Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Managing Management

I've been pondering my management style.

It's weird to even call it a style because the way I manage simply reflects who I am and what I believe is the correct way to treat the people. Apparently, though, "management style" is a big deal, with entire libraries, graduate schools, and certifications centering on it.

My management style is pretty similar to my parenting style, actually. If I have a choice to praise or criticize, I choose praise whenever possible. I think it's more effective to say "I trust that you'll do a good job" (which is motivating) than "I expect that you'll screw up" (which is paralyzing). I'd rather approach an honest mistake with "we're all human" than with "mistakes can't happen." And I'd rather be easily approachable than easily angered.

My biggest problem as a manager is that I want too much to be liked -- and managers can't always be liked. Today I had to send this e-mail, knowing that it would upset some people on my staff and thrill others (parking in downtown Seattle is a huge deal -- expensive and coveted):

"After much thought, deliberation and consultation, I've decided that there's no one parking policy that will make everyone happy, and that I'm going to just need to be the bad guy/good guy on this one. So here it is:
1.) Parking spaces in the building garage will be assigned on a start-date seniority basis.
2.) For those parking off-site, the company will reimburse up to $30 per month for bus passes or parking expenses.

Within a few moments, one person told me she felt "hosed" and another expressed great delight. I hated to piss anyone off, but sometimes I'll just have to. Any parking arrangement that was fair to one person turned out to be unfair to someone else -- and I just have to deal with the fallout.

A few weeks ago, my boss told me that he deliberately looked to hire someone with a completely different management style than his -- and he definitely found that person in me! Interesting thing is that one person reports to him (that'd be me) and seven people report to me. I think that was also intentional on his part. So I manage completely differently than I'm being managed -- and that's quite a challenge! The good thing -- and the thing that will save my sanity (and possibly my job) -- is that he is a very self-aware person and that we are completely open with each other, hashing things out honestly, discussing different philosophies, solving problems and anticipating challenges together.

Let's hope we both survive each other.

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blackcrag said...

Well, I'd work for you! On th eother hand, you also sound like a pushover boss... one to go for a sob story if I wanted a sunny day off.

Come to think of it, any sunny day in Seattle should be a city-wide holiday anyway.

Dixie said...

I like your style. I've had bosses like you before and I always thrived under them.

And I think you made the right decision about the parking situation. It's the best compromise you could have made.

c said...

I think your parking solution was brilliant. Who can really argue with parking spaces by seniority.

The only other way that I can think might work is 'the early-bird gets the parking space,' each day the first to arrive get the best spots, which might make them hurry on in to work.....

I would like to work for a manager like you.

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