Generous Management is a Two Way Street
February 5, 2009
Happy New Year! Well, work trumped blogging a lot towards the end of 2008. There was a lot of work orienting new employees, general end of the semester/year craziness, and then preparing for the new associate department head’s arrival. There have been a lot of posts brewing in my head and I figured now is a good time to share some thoughts.
A friend of mine recently reminded me of a post over at Brazen Careerist that I had bookmarked. It is focused on good management and stresses the importance of generosity when managing people. I agree with Penelope on pretty much all of her points, but my mind can’t help but go one step beyond where she ends. It is absolutely true that the good managers are the ones who give generously of their time, patience, skills, and mentorship. A good manager checks in with staff on a daily basis, listens to their feedback, addresses issues and concerns, provides the necessary resources, and dedicates time to developing their stafft. I get behind all of this and try to practice this in my management style. The last paragraph of the post is what hit home for me:
“So really, management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code. Some people will self-actualize through management. Some, a combination. But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. If you allow it. You will need to set aside real time to make this happen. And you need to give generously. No big surprise there, though, because why else are we here, on this planet, except to give to each other?”
Reading this started the wheels turning in my head. The holidays put the wheels on pause, but then recent discussions at work and home this week got them spinning all over again. The big questions I keep spinning around: What happens when you get little to nothing in return? What happens when you get nothing but negative back? How can we as managers build something from little to nothing?
I’ve been thinking that the short answer is that it means you’re in for a lot more work as a manager. You need to dig your heels in, find the small, but significant battles to win, and every now and again pull the rug out from under people in an effort to facilitate change. Failure is always a possibility.
Sometimes I feel like management is treated as if we are not allowed to have feelings or needs. Sometimes we have to swallow a lot that in situations other than work we would never stand for. I love a challenge and I love to give of myself, but sometimes it can be a very draining, unrewarding experience. No one wants to hear or talk about that side of the coin, but I think it is time.