Learning to be a Human Manager

10 Tips for being a more human manager

The art of being a Human Manager

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live. – Mortimer Adler

The world is changing at an incredible pace – what are you learning to change about yourself to keep up with it?

Go on – take a minute to look into the mirror and ask yourself the question: What am I learning to adapt about myself to keep up with the change in a fast-paced world?

So how did you go at answering the question?

Let me see – was it a flaky answer that involved you defaulting to the usual technical fixes that are becoming more and more irrelevant particularly for someone who is about to be, is now, or has been for some time responsible for other human beings in the workplace?

Maybe you’re in self-deception mode and playing the role of the victim.

If only I had more experience, got my factions sorted out, knew more about “stuff” and didn’t have to worry about others then I would be able to do my job properly and ride the wave of change.

If only I didn’t have to deal with people!!

Life was much easier back then.

Or – was there a moment of vulnerability?

A reflection into the “known unspoken” that involved more of the other side of you that you keep hidden from the world that you operate in?

The real conversation you have with yourself only in times of a little “weakness”; some distance from others lest they hear what you might be saying.

Yes, I’m talking about the human side of you – your feelings, emotions and beliefs on what it is to be human and what you could be; what you fight hard against every working day to suppress because it might mean you don’t “fit in” anymore.

How you would like to be treated and treat others in a way that is the right way – the human way.

Are you just focused on survival?

The demands of the organisational cycle of knee-jerk reactions such as restructures, immediate changes in strategy, revenue “ramp-ups”, headcount freezes, sudden cost reduction initiatives – (usually resulting in getting rid of the newspapers, coffee or fruit supply).

Not to mention the “no Staff Christmas party because things are tight” rule, acquisitions and mergers, back to back meetings, busyness – “busy being busy”, meeting and exceeding targets, weekly reviews of historical data, knowing your competitors next move before it happens, managing up to keep your boss happy and looking like you know what you’re doing day-to-day.

Oh, and did we mention keeping an eye on the political landscape to make sure you are with the “in-crowd”, keeping your people motivated to succeed (carrot and stick), keeping your customers happy all act like a giant boa constrictor; slowly coiling itself around you until your body, mind and spirit are crushed.

Learning how to be a human manager can be tough when you are under pressure
Learning how to be a human manager can be tough when you are under lots of pressure

My gut feel tells me you are focusing on survival, keeping your nose to the grindstone, your head above water, your “head down and bum up”, slogging through long hours, missing out on major milestones, blaming others for your woes, constantly saying you’re busy or flat out and don’t have time to do all of the work let alone manage and develop your people; or even get home at a reasonable hour to spend quality time with your partner, children or pets.

I’m sure you have all at times like me been seduced by phrases like “empowering our people”, “rebuilding our culture from the ground up” and “putting our people first.”

You probably for a moment lived on a glimmer of hope that your organisation was about to embark on a wonderful journey down a pathway that focused on actually driving it’s success from people-led initiatives; rather than the usual old process and technical fixes that have resulted in quick fixes and the cycle of “boom and bust”.

Believe me, I’m one who has on many occasions got my hopes up that the scales were tipping to a more human approach to operating a large organisation – only to witness the initial bubble of enthusiasm be quickly burst when the system recalibrated itself to its normal way of being.

My point here is that you have a choice.

We all have a choice.

A human choice.

That choice is to discover a more human way to operate.

A more human side of yourself that you have locked up and thrown away the key to.

A better way to unlock the potential of both yourself and those within your care to make your organisation a great place to work and those under your care fans of you and the organisation.

If you are to make one resolution to improve your leadership skills, make it to become a true “Human Manager”.

10 Tips to become a true Human Manager

Try adding any of the following to your current way of looking after those under your care:

  1. Be truly present when interacting with work colleagues; particularly your direct reports.
  2. Take a genuine interest in what they do outside of work.
  3. Get to know the names of partners, children, pets etc.
  4. Find 30-60 minutes a week to engage in social chit-chat with your entire team (keep it non-task related).
  5. Ask a team member for help or some advice on a challenge you are facing.
  6. Offer a team member some advice on a challenge they are facing.
  7. Recognise great individual and team results and milestones specifically and in a timely manner.
  8. Take a team member out for a coffee without scheduling it two weeks in advance in the diary.
  9. Keep your commitments to regular coaching times with your employees.
  10. Ask them what they enjoyed at work and achieved outside of work – flip it around.

Being a human manager is something that we should all embrace.

It’s not about holding hands and singing kumbayah and being “soft and fluffy” but rather genuine, caring, firm but fair and open to the possibility that great results will occur when we do the simple things well.

Recommended further reading: Three techniques for how successful leaders deal with problems

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About Mark LeBusque 1 Article
Author of BEING HUMAN and with experience across a wide range of areas from the floor to the boardroom in operations, customer service, sales, human resources, general management and education Mark has a unique ability to get underneath the noise and find the truth in order to allow individuals and organisations to make progress.

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