People managers, pasok!

What do you like / dislike about being a manager?

How do you deal with difficult teammates?

Share naman kayo ng tips on how you motivate and engage staff to be more productive at work.

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My then-boss (who basically was my mentor on people management) gave me a book on leadership when I became a manager. She gives that book as a gift to her mentees the moment they become managers, so I got one too.

A line in the book encapsulates what I feel about managing people: The price tag of leadership? Your time, your commitment, your personal energy and involvement. It will cost you yourself.

It’s so personal to me that I feel it makes me a better person - in that it makes me think of others’ welfare while at the same time makes me know myself better. Downside of course, during moments when I just want to be selfish, there’s less control, I cannot just do things without considering the situation of my one-downs/ teammates.

I can’t seem to put any framework to my style, but it all starts with building trust and getting to know your teammates well, and showing empathy along the way. When there are new joiners, or if I just joined a team, one of the first things I do is to set up 1:1 meetings. Objective of the meeting is for us to be comfy with each other, set expectations, lay down short-term/ longer-term devt plans, talk about their motivations and aspirations, their preferences/ styles, what makes them tick, do a bit of quick inspirational stories about my own career journey, do some personal digging (to an extent your teammate is comfy sharing). Then, pre-work for the meeting is my favorite color personality test - this has worked effectively for me. It helps to discuss the results of the personality test, what it means for me and for him/ her. For example, I’m a yellow/ dilawan person (like a sanguine type) and my teammate is a green person (like a melancholic type), then I tell him/ her how we are likely to get along and any watch-outs for potential conflicts, and also identify what strengths/ weaknesses are second nature to us. Right there and then, so casually we can already talk about our mindsets and common behavior.

As I said, along the way, showing empathy is critical. I need to make them feel that I am with them. The first set of challenges you face as a team is commonly painful, but it’s the best opportunity to demonstrate that you are somebody they can trust. Show the lengths you will go to, like taking the bullet for the team, carrying the burden, executing parts of the task, being hands-on if needed, etc. Once you get over that phase, it becomes way easier down the road. Some may say your teammates might abuse this kind of approach, but I have never encountered that yet. What I know is I’ve gained their trust, and they’ve become more committed to do better. I’ve seen results that make me cry out of joy.

There’s also a whole lot of topic about the importance of immediate and constant (constructive) feedback. And then another on situational leadership - whether you need to direct/ coach/ support/ delegate. I also subscribe to that framework.

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^ +1 on empathy

What I dislike about managing people are the difficult conversations on performance. Came to a “traditional” (i.e. puts premium on tenure) company a little over 2 years ago and I wiped out 4 of the 5 employees in one department under me. Now I’m just waiting for the ECQ to be lifted and will move the last one out. I will always remember the conversation I had with the manager of that department (~20yrs older than me) when I eased her out: “This is my first job and all the things I do, I learned from this company. It’s sad that it did not prepare me well to live up to your expectations.” I realized how unfair it was and it broke my heart.

The most fulfilling part for me, on the other hand, is when I am able to mentor my staff really well and see them develop over time. One of my more hardworking staff grew so much from practically zero to a good business analyst now.

On difficult staff: clear expectations out. The clearer it is, the better. Para walang sisihan, ‘ika nga. Don’t be afraid to stir things up if expectations are not met. You need to build the proper culture in your team to make it work properly. There will be leaders and draggers and those on the fence. It’s up to you as a people manager to ensure that the culture makes those on the fence to follow the leaders and not the draggers. Eventually even the draggers would follow suit. But always be empathic. That’s how we get away with difficult conversations without breaking too much the morale of the team.

Bottomline - people managers make so much impact on the lives of the people we work with. We just gotta make the most out of it.

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What I disliked about being a manager is makipag away with other managers to protect your team, without me setting a bad example.

And add to that if your staff belongs to different nationalities/age group/skill set/motivation level. You have to adjust your communication style according to their personalities.