It’s 2am and the only thing I’ve effectively managed to do is stay up way past what should be my bedtime. Somehow official work hours disappear in the blink of an eye, somewhere between meetings, interruptions, and small tasks requested of you that end up taking longer than anyone else might expect, not to mention your daily distractions.
There must be a much more effective way to successfully manage all aspects of life; if there’s anything I fail at most it’s management. If someone gives me a project to do with some sort of general framework, I can get it done. The second I’m tasked with competing priorities (personally and professionally) things go to shit. And that is why I’m still awake at 2:16am.
I’m also thinking, and concerned, about a conversation I had with the one person I manage at work. While I’m bad at managing myself, I’m absolutely terrible at managing other people. To be honest, I haven’t had a lot of experience in this area so I have to learn somewhere, but some people learn management skills from their parents and others don’t. I’m in the don’t camp. I’m in the “get beaten and degraded until you do what they want” camp. Not to say good managers couldn’t have been put through that sort of upbringing, but I can’t imagine it helps the case.
What I did wrong — very wrong — is that I assigned a few projects to the person who works for me, and I tried to be “hands off” but in the end was not thrilled with the result. More so, my boss asked me to revise the projects, which I can’t do in a few minutes. Or maybe someone else could, but I can’t make a few tweaks and be satisfied. I thought it would be a good thing to bring this woman into additional projects that were important, but it turned out the projects didn’t get completed on time and she feels like I’m taking credit for all the things that did get done and blaming her for what didn’t. Which, I don’t think i’m doing entirely, or on purpose, but I get why she feels that way.
It was a failure on my part in management, clearly, but I’m not sure where exactly I went from going right to wrong. Should I have not assigned her the project to begin with and taken it on myself? Should I have given more specific instruction and “micromanaged” up front in order to produce a result more in line with what I was expecting? Should I just stop expecting some artistic perfection in language and layout, when that matters a lot less than just getting the materials created?
In any case, in my second attempt at management, I’ve broken down a lot of the trust in the relationship and I think it’s going to be impossible to regain that trust. The biggest trouble I have is properly complimenting and using positive feedback to motivate behavior. Again, the only positive feedback I heard as a child was if my makeup looked good or if my art was better than anything created by my peers. Either I was perfect (or better than everyone else) and deserving of praise, or I was bad/wrong/not good enough.
Clearly one can’t manage that way, nor should they, but I struggle with being positive consistently, even when someone is doing a great job I can’t bring myself to offering praise all the time (and this person DOES do a great job at a lot of things, she’s really smart and talented at many things I’m terrible at). But I feel like every aspect of praise that comes out of my mouth seems fake and insincere. Maybe it is.
But aren’t the best leaders often sociopaths who know how to praise and prod their subordinates to world domination (or something like that?) Ok, so not every brilliant leader is that intentionally manipulative or successful with these intentions, but as I observe the best leaders they seem to all have some sort of highly controlled, magnetic charisma. Their words are all so effortlessly perfect, carefully improvised to get exactly what they want done. And somehow, when the results aren’t as expected, they manage to provide this news in a way that encourages revisions for the better, instead of just a lot of resentment.
There are many ways I can improve as a manager, but I fear it will take, at the very least, to the next company to regain trust amongst my peers. They do trust me for certain tasks I am able to complete, and see my value there (or at least I hope they do) but as a manager, my credence is shot. I just wonder if I have it in me to manage other people at all. I’m terrible at being friends with other people and am dating the only person in the world who is more socially awkward than I am, so why should I be remotely efficient at management? Maybe I should research and pursue a career that, unlike the one I’m in now, doesn’t require leadership or management skills (yea, I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t go out and get an MBA a few years ago.)
Instead of re-thinking my career, I’d like to just become a better manager. How can one do that when the person you manage doesn’t respect you or your feedback? Or that you are unable to communicate effectively and so they just get upset at you for attempting to provide any sort of input? I have a hard time not walking over the fine line of micromanaging if I want to give any input at all.
At my last job, my manager was extremely degrading to her subordinates, especially the other guy who worked under her. She would constantly talk to him in ways that I felt were completely inappropriate and belittling. I don’t think I’m that bad as a manager, but I’m sure there are times I’ve accidentally come close. I guess it all goes back to not assigning the project to someone in the first place if you think you might have to micromanage it. The challenge is when you have too many projects on your plate and you need to delegate, but you don’t necessarily have all the players in the process to distribute the work to. You’re already short-staffed and you aren’t able to have multiple people on your team with clearly differentiated strengths and weaknesses so you can balance projects this way.
The result of all this is my becoming paranoid; I already don’t like myself and assume everyone dislikes me, so it doesn’t help matters when I give them good reason to do this. I don’t really care about being liked anymore, but I do want to be respected. And respect is something I’ve only figured out how to lose over time. I’m not the type of person people want to be around. Words come out wrong every time I talk. I most like working on my own projects from start to finish with no one else or few others involved.
But even if I’m not cut out for management, I still need to figure out how to effectively manage in my current professional role, as well as to manage my own life so I’m not working 90+ hours a week, sleeping less than I should, and spending the rest of the time like a zombie watching marathons of old television shows, with so little time to dedicate to my boyfriend, and no time at all to dedicate to friendships and real hobbies (vs watching tv and Facebook.)
I want to believe it’s not too late to fix this relationship at work, but I don’t know how. Everything I do from this point on will seem insincere. I can be a totally hands off manager (which at this point I probably have to be) and as long as I just make sure I hand off the right projects, I don’t need to get involved. But the moment I want to provide input on a project, I will not know how to approach this, and ultimately I will either not say anything or will and, of course, it will come out all wrong, and I’ll be back to square one.
God, I wish I wasn’t such a social imbecile. And I wish my parents taught me something about managing effectively growing up. I don’t know what on earth I am going to do when I have kids. If I don’t figure out this management stuff now, they are going to hate me for sure.