Life In Lower Level Management – Being friendly without being friends

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The relationship you have with your team members is an ever changing experience – It is a privilege to be in the position of team leader (or corresponding job role.) You are a cross between a mentor, teacher, confidant, peace keeper, shoulder to cry on… and sometimes the authoritative figure among many other things.

You want your team to perform to the best of their ability, this rests highly (but not solely) on your relationship with them. You take their performance and general well being very personally. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one they have fighting their battles and other times their behavior can drive you mad. But where do you draw the line between boss and friend?

This is a particularly tricky thing to decipher if you have progressed up in the same office or department, your once colleagues and friends become your employees and the dynamic changes.

Everyone is different and will view your position / role / promotion differently – it is in your employees best interest (as well as yours and the businesses) to remember that you are not friends. You are there to manage, whether that be through being a shoulder to cry on or by being the authoritative figure. It may sound blunt, but can you really make the best decision for your employees if you are looking at them through the rose tinted glasses of friendship?

The answer is no.

You do not need to run out and start burning bridges with those friends you had made that have changed from your colleague to employee, but you have to remember to keep it professional. It will ALWAYS be in their best interest if you manage them as a boss and not a friend. It’s also correct to treat everyone fairly. I would use the friendship to have a good working relationship with the person, but otherwise keep the friendship out of the office environment.

Of course, you may have to deal with employees that did not start out as your friend. Quite simply.. remain fair, professional, approachable and caring. You shouldn’t treat these employees any different than you would anyone else. Everyone responds to a different management style but the fundamentals are always the same.

I will touch on dealing with challenging employees at a later date.

American author Travis Bardberry said “More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts”




Life In Lower Level Management – Being taken seriously by not taking yourself too seriously

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When you step into your new role of running a team (whatever the size) it is always a top priority to be taken seriously – for me atleast. Whether this is by your boss, your peers or by your new team. But there is a fine line between appearing to know what you are doing, and actually knowing what you are doing.

You want people to behave and perform as instructed, but this is easier said than done. Of course you want there to be some measurable results right away, you need to reassure whoever hired you that it was the right choice. But be cautious of your approach in this. You may be tempted to ‘lay down the law’ with your team by implementing high targets that come with bad consequences if missed.

This is a mistake.

If you want to be taken seriously and see some sustainable improvement with your teams performance you have to be patient.

The first few days, weeks and months of your role are all about patience. Take some time to get to know your team members individually. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their likes and dislikes? You have to tailor their targets based on their capability and learning style.

This is a slow process, but it is worth it.

Your team will see your genuine interest and understand the time you have invested in them. You are more likely to be taken seriously if you share the same end goal and work on it together.

Of course, getting results takes a lot more than patience. You need good communication, approach-ability, good team building and so much more. But for now lets focus on being taken seriously and the patience that comes with it. I will touch on all of these other points in future posts.

As author Charles W Chesnutt said, “We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things”



Life In Lower Level Management – An introduction and a reality check

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There are several things that had peaked my interests in recent years. One of them being my enthusiasm for personal success.

After progressing up from a part time office role (and first ‘real’ job) I have spent over a year running a team of 12, in my first ever management role.

Recently I decided that a needed to branch out on my skill set, as my ever itchy feet indicated that there may be a dead end to my progression from here.

I started to work alongside an apprenticeship agency. Whilst interviewing I was hit with a harsh reality check. A role in ‘lower level management’ is not as impressive to my peers as I had first thought.

This couldn’t possibly be true.. could it?

After much thought, I came to the conclusion that there is no guide book to talk you through the steps of running a team if you’ve never done it before. When a person falls into their first rung management roll, whether through luck or hard work, it is very much a whirlwind of trial and error.

Yes, very well done to you. You’ve jumped through the hoops that have been set out. You have hit your targets and gained a little respect around the office. A role became available and you’ve aced the interview. The job is yours!

Now what?

I hope this blog will be of some comfort or support to people in this position.

Keep reading my posts to see what to do when you reach the ‘now what?’ stage and how to survive life in lower level management.