also test the nerves of even the most patient of folks like me.
A few things that would drive me crazy were how terrible people could be at following even the clearest of directions (this happens way more than you may realize), when my employees missed deadlines, and/or simply didn’t care about the quality of their work. It was incredibly wearing on my patience when a couple of my employees stopped caring about their performance and those around them.
Personalities. Unless you start a team from scratch comprised of your own clones, you’re going to have to deal with a range of personalities. This can be both good and bad at the same time, which I why I classify this as a so-so trait of being a manager.
Naturally, there will be some personality types that you find a lot easier to work with than others. Screening during the interview process can help, but often times you won’t get a true picture of what someone’s personality is really like until they’ve been on the job for at least a month or more.
In order to manage your team effectively, I strongly suggest you stay flexible. Don’t assume you can manage everyone in your team in the exact same way. You’ll get better results if you stay fluid and adjust your management style and how you communication with people on an individual basis.
The crappy things about being a manager
Retention. Man, keeping people happy can be a lot harder than you may think. We had a really difficult time with retention at my company and this became extremely waring on me as a manager. Could some of that have been my fault? Sure. But there were many things out of my control like low compensation and difficult clients that led to a lot of turnover.
There were countless days when I spent so much time interviewing for new hires that I didn’t have any time to do anything else. If your employer has a low rate of turnover, consider yourself very lucky. Although interviewing candidates is a fascinating process that will teach you quite a lot, it can get old real quick if your company has a revolving door.
Stress. The number one thing that I disliked about being a manager was the amount of stress that came with the job. How much stress you could face will be entirely dependent on your sector, resources, workload, corporate culture, team and the strength of your support system.
For me, I was under pretty constant pressure due to the nature of my job, constant turnover, pressure from high-demand clients, tight deadlines and self-imposed pressure as well. Talk to other managers at your company to try and gauge what types of stress you could face in a similar role to theirs before you dive in.
Politics and dysfunction. There’s nothing much worse than going to work and feeling powerless and irrelevant because things are becoming a total sh!* show around you. Fortunately I didn’t feel this way during the majority of my time as a manager. But it became pretty clear when I was in my most senior role and burning the candle at both ends.
The higher I got in rank and the more dysfunctional our company became due to leadership changes, the more I began to realize the politics and decisions being made at the upper levels of the company were headed in a downward spiral.
I really started to lose hope that I would be able to continue managing people effectively in my own way. I also stopping believing I could make a positive impact or keep my employees happy because the company execs were not reorganizing the company effectively.
They started creating too many mandatory micro-managing policies and compensation caps that were sucking the life force out of our teams. Hopefully you won’t have to face something similar, but just know that companies are constantly evolving and they could move in a direction that impacts what you can do in your job as a manager.
Find your niche
Being a manager is an incredible eye opening experience that will teach you so many things. Oh the stories I can tell… 🙂 I’m grateful that I went down the management track because of the experiences it gave me. I definitely became a much stronger, more confident person on the other side. It also also helped me a make a heck of a lot more money in the process.
Now that my career has taken a different direction, I no longer have any desire to hold a managerial position but I’m glad I got to experience it. I’ve had my fill of hiring and managing people. Now I happily just manage myself and projects. If you think you’ll be happier being your own boss and not having to manage other people, focus on building your brand. A great way to start is to launch your own website to market your brand and services. If you’re unhappy in your current job and want to break out and start something new, I also strongly suggest you read this e-book and learn how to negotiate a severaance package. I did and it changed my life!
If you’re still not sure if you want to be a manager, try not to stress yourself out about it. Don’t be afraid to experiment or try something new though. And if you’re scared you’ll be a terrible manager, don’t worry! You can do anything you set your mind to. And remember every person who has been a manager, including me, had to learn all of their skills from scratch too.
Untemplaters, have you ever held a managerial role? What were some of your most and least favorite things about being a manager? What do you like best about your boss?
