John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
If you’ve made it to the rung on the ladder where you’re managing others, congratulations. You deserve credit for the hard work – and no small amount of patience – it took to get there. Your boss has shown you that your contribution has been appreciated, and you’re ready to apply your experience at a higher level.
Your attention needs to be not only on reaching upward, but in building the base beneath you that can allow you to climb further. When it comes to the second responsibility, are you actually training or merely complaining?
A paradox of professional growth is that the more you learn and the higher you climb, the easier it is to forget what it was like not to know what you know now. Once you’ve finally “figured it out”, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting your junior staffers to do the same. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Growing in a manager role requires patience. The staff who work under your supervision simply don’t have the understanding and decision-making ability that you have. Keep in mind that at one time, you didn’t either. Being curt, or brusque, only teaches your staffers that they shouldn’t come to you with questions and problems. And that’s how little issues turn into big ones.
One of the abilities you’ve developed is being able to “connect the dots”. You know when today’s Project A is much like Project B of two months ago, and how to take advantage of the parallels between them. You also know when there’s no parallel at all. Your less-experienced staffer may tend toward a binary view in which those parallels always – or never – exist. You will strengthen your staffer by taking a minute to discuss the distinctions that are second nature to you.
Very few of us are “born” people managers. Even the best had to learn much of what they know. Sometimes that learning requires outside reading on the subject. Bookstore (and online) shelves are full of material to help you. Is there a class, or maybe a webinar, you’ve discovered that you’d like to take? Don’t hesitate to ask your boss for help. It’s an embarrassing truth that bosses can be as uncertain about how to help you grow, as you are about how to help your staffers grow. A conversation with the boss about what is expected of you can also be helpful.
If you find yourself complaining about the performance of a particular staffer, it might be evidence that there’s not enough focus on training. When staff are ignored, they get bored. When they get bored, they quit. And then you have a worse problem.
Climbing on up the career ladder successfully requires looking out for the people on the rungs below you.