– Terra Graves –
I feel guilty asking my team to do things. Is that crazy? I know a huge part of this is because I am now supervising people whom I have been coworkers with for many years. I know the workload because it used to be mine. I also know that my work habits were not typical of most of the group. I loved the work, and I didn’t stop working in the evenings or on the weekends. Now that I am the boss, I have to be more aware of the expectations I place on my team. My biggest struggle right now is that I feel like I should help them carry the workload.
Additionally, I am a doer. I thrive on tasks that allow me to be creative. However, there are new “boss” things I have to do that put demands on my time and mental energy. It’s not that my people can’t handle it; they can with flying colors. I look at my supervisor, who held this position before me. He didn’t do a lot of the things I am doing with regards to being closely intertwined with the nitty-gritty of the work that we were doing. Should I step back more? Or, do I just have a different leadership style? Is there a certain level of distance I need to establish now that I am the boss? This is the myth that I believe is holding me back as an administrator.
During my journey through this first year as an administrator, I’ve been reading a lot about leadership. I will share some thoughts on a few resources that I found helpful below.
In 13 Things Bad Bosses Do That Great Managers Never Would, I found a couple of things that have definitely been a challenge for me, and I know that I will continue to work on them.
Emma Brudner writes about 10 Hard Truths About Management No One Tells You on thinkgrowth.org. Some things that really resonated with me:
On my search to validate if feeling guilty as a manager was a “normal” feeling, I found a few articles that said that “guilty people make good managers” (Harvard Business Review) and “feeling guilty may make you a better boss” (BBC World Service) and that “guilt makes workers more trustworthy” (Daily Mail UK). I believe all of these articles refer to the same studies done by the University of Chicago and Stanford University’s School of Business. Basically, employees with more “guilt-proneness” tend to feel a greater sense of responsibility for the completion of tasks, ethical actions, and stronger work ethic. They are high-performers and tend to feel positively toward their organization. For me, the guilt I feel is a little different. It’s more about trying to take care of my team so that they do not feel too overloaded. I don’t want them to feel like now that I am the boss I will push all my work onto them. It’s called “delegating,” Terra. That’s one challenge here. What should be delegated? The other challenge here is that each person on my team has strengths and talents in certain areas. Sometimes, I need the same person to take on more because it suits their strengths. Is that fair and equitable?
Lighthouse’s blog on Leadership and Management Advice shares some ideas for What to Do When You Start Managing Former Peers.
Finally, Dan Finnigan’s Show ‘Em Who’s Boss: 4 Tips for Successfully Managing Your Peers After a Promotion gave me two things to work on.
Going forward, I believe I can let go of the myth that is holding me back. I spoke with my supervisor today, actually, to get some clarity. Basically, he said, “It’s a HUGE gray area.” Meaning, being in middle management, I have to manage, but I also have to do. I need to step in and share the workload if it is necessary. This concept made me feel better. I think I am going about this the right way. I (mostly) trust my instincts, but getting validation from him helps.
This article is the seventh in a series. If you haven’t read the others, feel free to check them out below!