Balancing act: Good managers focus on doing the right thing
As I look back on the things that made her so exceptional — and that continue to make her a trusted friend and mentor to this day — I realize that she really tried to have a positive impact on our lives.
We were young reporters then, fresh out of college, and she knew we needed help if we were to reach our potential. So, instead of throwing us to the wolves, she spent time with us.
Both my wife and I can remember her calling us over to her cubicle while she was editing our stories and giving us one-on-one instruction on what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong. She was assertive but kind, and we always learned from those sessions.
I realize now that the reason we enjoyed her constructive criticism is that we knew she genuinely cared about our growth as journalists and as people. She wasn't working with us just to keep us from making mistakes, thus making her job easier — although I hope that was a side benefit of her efforts. Rather, she wanted us to improve so we could have brighter futures in our chosen profession, whether we were working for her or someone else.
She was doing the right thing, and she definitely had a positive impact on our lives.
I'll always be grateful for the example she set, in that way and in so many others. I can see now that my management style and philosophy are borrowed, in large part, from things she taught me, including:
• Take time to help your team members individually and as a group.
• Be open and honest with them about larger issues in the company.
• Clearly state your expectations and make sure your team members know where they stand in relation to those expectations.
• Try to make sure your team isn't blindsided by unpleasant surprises.
• Remember that you all spend a lot of time at work, so it makes sense to have fun while you're there.
I still have much to learn, but I'm glad my job gives me the opportunity to work on these management skills and that I can draw upon the good examples of managers who have helped me along the way.
Have you worked for managers who proved by their actions that they wanted to have a positive impact on your life? In what ways did they show a commitment to doing the right thing? How did that help you when you moved into a management role of your own?
Please send me your stories and ideas, and I'll share some of them in a future column.