The Biggest Mistake I Made As A Rookie Manager
Recently, Ed Barrows, an expert on strategy planning, execution, and achieving breakthrough performance of teams, and a long-time professional acquaintance, was interviewed by BNET’s Elaine Profeldt for her piece â€śMy Biggest Mistake as a Rookie Manager.â€ť
All of the interviewees contained great lessons, but Ed’s was particularly relevant for me because of not entirely dissimilar circumstances in one of my early management jobs, although Ed’s Marine experience was certainly more intense than my office environment.
I’m pretty sure my mistake wasn’t taking the job…
My experience from many years ago involved an established office, older (than me) employees, and typical management challenges. While I dealt with everyone equitably, I spent what I came to realize was an excessive amount of time explaining almost every decision a few who always had objections, and working with others to simply create a usable work product.
It was easy for me to listen, ask questions, and make a decision. I learned – the hard way – to listen, ask questions, make a decision, and inform the team of the decision without equivocation. Obtaining buy-in or achieving decisions through collaboration was desirable, but not universally achievable. Organizational goals needed to be met even if the entire team couldn’t be brought to consensus. I spent easily 80% of my time dealing with a few who may have benefited more from being helped in becoming successful elsewhere.
Bottom Line At The Time: I was way overstressed due to the time spent ensuring a fraction of the team accomplished their jobs, and easily worked 55- to 60-hour weeks for several years to get the rest of the work done, simply because I just knew a little more time would make the entire team equally productive. Wrong. Sometimes, team members don’t fit the team regardless of how much of one or two particular skills they possess; team members must function as integral parts of the whole, or the whole suffers. And managers must develop the confidence to make unpopular decisions, the skill to explain them, and the ability to inspire the team to move ahead. And, sometimes, to identify skilled people who don’t need to be on the team.
Read Ed’s interview here: