I have recently been promoted to head a division as its manager, and I have charge over three supervisors and 10 associates reporting to them. All of us, including myself, are technical people. I am both happy and anxious about this career advancement because, to tell you the truth, I don’t like responsibility over people. When my superior told me about my promotion, I told him that I preferred a promotion to a technical position as I admitted I had neither skills nor inclination to work with people. I can not be passionate about work that includes important aspects not related to my preferred interest. However, my boss assured me I can learn if I put my heart into it. He also told me that he would make me take leadership and management seminars to help me. Can I really learn? Is it just a matter of the heart? How? Will taking a training program change me?
I agree with your superior. You can learn to like doing management functions if you put your heart into it. I can think of three ways to do this. First, start with a paradigm shift; change the way you think. Replace the negative thought of “I don’t like to handle people”, with the positive, “I can work with people and I will like doing it.” How do you bring about this paradigm shift? It is very important that you see the benefits to you, to your company and to your subordinates in performing a management role. In a technical job, you do the tasks by yourself; in a manager’s role, your associates do the tasks so that you can deliver the results that you are accountable for. To accomplish this, you develop, coach and motivate them to do these tasks according to standards that you communicate to them assertively.
In his book How Will You Measure Your Life, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor wrote: “If you want to help other people, be a manager of people. If done well, management is among the most noble of professions.” Indeed it is!
Benefits to your subordinates/associates. A manager with responsibility over people (one can be a manager with no one reporting to him/her) has the responsibility, the opportunity and the satisfaction of contributing to the growth and development of people. You coach them to do tasks better, can observe how they grow in their levels of competence, can detect those with potentials for future management roles in the organizations, and contribute to their career advancement. You promote their work engagement and contribute to successful completion of tasks. You help them experience job/career satisfaction and motivate them to continue being productive and be assets to your company. One of the important factors that disillusion talented employees and make them leave the company is the lack of opportunities for growth and development and for career advancement.
Benefits to your organization. A feature article on Ms. Fatima de Vera Francisco, the only female and first Asian to hold the position of Global VP for Sales and Marketing of Global Proctor and Gamble, quoted her as saying that: “The most important role of a leader is handpicking the right talent, giving them challenging roles and continually investing in their development so they become future leaders of the company”. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday, October 9, 2011, B1)
By mentoring your direct reports whom you consider to be high potentials, you not only develop the competencies required for future positions, but also shape their attitudes and values in line with the culture of the company. After coaching and mentoring your direct reports, you have the opportunity to follow-through to see if they have acquired the competencies and have grown in the process. Through your own role modeling and the skillful use of positive reinforcement, you are able to develop good and positive habits that become the foundation of a good character.
Benefits to you. By increasing the value of your employees, you benefit as well. By developing your employees, you empower them to contribute to your own success and to your own career advancement. As you see them grow and develop, you experience a sense of pride, achievement and fulfilment which enhances your self-esteem and self-empowerment. Very important, you perform your stewardship accountability by sharing with them your God-given talents to increase their value to your organization. You can not experience this intrinsic satisfaction and joy by working with data and things.
Second. Just do it. Talk with your employees while looking at them eyeball-to-eyeball, and listen to them attentively when they speak to you. Compliment them sincerely for doing the right things. Give recognition for successful task accomplishments. You will learn effective communication skills, giving of positive and corrective feedback, giving them different types of recognition, etc. by applying the skills you learn from leadership and management training programs that you attend diligently and seriously. The practice of leadership and management skills such as those of communication can be one of your daily work objectives leading to your own professional growth. .
Third, give yourself a pat on your back when you have pleasant interactions with your associates. Proof of pleasant interactions is that they approach you, ask you for your opinions and suggestions, and feel comfortable in your presence. As you observe these approach behaviors on their part, you will feel good about yourself and about them.
Sounds simple? It is if you make things happen.
God bless you as He gives you the grace you need to shepherd the people your company gives to you.
Josie O. Santamaria is a professional psychologist, certified life coach, a career coach and management consultant. She is the president of Career Systems, Inc., a management and human resource training and consulting company, operating for the past 29 years. For more information about her and Career Systems, Inc., log on to www.careersystems.com.ph. She can be reached for work/career issues thru her email address firstname.lastname@example.org