When you first became a manager, you stepped away from the "individual contributor" role where you were evaluated on your own performance. You became a manager and instantly became responsible for far more than you could ever produce on your own. You became responsible for the production of your team.
Things to Know About PeopleNow that you are responsible for the output of a group of people you need to know a few things about people:
- People are individuals
Despite all the generalizations that will follow, it is important to remember that no two people are alike. They have individual dreams, individual worries. Their minds work differently. They hear and see differently. And they are motivated by different things.
- People are messy
No, not in the sense of spilling food in the lunch room and leaving it there (although some do that too). Rather in the sense that they are unpredictable. They get angry. They get worried. Sometimes they cry or shout or sit alone and pout. No matter how long you work with people, you are never completely sure of how they will react.
- People are selfish
People watch out for themselves. They know that no one, not even their spouse, is as concerned about their welfare as they are. They may not know the best way to get it, but they know what they think is in their best interest and they go after it. Some are better at it than others, but all of them want it.
- People are generous
People are selfish, so how can they be generous too? See the section above under the heading of people are messy. They are generous because even as they watch out for themselves, they work for the team to help others get ahead too. They are going to get their perceived fair share first, but as soon as they do, they look out for others.
- People are fickle
What worked last week, or even yesterday, may not work today. The reward or challenge that motivated someone earlier may no longer work simply because something has changed in their world. The gentle nudge that yesterday worked as a word to the wise has today been completely ignored.
- People are afraid
Some people are more afraid than others. Some hide it better. But everyone is afraid of something. Whether it is fear of losing their job, or of looking foolish in front of others, or of missing their quota for the first time in ten years we all have fears. And until you address their fears, people will continue to focus on what worries them instead of on what you want them to do.
People Are FunAll of the individualities above are what make people interesting. And that is what makes them fun. As a people manager you will never have a boring day. Some days will be better than others. Some days will make you want to scream. But none of your days will be boring. If you don'’ find people fun, don’t go into management because it will sap every ounce of enjoyment out of your day otherwise.
People Want To Be LeadAs their manager, you should also be their leader. If you don’t lead them, someone else will. It may be another employee in the department (because leadership is a skill not an attribute of a title) or it may be a manager in another department. But they will follow someone and that someone will be their leader.
One key thought to remember as a leader is that people can’t be pushed very far or for very long, but they can be pulled a long way. As a leader, it is your job to get out in front with the vision and pull your people along.