How Did You Learn You Enjoyed Being A Manager?
Most jobs I’ve had in my life ended with me in a supervisory type of role. In each of these roles, I found that I really enjoy the diversity of work that comes with being in a leadership role. You could say that I didn’t seek out being a manager: management found me. I enjoy being a manager because I love training associates and seeing their understanding grow and progress and therefore accomplishing a greater goal.
I was a camp counselor in my first job where I taught canoeing. I quickly realized that I had to adapt my approach to help this group of teenage boys: some of whom were my own age. Watching them learn a new skill, observing all the pieces fall into place, and celebrating with them when everything clicked- that is something I truly cherished and enjoyed.
My next few jobs were in retail. They were typically customer service roles, of which I almost always ended up in a Supervisory role. I not only enjoyed working with my teams, but I especially enjoyed my customer interactions, even the angry ones! It can be easy to shy away from the upset customer, but I find that if you empathize with their situation and put yourself in their shoes, the conversation goes a lot smoother. There are still times when you come across that irate customer and nothing you do or say is right. However, the important thing to remember is that those times are the exception and not the norm. There are also multiple ways to diffuse the situation and being able to turn a tough situation into a win is always rewarding.
One of my managers said when it comes to decision making, if it’s not illegal, unethical, or immoral, he would have my back. We followed our company guidelines as well as the legal/moral rules; however, we still had the power to steer a situation in a way that accomplished the ultimate goal: taking care of the customer. I felt empowered to be creative when fixing a problem, rather than simply putting a Band-Aide on it. I learned so much from that manager, and to this day I still call him a friend and mentor. My hope is that I can impart some of the wisdom he shared with me to those that I work with.
When you’re a manager, “no two days are exactly the same”. Some days are spent training yourself and others, while other days may be spent refining processes and looking for a way to better things for everyone involved. I need to be agile enough to know that while I still may have a plan, I can’t be so invested in it that I am unwilling to adapt. Management really opened my eyes to this because I realized collaboration and openness to change was a good thing, and we are all able to benefit from it. There is no silver bullet when it comes to problem solving and rarely a simply fix, so get creative, think outside the box, and do not be afraid to get outside perspectives! It’s the challenges of being a manager that make it most rewarding.
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