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"so, why management?"
bc I love spreadsheets and jira and driving alignment !!
At the bottom of it all, the only place in which I know for certain there’s meaning to be found and made is in our relationships with one another. I want to spend my days working on us.
I want to be there with you. I want to have been there with you. Day in; day out. Week after week. Year by year. And I want those days to have been better that we were together.
Work is a lot of our lives. “Work can’t love you back” — but people can! I think we can choose to create communities and environments for each other in which we can be and do our best — where we can appreciate each other for who we are, feel safe to be creative, be brave enough to be sincere, and maybe do something together that we otherwise wouldn’t have done alone.
The most important parts about people management aren’t specifically about people management
When I think about what “my management philosophy” might be and what I value, I find it difficult to write anything that doesn’t sound like a proverb or Dr. Seuss rhymes about how one “ought to” live life and treat people. But it feels like that’s what it’s largely about.
Building teams is about being in relationships with people; a manager only exists in relation to a team! A team arises/emerges from a group of individuals. To build a team, you need to know the people — not just the people you manage but also the ones to your left, right, up, down, B, A, start.
It’s about learning how to know someone — what they care about and why, how they work, how they think, how they communicate, who they are on their own and who they are in a group. How to trust. How to care. How to listen and really hear. How to be honest. How to have difficult conversations. How to be kind and generous — and how especially important it is to be kind and generous when placed in a position of authority. How to be with. How to be without.
The most interesting parts about people management are about the specific people and places
The interesting part is in how to do any of that. There are similarly shaped problems and companies and people but the ‘right’ approach in any given situation is so highly dependent on the specifics. It’s those specific circumstances at a particular point in time that make it all endlessly interesting. It’s the classic answer of “it depends” to the question of ‘how’, and it takes knowing the people to know what it depends on.
I knew I wanted to become an EM since I was an intern. At the time, I had a manager who’d been a first line manager for decades (and continued to be until retirement). On his team, I felt appreciated, encouraged, and safe. I had friends on other teams with very different experiences. I wanted to do what he did so that my friends could feel the way I felt.
I finished up my final year at school while working through the books on every manager’s reading list.
It was a few more years before someone took a wild chance on me and let me start a brand new team as a fresh new manager. It’s been difficult and wonderful and exactly what I want to be doing. For me, the role hits a balance of interesting and meaningful in a way that feels very special. Every team has always been a special time. It’s special to just be with people over the years and somehow day by day while eating the same things for lunch and hearing about weekend plans after weekend plans, the years pass imperceptibly and all at once. And then you see how far we’ve come.
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