Management 101

At some point in your life, whether for your job or a volunteer activity, you might find yourself responsible of a group that is working under you. This can be intimidating if you do not have management experience as you are in charge of the group’s success and any failure that cannot be traced to a specific person will be put on you. In addition, if you have ever worked on a group project, which most of us have, then you know exactly¬† how difficult and infuriating it can be to get everyone to cooperate and do their tasks on time. However, management can also be empowering if done correctly. I’ve learned quite a few things from my management positions which I hope you can learn from as well.

Out of all the lessons I’ve learned, communication is the MOST important. If your employees do not understand what is being asked of them, they will not be able to perform to your expectations. You need to be clear when giving instructions and allow them to ask questions, even if they seem stupid. It takes much less effort and time to answer a question than it does to deal with the consequences of a mistake.

In a similar vein, they should also feel comfortable coming to you with concerns or comments about the job being done. They are the ones working firsthand to complete the task whereas you are more removed. This means they have valuable perspectives that can greatly benefit the team. While you might be in a position of authority and have the final say, ignoring your employees can greatly harm morale and will ultimately harm productivity.

Furthermore, assumptions are something that should be avoided. When explaining something to an employee, it is better to be too elaborate than not clear enough. While you might think something is pretty obvious and therefore doesn’t need to be explained, you need to remember that people have a wide array of experiences that might not coincide with your own. My favourite example is how I’ve had to teach not one, but two, people how to sweep. Something I had thought was such a mundane task was not so.¬† You will come to learn that common sense is not as common as you think.

Still, it is important to be understanding. As mentioned before, people come from many different backgrounds which means they might not have encountered the same things you have. You should also be there for them in difficult situations and empathize if they are being less productive than usual. Everyone has bad days times when they are not feeling as great as usual.

On the other hand, you need to be assertive as well. If you notice an employee is slacking off on a regular basis, you need to approach them and ask what the issue is. If the problem is with the job, figure out what it is and work together to solve it. If they are simply being lazy, you need to be upfront about it. This does not mean being bossy but instead you should clearly delineate what the consequences will be if they continue and the effect it is having on the whole team. It might be difficult as you do not want to ruin the rapport you have with your employees but the fact is you both have jobs to do and making sure everyone is doing their job is yours.

With time, you will find ways to navigate the issues of management and will learn from your mistakes. Do not stress yourself out if things aren’t going as planned. Just like you know your employees will make mistakes, you need to accept that you will as well. So long as you learn from them, you will be able to find your own management style and make your team as successful as possible.


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