[IMGCAP(1)]As a new manager, I’ve been looking into a number of books on the subject of management, and I’ve noticed that they all have one thing in common: They’re kind of depressing.
Don’t misunderstand me; they’re useful—in some cases hugely so. Until you’ve actually had to manage people, you can’t imagine the difficulties involved, and good books on the subject are your best way to be prepared. You will, after all, need to find ways to resolve inter-office conflict, to motivate the terminally disinterested, to get six-person jobs done with four-person teams, to keep smart employees engaged and dumb ones out of trouble, and generally to move a whole bunch of people around and off and on the bus, all while driving the bus on twisty mountain roads in an ice storm during an avalanche.
So, these books are a little depressing, because they focus—as they should—on the difficulties. But that leaves new managers thinking, “What was I thinking? No mere human being can do all these things! At least, not for this salary!”
Basically, all these books are scaring new managers at exactly the time when they most need re-assurance, so I wanted to take this opportunity to let all my fellow new managers know that it’s not all bad. Being elevated to management may mean more work, more responsibility, more paperwork and more headaches, but I’ve discovered it also has some hidden—and very surprising—benefits.
Here are just a few of things that have happened to me since I became a manager:
• I got more interesting. People are now willing to listen to me for much longer than they used to. Previously, people were always asking me to “Wrap it up” and “Get to the point,” but now, at the staff meetings I call, I have become so much more compelling a speaker that no one interrupts me. To test this, at a recent meeting I spent 45 minutes reading sections of the Staten Island Yellow Pages aloud. Everyone listened attentively through the whole reading—and none of them even live in Staten Island!
• I got more persuasive. Previously, when I wanted someone to do something for me, I had to explain not just what it was, but why I wanted them to do it. But now I’m so much more persuasive that all I have to do is say that I want done. “Wait a minute,” you may say, “if you’re the boss, they have to do what you say.” That’s true—but I’ve never had to point that out to them. (OK, to be honest, there was one time when I had to explain to someone that his job depended on doing what I told him to do, but that was enough—I’ve become so much more persuasive that I didn’t even have to explain why picking up my drycleaning was valuable to the company!)
• I got funnier. People laugh at a lot more of my jokes, even the ones that they previously said weren’t funny at all. Even my edgier stuff goes over better—the kind of jokes people used to complain were “offensive” or “inappropriate” or “evil.” Now, no one says a word when I tell one of those jokes. (I’m big enough to admit the alternative possibility here, which is that everyone else’s sense of humor simply got much, much better after I became their manager, but seriously, does that seem likely? Isn’t it more likely that I just became funnier?)
The fascinating thing is that these changes happened almost overnight, and with no effort on my part. So take heart, fellow managers—you too can expect to become funnier and more interesting. It comes with the job!
Next week: I get taller
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