Management is not about asking people to do stuff
Steven Sinofsky

You’ve written an article that would be an excellent conversation starter in any ‘supervisory training’ or ‘new managers’ orientation’ group huddle which is scheduled — for ‘talking story’ about it, as we would say in Hawai‘i.

New managers allow their employees to saddle them with an expectation that goes like this: “You, as my manager, should be able to do whatever you’ll be expecting me to do.” Managers have to let go of that baggage, because their job is a different one, and one that complements that of the employee, their direct-report, as their valued partner in the workplace. You make a good distinction in your article, with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote highlighting fairness as the “basic civility” you mentioned, and willingness.

The correct expectation should be about a supervisor and manager fostering worthwhile work, i.e. work that yes, they’d be fully willing to do it too if it was their job to do so, because it’s work which is important, meaningful, fulfilling, and worth doing. Thus, they support it, not by doing it too, but by working on the overall workplace culture in which that employee can thrive.

This is the reason I’ve always felt managers need not be able to do everything their staff can do, though they need to be able to understand it thoroughly to value it, short of accomplishing it themselves. Far better I think, to have the attitude that they leave it to the experts — the staff they admire and support.

Thank you for writing this, I’ll be sharing it with my own team as well.

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