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Lessons of leading people

Is being a manager becoming a less attractive route of growth?
Challenges and triumphs of being a manager in today's world.

Being a manager today is tough. There's no way to put it otherwise.
The job is becoming more and more demanding, less and less attractive and sometimes even painful.
No wonder career paths of becoming experts are sought out more by top talents.
I work closely with a wide array of managers in global companies: young managers, one's with seniority, managers who have a tight hold over their teams, those who really love developing their team members, those who chose the managerial path because it was the only way to get promoted.. all sorts of managers who at the end of the day all have one thing in common – they are responsible for their team's performance and want to do the best job possible.
I too an a manager and find is to be a winding road of challenges.

When people ask me if I like my job as a consultant, I reply "for sure" and it's because in my day to day interactions I see how helping out a manager can truly have a significant impact on them, their teams, their managers and even their families – I've never met a miserable manager who was a happy person at home. We all take work home because it occupies our mind and that's what I strife to balance, to help people problem solve, become more self-aware, flourish and nurture others.

Processes of coaching is one avenue that I engage in to help – managers bring real-life dilemmas and conflicts to troubleshoot with me. I help them see the whole picture, develop areas of management that they are week at and help them become more confident. Another channels of development I facilitate are group workshops that in my eyes are tremendously powerful because peers share insights, best practices and receive feedback that helps them evolve in their positions.

As a manager myself I feel that I constantly learn from those I consult and those I manage.  I asked a manager that works in a leading tech company that I recently consulted to interview and tell me about the challenges of managing today.

Maya: Tell me, what in your eyes are the most difficult challenges managers deal with today?
Yoni: There are many!

Employee retention is definitely the biggest – we work in a sector where mobility of employees is one of the largest in the economy. There are always companies that offer new challenges and sometimes very high wage jumps, it is difficult during the churn and routine to find time to invest in the employee's growth in other directions that will enrich his knowledge world and keep a high level of motivation over time, I expect this problem will get even worse as the younger generation enters the labor market and tends to break the standard work conventions.

I would say the next challenge is maintaining a sense of team "togetherness" consisting of people with a variety of capabilities (development, testing, UI, etc.), different cultures (remote teams + local teams, more and more common today) all working in cooperation to achieve one common goal. There are quite a few communication problems, cultural differences, working styles, etc. that do not always connect, there are conflicts that require the manager to be very flexible in the way he/she thinks, demands we try new things.

To me another challenge is parallel management of a number of concurrent domains – Today's manager is increasingly required to be a multi-tasker and to manage multiple operations simultaneously, making it difficult for the manager to go into details in every field and to build a backbone of people to rely on. Maintaining long-term strategic thinking rather than tactical thinking of "extinguishing fires" is a challenge.

Maya: What do you enjoy most about managing?

 First of all, working with a wide range of people, being able to connect with any person and make them a part of the whole system, advance them on a professional level, challenge them and make them part of something significant.
 Seeing the bigger picture – I enjoy managing a wide range of projects and processes from a broad and comprehensive view, connecting the goals of the team and the organization. I can not be in a place and role that will not allow me to develop in these directions.
As a manager I feel that I have the ability to influence and I have a platform to be more meaningful in the organization I work in. This is one of the things that drives me on personal level.

Maya:  What is important to employees today? What in your eyes really motivates them?

Feeling meaningful and valued; Being a part of the process, to see a broader picture;  Work life balance; Being challenged, learning and developing;  Being rewarded according to their skills; Being in a place that gives them freedom to manage their time, flexibility and work; Good atmosphere in the workplace.

Maya: Any tips for managers?

– Be attentive to the employees under you, the colleagues around you and the managers above you.
Think big, try, take chances, change, look from different angles on things.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes. More importantly, do not be afraid to admit your mistakes to your employees. It shows your  confidence to the employee and that it is okay to make mistakes if you learn from them.
Take breaks to think within your daily madness and try to look at what is happening and think about what can be done differently.
Brainstorm with co-workers and colleagues work, encourage openness, which always leads to positive results in the long term.

Yoni is one of the most courageous and positive minded managers I have had the pleasure working with. He took risks with his team that proved to be beneficial.
From my experience, employees seek nurturing and teaching from their managers, millennials today are constantly wanting to learn and grow and this is don’t by investing the time in our manages. Feedback is a very important tool that creates a basis for dialogue and should be used constantly. I quite often find that managers are scared to give hard feedback but those are sometimes the crucial growing points that benefit an individual's growth the most. I too am still crafting my feedback-giving skills but truly am a believer in communicating the tough and not only the nice.

Managerial training, Mentorship training programs, a new innovative peer learning product called Coaching Ourselves and other programs are just an example of the way Lotem's Global Team can help you navigate your management and teams.

For more information and to get to know us better, please feel free to contact us!

Written by Maya Epstein, Team leader and Client Relations Manager.
Maya specializes in leadership development, team building and managerial coaching.

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