Wednesday, January 16, 2008

People management

People Management ~ not the simplest subject to talk about, nor an easy skill to master, in any sense of the word. That's why there are lots of books out there, supposedly teaching people HOW to be a good people manager.

Also, for the record, there are lots of lousy people managers around here...

First, let's get the point clear:

Many people's namecards carry the word "manager" these days. It's almost a given that as long as a person handle a set of accounts, or are responsible for a collection of items, he can be termed a "manager". Heck, a cleaning assistant in the coffeehouse can call himself a "Facilities Manager" if he wants to.

But a PEOPLE manager has to be a person leading a group of workers (read: homo sapiens), who work under/for him/her. Theses workers report directly to the manager, in terms of their day-to-day job, and the manager is responsible for the culmulative performance output of the team.

Anyway, where the sudden interest in talking about these "managers"? Well, you can say that it has been a popular topic of discussion amongst my colleagues these days, thanks to our department 头子. Sometimes, it seems like he doesnt really know what to do with us - whether to be absolutely strict and rule by an iron fist, but in return endure the enmity and constant talk-behind-his-back; OR to treat us like buddies and hope to gain our friendship, respect and trust, but risk the team running over his head.
Recently, he has taken to wearing a 黑脸 to work everyday, so much so that everyone avoids him like the plague. At the same time (and funnily) he appears slightly offended that nobody offers to chat with him in the office; offers to lunch with him, or even to sit beside him on the few occasions when the department has a group lunch/dinner outing.

To many of us, it's straightforward: you are either our friend, or you are our boss.

So the question really is: Can someone be BOTH a boss and a friend at the same time?

Honestly, I think it is very tough to be both. However, IMHO a good manager has to try to strike a good balance between the 2 extremes, in order to get the best results from his/her team. When it comes to work, he must be tough and demanding. Afterall, he is an employee of the firm, just like the rest of us, and he has his bosses to report to. So when the team performs below par, he has to take steps to ensure everybody bucks up and work towards the team target(s). That may require him to be the 坏人, constantly harping on KPIs and work targets.
But since bad news dont come around everyday (if they do, nobody will be staying around for much longer!) , what's to stop the manager from being a friendly colleague on other working days? Once in a while, everyone needs to hear encouraging words about their performance. Everyone needs some reassurance they are doing ok, and the team is functioning well.

Presently, I think -that- little encouragement (for the team) is a little short in supply these days... and with the departure of a couple of our kakis in training, the morale of the team has taken another blow.

老板,请你领导大家振作起来吧! 别再"黑脸"见人啦.


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