After my stream on consciousness last week about acting in a management role, I thought I would update you all.
This week, three weeks into six, I’ve settled into the routine of the role. With help from my wonderful commenters, I’ve started to see my role as ‘helper’ rather than ‘productivity master’ (though that still features!).
I’ve taken to inviting my staff into my office for a one on one to work through their hardest work – which is closing out overspent projects. It’s a pain to do (I know, as I have five to do this month, hanging over from July when I was managing projects rather than maintenance). Together, less experienced staff have learnt how I justify over expenditures. Not surprisingly, my staff are also teaching me a thing or two, too! I’ve learnt that the less than stellar ‘reputation’ of some staff have isn’t 100% accurate, and when properly supported, can quickly generate good quality work!
Yesterday was the ultimate in ‘the day in the life of a manager’. I had some back to back meetings, interrupted by a phone call to let me know about a cable fault on a main arterial road, cutting supply to a restaurant. To safely complete the fault repair we’d need to isolate (ie switch off) other services to a bakery, an abandoned shop and a gambling chain (the TAB for Australians). No mean feat – on a main road! The most challenging was gaining access to the vacant property, with no way to contact the owners. In the end, the initiative of staff resulted in one of them going to local council, completing a declaration to get the owner’s details and visiting the elderly owner to collect keys to the commercial property. I hadn’t even known this was an option. See, they are teaching me!
I drove home yesterday proud of my staff – for their initiative, and responsiveness in a time sensitive issue; for working together, despite indications that a certain pair tried to keep their work separate without assisting one another. I was proud of another person for staying with me until we’d resolved more than a 200% overspend on a project *started* in 2010, and passed through five (rotational) staff to reach him! Then I found another staff member had independently completed three overspend justifications. Anyone would think this is the bread and butter of our work – it’s not! It’s the side project, but with more than 75 projects with outstanding financial overspend justifications and close outs on our books, the other manager and I have dangled
a carrot free pizza lunch as a lure to get as many completed by the end of the month. It’s incredible to see generosity being rewarded by positive outcomes. The climate in our organisation is more stick than carrot lately, so it’s a pleasure to be able to offer a positive incentive.
I’m honoured to have been asked to attempt this challenging role. I’m learning how to adapt my approach to different people and their styles. I’m learning how to trust – offering different lengths of leashes to different staff! I’m also learning to balance my bad cop against my good cop. I’m sure there’s many more stumbles, and the associated learnings, but after such a great day, I wanted to share. And who better than with my readers?