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?