Before I get into my story for today, I would like to ask: What does the term ‘bad manager’ mean to you? Have you encountered any? How did you manage them? What did you learn, and how are you applying the lessons to advance your career? How important is it to build a positive and productive workplace relationship with your manager? How well do you know your manager’s expectations and personal values?
I worked with more than ten managers in my 20 years as an employee, and I am not trying to give you any inspirational talk, but I never experienced a bad manager. Instead, I only experienced a plethora of diverse opportunities to sharpen my relationship and leadership skills for my personal growth and career advancement.
I understood the burden of leadership very early in my career, having started my career as a manager, so in addition to forming an opinion and acting only based on my personal experience with people, these philosophies guided my workplace relationships:
Every manager has a major headache (work-related problem) that they want cured, so it was my responsibility to diagnose the headache (find out what the manager’s problems were), discover the medication (solution), and dispense the medication (help deliver the solution) to ensure the headache was cured. I used this card to manage my career and my relationship with my managers, and it never declined. Moreover, it was my career, so navigating all obstacles and roadblocks was my responsibility.
I also recognized that people are different, and as such, their disposition towards me and issues will be different, so I made excuses for my managers, and didn’t have any expectation of a particular leadership behavior/style from them, and this helped me a lot in maintaining my cool.
There was this instance that I was appointed the HR manager for a ‘business location,’ and I received what I would term as “condolence” messages from my colleagues when the announcement was released as most people perceived the Location Manager as a bad and wicked manager who had ruined the careers of many individuals. I typically do not allow stories to influence my reality, so I resumed with the mindset to have my own experience; I eventually had an excellent run with this manager and even earned a double promotion. Amazingly, our relationship extended beyond work, and to date, we remain buddies.
How would you act differently if you took the relationship with your manager(s) as a project for your personal growth that you must succeed at? What skills do you think you would need to be able to navigate every workplace relationship and manage people across a broad spectrum of personalities and values? How committed are you to making every workplace relationship work for you and serve you?