Bringing out the best in people is a key to success as a leader, but so many modern managers haven't experienced that style of management.
Memories of My First Day
I remember my first day at work, which is quite an achievement given the amount of time that has passed since that auspicious day.
It was a Monday morning in the middle of summer, I had only been offered the job on the Friday afternoon and here I was just a weekend later starting my career in HR! Well it was called personnel in those days.
I mention this because I recently did a presentation to a group of 16-year olds who will be leaving school this year about what they can expect work to be like and how to prepare for it.
Abiding First Day Memories.
My abiding memory is of being paraded around innumerable offices so that I could be introduced to lots of different people. As we got to the end of the tour, we came to an office that was a bit larger than the others which was the working home of six people.
When the introductions were complete my new manager turned to me and said, “Don’t worry if you can’t remember everyone’s name the important thing is that if you remember that you are the lowest of the low you won’t go wrong.”
Back in the day I let the comment go as, but when I recounted it to a group of 16-year olds, who will be leaving school this summer, as part of a presentation about what they can expect work to be like and how they can prepare for it, there was an audible gasp of shock.
Just Not What You Say
This generation of school leavers are probably no different to any previous generation, we all think we are better than we are, that we should be able to do the most exciting work, at the top rate of pay and still be home in time to watch Blue Peter. Every generation is the same at 16.
But what I think is different nowadays is that today’s sixteen-year-old is much more aware of the impact their behaviour and what they say has on other people.
Old Management Styles
The common management style when I started work was like the system of education, people in authority generally believed, and in some cases knew for a fact that they could treat those who were junior to them in anyway they liked, without any fear of comeback.
Times and Approaches to Management Have Changed.
For managers who have experienced the support approach to helping people learn in school nowadays leading the younger generation will not be too much of a challenge. Managers who have a bit more experience may find that that experience is more of a draw-back than an advantage when it comes to managing, and not just managing younger workers. There is some evidence that attitudes to work and work life balance amongst older workers is becoming more like their younger colleagues.
New Motivational Tactics
Tim Irwin in his book Extraordinary Influence – How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others says that managers must make sure that they understand how their motivational tactics might demotivate instead of bolstering them.
This is because too many of today’s managers learnt to manager by being managed by people like my first manager.
Successful modern-day managers will make sure that they understand how to bring out the best in others, by acknowledging their skills, and knowledge and encouraging them instead of criticising them.
It’s all about identifying which way is positive and making sure that everyone including yourself is moving in that direction, says Tim in what is an eminently readable and wise manual.
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Today’s School Leaver
How would one of today’s school leavers deal with the way my first boss spoke to me?
Probably by telling him that they had done a module at school on memory and then recite the list of people they had met.