Down to Business

For Managers’ Eyes Only

Since I’ve already written to the Culinary Elite it’s time that I go back and write to my first love. My true love. Managers!

It is my belief that some people are leaders. Some people are managers. Very few people are both. I also believe that you can teach a leader to be a manager but you cannot teach a manager to be a leader. Leadership is an innate quality. You either have it or you don’t. If you go to an elementary school yard at recess you can find the leaders. Then fast forward 20 years.

As a fellow manager, I took the liberty to do some leg work for you. I’ve given it some thought and I think I’ve come up with the keys to your/our future success.

With that being said – Managers, this one is for you!

Be humble. If you can’t be humble, be quiet.

Most managers are aspiring entrepreneurs. As such stop complaining about “working for other people”. You learn to work for yourself by working for others. Better to learn from their mistakes than your experience. You expect other people to work for you some day, right? Do you want them getting up every day complaining and only concerned about their agenda as opposed to yours? Furthermore, never complain in front of your team/subordinates. Save your woes for your own peers and/or upper management. If they hear you complaining they will do the same and think that it’s the cultural norm. Complaining is like a bacterial infection. It spreads before you even knew it existed. And just when you think you got rid of it it re-surfaces.

Be modest.

You start out flashy and over indulgent. Buying equipment you don’t need. Designing a layout that is more aesthetic than functional. Training two people to do the job of one. Then after the market changes and/or you evaluate the numbers you’re scrambling around trying to trim the fat. Being over the top sends your business over the edge.

Be happy.

Enjoy what you do and be challenged by it. The circumstances will push you to the limit at times but go in guns a’blazing the next day. Every day is a new opportunity to go back to the drawing board. Find the joy in your work. Do more of the things that motivate you and enhance the environment.

Be yourself.

Your personality is not for everyone. Accepting that will ensure peace of mind. People may not like you. The may not allow you to forget your mistakes. You are challenged with the task of learning from it and moving on. The sooner you can do that the better off you and your organization will be. Don’t apologize for being yourself but instead be highly aware of how your habits, your attitude, your words, your tone, and your verbal, non-verbal, and written communication effect everything around you. Adjust if you need to; but maintain your authenticity.

Be selfless.

The only time it is about YOU is when you clock out. Your job revolves around the needs of everything and everyone around you. That’s the job. You chose it. Deal.

Be able to delegate.

The attitude of “if I want something done right I have to do it myself” is your Achilles Heel. Your time is not best spent doing everything yourself. The operation should be so streamlined that it can run without you. That is the mark of successful management. Work on building a team of people who can carry out tasks just as well as you. Cultivate best practices, enforce policies and standards, delegate assignments, cross train and/or build people up to take on more. People generally want to be entrusted with more. Your inability to harness that is a flaw.

Be firm.

You may internally hem and haw over a decision, plan, or course of action. Once it is laid out to all invested parties you must be firm and consistent in carrying it out. People need to trust you word and your decision making. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. (Matt. 5:37) That doesn’t mean you won’t make a wrong decision or things won’t go in a different direction; but it shouldn’t be because you wavered or were indecisive or indirect.

Be tactful.

While it’s important to say what you mean and mean what you say… as my dad always reminds me “it’s not what you say it’s how you say it”. One of my favorite golden nuggets from him. I am consciously thinking about my delivery at all times. Now, I will admit that there are times when I want people to know I am emotional about something and I shoot straight from the hip. But for the most part, I always exercise tact. Don’t feel like you have to give an immediate response in every scenario. If you’re too upset or don’t have an appropriate answer, take in all of the information and schedule a follow up. It’s always better to address tough issues when the smoke settles.

Be a chameleon.

You must manage people based on their needs. Adapt to their personalities and preferences. How you engage with one person doesn’t work for another. How you motivate one person doesn’t work for another. How you reprimand one person doesn’t work for another and so on. Your team/subordinates out number you. Unless you can adapt the majority will rule, and not always in your favor.

Be a jack of all trades.

Managers are cheerleaders, counselors, friends, prayer partners, parents, siblings, security guards, referees, politicians, principals, and everything in between. Managing people is the hardest part of the job. People will come to you with all kinds of issues, great and small – both personal and work related. Learn to play multiple roles and fulfill their needs (within the realm of possibility).

Be last.

He who is last will be first and he who is first will be last. (Matt. 20:16) The manager should be last. Your needs come after everyone else. Your leadership is dependent upon your service and self-sacrifice. As a leader I always serve others’ needs first. I take my breaks last. I stay late. I don’t move on to the next thing until I know everyone’s needs are fully met. I am the leader. But I lead from behind, pushing everyone into greatness.

Be about your business.

Fulfill your managerial duties before you roam about checking on everyone else’s progress. Whatever tasks you are assigned should be at the top of your priority list. Because while you’re walking about like a roaring lion people are waiting on you to provide timely and concrete answers, updates, feedback, and status reports. An inability to perform your job can cause you a world of frustration. Which you’re bound to take out on everyone else.

You clearly have what it takes, otherwise you wouldn’t be in your position. But ask yourself honestly: Are you a leader, a manager, or both? What does your organization and the people around you need? Are you the person to provide it?

If you’re satisfied with your answers then proceed. Heed my advice. But more importantly, share your own. We management folks have to stick together. It can be lonely at the top.

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