High turnover – check
New employees – check
Draining personalities – check
Politics – check
Helplessness – check
Dat $$ – check
Hey it’s like you have some kind of crystal ball over there! Good article.
Full Time Finance says
In the last few months I’ve transitioned back to a regular employee from 3 years as a manager. I can agree with your assessment. I’m noticing the further I get from my old position the less stress I have. Mine thankfully wasn’t driven by my team but rather management. The flip side of understanding what goes on behind the scenes is sometimes you see just how screwed up it really is.
Management was insightful but crazy stressful for me too.
Finance Solver says
Being an entry-level employee, I haven’t gotten to hear the other side of the coin of what my managers go through. Interesting read. The company that I’m working for is invested so heavily in their entry-level employees and I love it! The compensation is the lowest offer that I’ve gotten from all of my offers but the people are so friendly and I am able to talk to higher-ups because they are receptive to the program that I am in. It was hard to put a monetary value to that so I took the job and so far, I’m really liking it.
Glad to hear you like your job! Consider yourself lucky. So many people are miserable every day so it’s great to hear you enjoy your opportunity.
If you find an employee is miserable everyday, you can refer them to EAP for personal issues or build a better working relationship with them, understand their skill sets, working style and be a better manager so that you can get your needs met and meet their needs and get the most out of your employee. When I was that same employee, I was led by inexperienced managers that did not fully understand how much of an impact they had on me and it was also my fault for under performing and not seeking guidance on how to meet performance standards. Eventually, I got fed up with it, voiced my opinion that I needed more guidance and direction and wanted to be the best that I could be. I almost got fired, but speaking up saved my job. I then exceeded managements expectations afterwards, while pregnant, had excellent attendance, top performer as I was before my slump (employee of the year with in 5 years of being hired) and I was promoted to being supervisor. I needed a new family car as I had just had a baby and everything fell into place. I fully understand now how much of an impact being a supervisor or manager has on so many people’s lives, health, and their families well being.
What a wonderful turn around story! I’m so glad you spoke up and were able to get help and work your ways towards a promotion! That’s wonderful to hear. Thanks for sharing!
Financial Slacker says
Good post, Sydney. I can definitely relate..
I’ve been a manager in some form for most of my 20 years.
My favorite experiences as a manager came when I was overseeing higher level professionals. Most were people with more experience than me – although that became more challenging to find as I’ve gotten older. These folks required very little in terms of hand-holding. Instead, I could focus on setting direction and eliminating road blocks so they could do their jobs without interference and disruption.
My least favorite experiences came when I would get caught in the middle between senior leadership making demands that conflicted with the needs and abilities of the people I managed. For instance, when poor upper-level decisions created problems and you couldn’t promote people who deserved to be promoted. You would see great people leave and there wasn’t anything you could do to stop it. The experience is very frustrating.
I have to say that now that I’m more of a solo operation, I enjoy not being a manager for the first time in a long while.
yeah, it’s so tough when you get stuck in the middle of situations like that. It’s nice not having to deal with manager problems any more.
Financial Samurai says
The most stressful time in my career was when I was a manager. It was maddening to manage completely clueless and self entitled college graduates who drove $50,000 SUVs to work and thought they should’ve been paid and promoted faster without putting in the time.
The main reason why I do not want to grow Financial samurai bigger is because I do not enjoy managing other people at all. It is so much more enjoyable to make decisions quickly and be more free to do whatever you want. Turning a lifestyle business into a large corporation is exactly counter to the whole point
The turnover situation at your firm must of been such a royal pain. What is worse than spending six months training somebody for that somebody to leave six months later? Forget it!
Yeah, I have no desire to manage employees anymore. Lifestyle business is the way to go!
Money Beagle says
I was a manager for a few years and I would by and large agree with it. There are times I miss doing it simply because of the “I know I can do as good or better” type mentality that creeps in from time to time but then there are times when I’m reminded of the crazy stuff that I don’t miss at all, and I’m OK exactly where I am.
Yeah I think all of us managers each have our fair share of crazy stories! I’m glad to have that behind me too.