Managers Decoded-Part 1

You guys know that for last 2 weeks there were no posts from me and some of you might be wondering why it is so. Well, for me to write about something and bring it to you, the topic should excite me first. If only I’m excited,  I can pass the same to you with the same enthusiasm. But then I realized, it is tough to find such topics every time and what is more important is to get the conversations going on. So this week I thought let’s discuss our managers. Now that is going to be very interesting for all of you, right? Who does not love to talk about managers? Is there anyone here who loves his/her manager??Please do raise your hands (in the comments section of course :)).

We all have heard many times that people don’t leave companies, but their managers and this is so true. After our family, our manager and the team mates are the ones with whom we spend the maximum time in our life. Are you telling me that I forgot friends??Come on, after joining for work how often do you meet your friends and spend time with them!!So undoubtedly, the managers do have a very big influence in our lives. So I thought that I should discuss different types of managers I have worked with or have come across in my career and the influence they had on their team. I would cover one manager in each post and want you also to add to this discussion by commenting about at least one manager who was a big influence on you, either in a positive or negative way.

I would start this with my favorite one as I owe my entry to HR to her. When we talked for the first time I did not have any background in HR as I already told you that I was a software developer. We had almost an hour of discussion over the phone and she hired me to her team. That is the first point I want to emphasize that she had the trust in me, which gave me the motivation to perform my best. Working with her was not definitely a cakewalk. On the first day itself responsibilities were handed over to me and it was a little tough to cope up with her speed in the beginning. She was a perfectionist and was very strict with timelines which sometimes we felt unreasonable. She kept us on our toes all the time and all of us in the team had well defined goals to achieve. But let me tell you, each day at work was so satisfying and I had the feeling that I did something of value. The learning & exposure to senior management and business I had in that time was tremendous. She taught us to “connect” with people first and understand their needs. As a HR that is one lesson I carry every day in my life. She was there to back us up whenever someone else pointed fingers at us, though she used to be very straightforward with her feedback to us. Also, she was smart enough to identify our strengths and give us tasks accordingly. The adrenaline rush of working with her is something which I really miss now. True that I left her, not because I was not engaged (Oh..I was a fully engaged employee that time) or satisfied, but to pursue my formal education in HR and she was my source of inspiration. One day I would try to bring her and her valuable insights to my readers.

Now from an employee engagement perspective, let’s analyze what she did right.

  • Trust: She showed confidence in her team and entrusted them with big responsibilities without hesitating and never micromanaged. This led to employee empowerment. I already mentioned about giving me responsibilities on the very first day. As per a study conducted by Gilad Chen at Texas A&M University on Newcomer Adaptation in Teams, new comers in a team performed the best when they felt empowered and their team expected them to perform well.
  • Intrinsic Motivation: It was not money or rewards that motivated us. The satisfaction derived from work and the opportunities for self-development were enough to stimulate us constantly.
  • Employee Development: With our hands full everyday with multiple tasks, she not only pushed the team beyond their limits, but also to harness new skills on the go.
  • Recognition: She never shied away from acknowledging our good work and proudly introduced us to senior management.
  • Strength-Based approach: She identified the competencies of everyone in the team and assigned them to roles that matched their abilities.
  • Collective Identity: Everybody in the team had a sense of belongingness to a highly performing and result oriented team and hence could work with a shared vision. In their book ,’Organizational Psychology: A Scientist-Practitioner Approach’ by Steve Jex and Thomas Britt, they talk about an approach where managers should promote collective identities, yet at the same time support unique identities. It means that while highlighting the shared mission of the team, managers should recognize the unique contributions of diverse group members. And that is what exactly happened in my team, our individual contributions were acknowledged while we strived to achieve the team goals.

So I would consider this as a very good approach towards managing a team, especially one that of high performing and goal oriented individuals. The key is to let the kite go and fly as much as it wants while ensuring that you don’t lose the thread altogether.

See you soon with another story. Don’t forget to share your experience with your managers at the comments section.


The Ardent HR

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