THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Be generous: Kind managers can change the world

There are lots of rules for first-time managers: never hold a meeting without an agenda, because if you don't know what you're going to do, no one else will know either. The rule about agendas is a great example because it's about being kind.  

A manager's job is to make sure employees are growing, learning, and enjoying their time at work. Bringing them to a meeting without an agenda is wasting their time, and that's disrespectful. 

The first– and probably the only– rule of management is "be respectful."

Manager: My employees are totally unmotivated. What can I do? 

A: Do you give them work that respects their intelligence, or is the work crappy?

Manager: There's nothing I can do. Someone has to do low-level work. 

A: People are motivated to do boring work (as a favor) if they feel respected in other ways. So pay attention to building their skills. In return, they'll want to help you. 

I receive lots of email from new managers who are still figuring out what the role means:

Manager: I got promoted to being a manager last year. I've struggled to teach others, because coming from a world that was all about me, having to pay attention to others feels like I'm giving something of myself away.

This new manager admits what most people won't: management requires giving a lot of yourself. Most new managers just sort of disappear. They pop out of their office from time to time to tell people what they're doing wrong, or to let people know about new goals or new procedures. That's not managing. That's being a human memo. 

Real managing is about growth and caring, taking time to see what skills people need to develop, then helping them get those skills. This means sitting with someone to find out what matters. And then sitting with yourself to figure out how to help the person. Most people don't see management as listening and thinking, but that's what caring about someone looks like. 

A good manager checks in– not to micromanage, but because you can't help people if you don't know how they're doing. Taking time to chat when things are going fine telegraphs that the person is as important as the work he's doing.

Once you get to the point where you're connecting with people you manage, helping them get what they want from their job, you're in a position to change the world. 

I had a moment in my own career as a manager when I realized I could change the world, in a small way, just by being more open-minded and generous to the people around me. I was a very young manager, and found myself interviewing people much older than I was. Seeing those people from the point of view of my mom, who was working for someone my age, made me change how I approached my job as a manager.

All this reminds me of a pseudo-Maslow Hierarchy of Job Needs

1. Physiological - Keep yourself fed and clothed.

2. Safety - Work on believing you can keep yourself employed if something happens

3. Love and belonging - Figure out how to get a job that respects your personal life

4. Esteem - Perform well at your job.

5. Self-actualization - Help people reach their potential through creative and moral problem solving.

Management is an opportunity to self-actualize. Being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that's fulfilling– if you allow it. You need to set aside real time to make it happen. And you need to give generously. 

No big surprise there, because why else are we here except to give to each other?