Reflecting on Management

It has been five years since I moved into management.  I was promoted from being a senior staff member (Enterprise Architect)  to the Manager, Business Application Services and Enterprise Architecture at BCIT.  Over the past few weeks, I met with many colleagues and friends that I work with for a farewell coffee or lunch.  (See my earlier post: My New Adventure)   The topic of how to transition from being a staff member to management comes up regularly in these conversations.  Personally, I am still amazed that 5 years has flown by.  I have been fortunate to be part of an amazing team at BCIT and to collaborate with many people throughout the higher education sector in North America.

After all the talks, I distilled my management approach to three key factors.

  1. Respect people – everything you do as a manager starts and ends with people.  If you always start from a place of respect, you will earn respect from those around you.  The real take away is to always assume that the person you are interacting with actions are based on them making the best decision with the information they had at the time.  Assume good intentions first.  Outcomes can be unpredictable but assuming good intentions gets away from the blame game and moves your discussions to problem resolution.
  2. Honest communications – be honest in our communication.  If the basis of your communication is honesty, people will trust you and appreciate that you are genuine in your interactions.  Sometimes being honest means saying “Sorry I can’t tell you that” and that is ok.  Consistency is key here.  Recognized that sharing is more powerful than not.
  3. Hard conversations – these are never easy because you have to tell someone their actions or behaviour are not acceptable.  If you delay these conversations, there are three negative impacts to your team.  The first is that the person is not performing or behaving in a way to help themselves or the team (in some cases, the person may not even be aware of the negative impacts).  The second negative impact is that the person’s teammates will assume that you as the manager don’t care because you failed to deal with the issues.  The last impact is that the person’s peers begin to adopt the same negative behaviours and then the problem compounds.  I can’t count the number of nights I have lost sleep before having one of these “talks”.  I do know that once you have the conversation, there is a way forward for the person you spoke with and yourself.

I believe that taking these three simple steps allows anyone to be a manager that is trusted and respected.  I am very interested if you have any feedback or suggestions for me to improve my approach.  In the end, everything we do as managers starts and ends with people and the real hard work is in the middle!