Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Confessions of a manager - Productive! Magazine #22


This my editor’s note from Productive! Magazine No.22. If you are not a subscriber of my monthly mag, please, check it out and sign up for the newsletter or download the iOS or Android app and read it whenever and wherever you wish.

Confessions of a manager - Productive! Magazine #22

The top two challenges

Between 2003 and 2013 RainmakerThinking, Inc. conducted a survey among 37,419 managers. They asked, “What is the hardest thing for you about managing people?” 87% of responses fell into one of ten most common challenges. As many as 43% of responses pointed to one of the top two challenges facing managers: “Not enough time…” (24%) and “Giving negative feedback…” (19%). I would have probably responded the same.

A growing team

As Nozbe is growing really fast, I need to restructure the team and hire more people. Due to challenge No. 1 mentioned above, I was waiting for too long and not taking care of certain human-resources-related things enough. The boundaries of particular posts and functions have gone blurry and many people are doing the things they were not supposed to do or in which they don’t feel really competent. It is quite difficult to go back in time and use the original job descriptions as the company, like all progressive ones, is a living organism. The workflows, procedures and responsibilities change smoothly and unnoticed.

The dark valley of recruitment

Another challenge is hiring new people. To help me tackle this I decided to involve members of my team in this process. My previous experiences don’t let me form any particular list of what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes it is the intuition that proves to be right, but sometimes people who I am not 100% sure about turn out to be fantastic employees after all. Sometimes people who are really smart and whose quality of work hits the highest levels can’t accommodate to the company’s culture and atmosphere or lack true involvement. At the same time, guys who are fantastic friends and who positively influence the organization’s ambience don’t work hard enough or respect the contract rules. Have you got any advice or guidelines you could share on this subject? If so, please, let me know.

What is the hardest thing for you about managing people?

Are you curious about the other hardest things about managing people? Number 3. was “Different personalities of various employees and figuring out what works for each person depending on communication style, motivations and preferences.” Then managers listed “Interpersonal conflicts in the team among individual employees and cliques who don’t get along with each other.” Following problems were “Balancing between being a boss with being a friend,” “Dealing with bad attitudes or other behavioral issues such as attendance or tardiness,” “Dealing with pressure and shifting priorities from my own boss and other higher ups,” “Cumbersome lengthy process to fire low performers and/or to impose other negative consequences short of firing,” “Insufficient authority and discretion to reward high performers,” and finally “Managing people in remote locations” which I mastered pretty well I guess :)

Question: According to you, what are the hardest things about being a manager?

Friday, September 12, 2014 /pm22-manager/