“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Arguably, Roosevelt taught us one of the most important lessons in management. Yes, it’s frequently written and widely known, yet it is the most misunderstood. The common meaning for this and what most people take away from it is if there’s something unpleasant that needs to be done, managers should join in.
There’s more to it than that.
Management isn’t about asking people to do stuff. If you think that it is, that’s the heart of the issue right there. Regardless of what the environment is, creative workers rarely – if ever – respond to being told to do anything, let alone something unpleasant.
How Managers Come to Be
The challenge usually comes with how managers transition into their roles. As an employee, all they had to worry about is getting work done. As a manager, they have a whole “team” of people. They worry about whether employees are getting work done, how well it’s being done,employee satisfaction, hiring the right people, firing the right ones and so on.
I would say that’s kind of a big deal.
On the flip side, it’s a big deal for the people that now work for them. They’re worried about changes, your opinion of them, promotions – the list is truly endless.
People learn, grow and develop. But the shift in mindset to first person – “the project” and “the team” to “my team” and “my project”- creates issues.
Linguistically, there is a huge difference and the use of first person plants seeds of doubt. This habit manifests itself in ways that ultimately bug the team and harm the culture of the work place.What follows is what I have the most experience with and can honestly say kills whatever creativity that was beginning to bud within my roles and responsibilities.
At this point, managers start to believe that the team is there to support them and make their life easier. This results in the manager asking people to do things that benefit them, and not the people or the work.
Determining Management Culture
Can I answer this myself? Managers are busy, yes we all know that. But as busy as they are, they should always work to find the answers themselves first and foremost. If you worked your way up the ladder, you know where to find them.
Will this help people do their best work? Making assumptions about how people work and what helps them work efficiently is a big no-no. Yes, there are rules and systems in place. You can even be completely in touch with your work, but chances are, creative people will have their own ideas of what’s helpful and what’s not.
Did you define success? Most managers assume that correcting, tweaking or optimizing work for the team helps, but it doesn’t.They need to be able to frame the problem and show the team what success actually looks like. Leadership is not about “how”. That’s usually the role of the employee. The focus of the manager needs to be on the “what” and the “why”.