How To Be A Manager

I used to manage for a 3rd party vendor for Johnson & Johnson’s sales force, and I learned two ways. 1. Trial and Error  2. Education.

Which is better? Of course Education is and I can’t stress enough that just because you “worked” as a sales-person or a technician for many years provides you with an automatic manager’s badge. Knowing the business from end-to-end may make you a great “runner of the business”, but does it make you a good leader? Not likely.

I found many types of managers in my tenure and I’ll label and describe each.  If you fall under any of these – please take to heart and make necessary adjustments so that your quality of work and life are improved.

Personality 1 “The Dictator” (The Ruler)
Most managers that followed the route of climbing the corporate ladder and are suddenly put into a position of leadership, tend to become – in simple terms “jerks”.  Receiving a title of “MANAGER” boosts an ego but is translated to the beholder that they now have to RULE.  These managers are horrible to work for, but sadly things do get done under their reign, but never with a smile.

Personality 2 “The Buddy” (BFF)
This is the total opposite of the Dictator.  The “Buddy” manager!  These usually don’t last very long. Humans need leadership. If a father or mother acted like a friend to their child, what level of respect to “rules” and “principles” do you think the child will follow? Most likely only the ones the child “wants” to do.  When a choice between a child’s interest and yours as the parent are at hand where there is a lack of respect and authority the child’s choice wins.

Adults are just bigger children – and when we are told to “provide service” to an employer or manager that is not respected or on the same level as us – the idea that we have an accountability the child in us easily comes out and you find your direct reports are coming in later, leaving earlier and/or delaying in production.

A twist side of this management type which I particularly can’t stand this type because it’s a managerial game where you as the worker may have a high level of self-respect and want to perform well.  Yes the game played if management is “Work Is Fun! Fun! Fun!” and we have a bunch of donuts and cookies but no one grows.  Even with performance reviews are “You are great!” but no promotions or praise. But who does get promoted are their “true buddies”. You screw up a company with this mentality. I prefer a dictator because at least there is motivation to work.

Personality 3 “The Reactor” (to be frank I call this “The Lazy One”)
This is a blend of 1 & 2 where we stopped being the worker and become the manager, without personal discipline and accountability we think pointing the finger at a project and telling someone “Do it and get it done by this date” that we can lean back and wait for that day to come. Suddenly you’re asked to provide managerial metrics and you don’t have them and NOW you “React” as Manager!  You hope high but when you find out your workers are behind the fear overtakes you, but the child in you doesn’t want to be wrong! So you become belligerent, finding ways to save face and blame the workers.  If this is your way – then you need to learn how to manager, and take to heart you can change and become better.

My Ideal Manager?
1. They remember they are a fellow human with a job.
a. We all work to support our “real life” and hope to go home with a smile to our families. You as a manager effect the emotions of your workers. How do you want to be portrayed at your worker’s dinner table?

2. They look out for the interest of their direct reports (Career path, Health, Performance etc…)
a. It is a kindness pointing out flaws! Yes – a kindness.  Granted this reveals the maturity in your workers if they are truly interested in performing and making a living. As hard as it is – we always remember we were and still are in ignorance of “Something” and at one time were assisted to grow. A humble and tactful approach will always be received well.

To Illustrate: You assign something to an employee, they say “OK, I got it – I’ll get it done”.  Now 3 days go by and you follow up and find out they didn’t know how to do it.  You reaction?  Kindly state “<Name>, help me understand, you mentioned you knew what you were doing, what happened? [Wait for Response].  From here excuses may come, or they may be honest.  The end result regardless is they did not communicate with you even if something tragic occurred.  You counsel them kindly but firm “Listen – it’s been 3 days you could have easily asked for help and now we are behind schedule – so what do you need?”.  After that project is done you should have a follow up 1-on-1.

3. Keep a Journal of each employee (worker)
a. I did this for my technician’s in which when it came time where I felt a promotion was due, I had a folder of metrics and experiences that would tell the VPs, HR, Share Holders WHY this person should be compensated and KEPT at the company. If you don’t know the skills, accomplishments of your workers you will be unable to give a raise or promote them even if you tried, and you will have many people hate you.
b. If your company doesn’t have performance reviews, then create your own. When you assign tasks and goals, measure them, log them and counsel when necessary.

4. Kind Reminders
a. Some companies an employee can get some 200 + emails a day and sometimes things get missed. If you see no reply form a worker on an action item, a kind ‘private’ reminder would be nice. This also can help you track their diligence, it’s find if they miss one email task, but if they miss even a reminder – something is wrong.

Don’t forget to kindly remind yourself.  I’m not the greatest of Outlook Calendar users thus why I use day planner.  I love snoozing alarms to my detriment.  But paper you can’t dismiss what is written.  So make sure you have each member’s tasks listed, what they need, or follow-ups to be done etc…  You must “work” for your team as a manager.  An orchestra conductor is not just a person who waves a wand back and forth like we tap our foot to music.  The conductor is extremely important, yet not a sound comes out of him.

5. Continuing Education
a. There are many short-term classes at colleges or even books. Classes like “Leadership & Motivation”, “Time Management”, “Root Cause Analysis” etc… These are IMPERATIVE to take!  So continue to sharpen your skills as a manger. A title does not make you the professional just as a Marriage Certificate does not make the master Husband or Wife… It all takes work and remediation.

These are the key areas, but I hope you get the idea. I wrote this in one sitting and In time I’ll make it more succinct, and add more tips. Overall – “DON’T ACT”. You have a job and so do your workers – Period. Respect is a key and should be bi-directional.

Useful Tools
1. Franklin Covey Day Planner (
a. As mentioned I like written paper – I don’t care so much for digital because there is so much happening on a laptop or phone. A day planner is all about “What should I be doing now? What should I plan for?”

2. Proper use of Outlook (if you use MS Outlook Exhcnage)
a. I see so many use Outlook incorrectly. Use Sub-Folders to organize your emails into projects; not by names of people. Keep “Action Items” in your inbox that you have to process. Move informational emails into sub-folders.
b. PST (Personal Folder) – this is the offline folder where it doesn’t sit on a server and in time get archived. I have two every six months:
i. SAVED_DELETED_jan/jun 2013
ii. SAVED_SENT_jan/jun 2013

b.  Outlook also has ability to create ‘conditions’ where if you get an email from “Mr. SoThatsIt” it will appear in the color you want.  So if you’re Joe Smith you can also set up a condition that if anyone emails you as Joe Smith, the email text will be in a color other than default black.  It helps me not to miss emails.  It just doesn’t work if they email a distribution list.

3. Knowledge Base
a. Companies should have an Online-Knowledge base. The “Wiki” or “Share Point” is great where anyone can upload documents or create lesson pages. I don’t care for “Shared Folders” but it’s another way if that’s all you have.