How to become a better manager

We all know that people don’t quit their jobs because they don’t like the company or what they do. They quit because of managers. So I dedicate this article to the managers — the ones that drive people crazy and make companies lose good talent.

I’m writing about this topic, so you can imagine that I believe I’m a good manager. Hard to believe? Don’t worry…I will try to prove it, and at the end you will be able to judge me based on the provided facts.

I have managed people face-to-face and remotely, and have helped build communities of passionate individuals around cool products. As explained below, the overall reaction was always positive.

  • Real People: They knew that I would always be there to help and support them, and was always a realist who pushed, but never exploited anyone. Fun fact: I tried to give clear goals, but was unable to do so because of the CEO above me. Sad, but true…more on this later.
  • Remote Freelancers: I’ve worked with more than seven freelancers through oDesk, and all of them have said that I’m something else — the best client they’ve had.
  • Communities: The most common comment I’ve received from developers was the following: “If it weren’t for you, I would never have done it.”

How do I achieve this?

  • Total Respect
  • Clearly Outlined Plans
  • Specific Goals

Total Respect

The person who works for me is not my slave; this is another person who has a life and feelings. This person is there to help me out, and has decided to spend most of his or her day with me. I should respect that.

I always give tasks that clearly explain the problem at hand. If I want a specific problem to be solved in a specific way, I write a detailed explanation. Once this is set, I never change the plan; otherwise, the person working on the project becomes frustrated and angry, which creates tension and a poor result.

Pro Tip: As you progress through any project, you get new ideas. Write them down, and use them for the next project release (software, hardware, or what have you). Stick to the plan, change as little as possible, and make improvements in the next version.

I always set clear goals that are reasonably achievable, and also fulfilling. I set the bar a little bit higher, to inspire the person to do a great job. Thus, the person feels great about reaching the set goal.

A manager must give clear and specific tasks, and then let others solve the problems as they see fit.

Employees are NOT Slaves!

Telling someone, “I pay you, so I own you” is so stupid and wrong that when I hear someone say it, I always want to smack the person in the face! You pay someone else because you want a skill set that they have, you are renting just that — you do not OWN a person! Employees are not slaves!

And Now…the Kicker

If the job is done badly, poorly, and the result is not what you envisioned…well, it’s your fault! No one else! You were not clear enough in communicating your specifications and goals.

To make it super clear: You, the manager, fucked up. Not the employee. And it is you who should take full responsibility for the end result.

How Can You Become a Better Manager?

It’s hard to learn to respect others, if you don’t respect them already. But there are two ways you can improve:

  • Create Clear Specifications
  • Set Clear Goals

This will solve part of the problem. But if you lack the ability to respect others, employees will still know that you are a bad manager, and they won’t come to you for help or to report that there is a new problem down the line, and deadlines won’t be met…

…which will create tension, stress, etc. You need to be aware of this. But, back to improving project planning…

Find yourself a company that offers Virtual Assistants, like Brickwork India. They are great at doing any type of research. The question is, how can they help you to become a better manager? Simple: If you won’t give them a clear plan, you will pay a huge amount of money, because the poor guys and gals will just run in circles, and since you have to buy packages of hours, the money will be gone, and you can’t stop it.

Over time, if you are truly willing to learn, you will nail the specifications and set clear goals. Then you will just pay for the actual work that they do. Once you achieve this, you will be able to manage people.

About respect…well…you are just a bad person. Try to become a good one.

To CEOs and Top Management, Alike:

Look for the following traits in managers:

  • Honesty
  • Diligence
  • Respectfulness
  • Organization
  • Focus
  • Strong Morals

To the Managers of Managers

If a manager is blaming the staff below him, you have a proof that this is a bad manager. There wasn’t a clear plan or solid goals, meaning he or she did a poor job.

If you still have hard time understanding: Fire the guy, not the employees below him. The poor people below him busted their asses to make sense of the mess he created. They should be rewarded, not punished.

No Perfect Manager

I started out being managed by some very crappy people, and I thought that this was what being a manager is all about; scream and make someone else’s life miserable. But I always scratched my head…If I don’t like this type of treatment, why should I do the same to others? I experienced the typical manager, but I never accepted it as right.

My first position as manager was with one girl below me. Thankfully, the CEO of the company gave me freedom and never told me how to manage someone. Because of this, I turned out to be a nice manager. She was happy, I was happy = good life. But to be honest, since I never had to experience managing anyone, I wasn’t so sure I was doing the right thing. I had all these memories of bad managers that I had had, which I was suppressing.

After this job, I had another one, where I managed the girl I had managed before, plus two others (long story short: two companies merged). In this second managerial position, I learned the hard way that, no, my way is the right way, even if it wasn’t the common way to manage: respect, clear tasks, and a consistent goal.

And so, when I had the opportunity to manage three lovely girls, I had mixed feelings. On one side, I knew how they would feel if I became a typical manager. But, on the other side, above me was a crappy CEO, who demanded that I squeeze everything possible from the girls, while not giving me clear tasks, and changing my goals on a daily basis. Meaning that I wasn’t able to provide a well-thought-out plan and goals for the girls.

So, not setting clear goals, and treating them in not the greatest way, resulted in a mess — of course.

After a few months, I came back to reality, thanks to the first girl, whom I had managed before. She told me over and over that my way of managing was poop. And so, after I realized what I had been doing, I changed, and…was then moved to a different department, because the management wasn’t happy with how respectfully I treated the girls.

What is the Point?

The point is that a manager or CEO is someone who manages the resources at hand, including money, people, and company assets, in the most efficient way. His job is to keep people happy and on track; remind them why they come to work every day; and which goals to work toward. Also, you have to provide them with support when they make mistakes, so that they learn from the experience.

You are not there to micromanage or do things more quickly. You have people below you to help you out, and you should respect that!