Stepping into a Pile of Management

outta hereMy boss told me that the only difference between management and non-management is that managers get to hire and fire (so you’d better get good at it). Truth be told, she said this during a somewhat negative performance review.

That’s a blunt way of saying non-managers are responsible for tasks while managers are responsible for people.  When you are a manager you get your work done through other people.  So whether you are good at it or bad at it, whether you like it or not, you are now in the people business.  You may understand this in theory, but before you actually do it you cannot imagine just how much of your day can be eaten up by personnel issues.  The intense drama of human existence is played out daily at every work site, everywhere. Here are a few employee issues that you might end up dealing with at some point:

  • Health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, alcoholism, depression, PTSD, heart attack, multiple sclerosis, organ transplant, back injury, carpal tunnel and other repetitive stress injuries, obesity and related illnesses, miscarriage, panic attacks, age related illnesses, and onset of senility
  • Difficulties in personal life such as house burned down, child custody battles, divorce, deportation of significant other, death of spouse, or a chronically ill child
  • Cultural and religious adaptations such as accommodating prayer, avoiding unintended insults, and ensuring sensitivity
  • Personality, behavioral, and work ethic issues such as sexual harassment, rudeness, incompetence, tardiness and absenteeism, bullying, use of social media, gossiping, and general slacking off

It is amazing to me that I have dealt with nearly every one of these.  No wonder we just want to cut to the chase and say “You’re getting the job done, A+; you’re not getting the job done, outta here!”  But of course human beings are not machines, not merely the means of production.  Sensitivity and flexibility are needed.  Consequences are required, but employees first need to know what you expect.  They need a chance (or two) to improve when they have done something foolish.

Swift progressive discipline is vital.  Like any sport, it is only learned by doing.  As I was writing this I ran across this entertaining post by CaveGirlMBA about an employee playing Farmville at work.

Knowing how to listen and encourage, great.  Knowing how to reprimand, excellent.  Willing to fire, priceless.

One comment on “Stepping into a Pile of Management

  1. cavegirlmba
    October 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank you for the reference to my article – a light-hearted take on a serious issue, which you describe well. I am blessed in not having had to deal with all the issues above!

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