After writing my recent post on how the Joy of Managing is in the Struggle, I heard from Doreen Kula, a Venture Development coach and consultant for one of the LP’s in the GAN Ventures fund. When it comes to management, she’s done everything from managing just herself (always a tough job—ha!) to managing large groups of people—including managing three plant managers and overseeing the 150-180 people collectively working under them. Plus, like me, she even has a degree in interpersonal communication, specifically focused on organizational communication. With all of that experience under her belt, she had some great insights on management to share and I wanted to pass them along.
Here’s what she had to say:
Blanket Policies v. Individual Needs
What I have learned, and what has been most successful for me, is that you need “blanket” policies set out for everyone to provide overall guidelines and structure, but you really need to work individually with people beyond that. In general, people hate when a new rule comes out for the collective group because one person was abusing a policy. Most would rather see management work with that one individual rather than “punishing” everyone on the team.
Friends v. Colleagues
You really need to understand how each person is motivated and work to that. For some people, it’s money. For others, it’s recognition of a good job or some other type of affirmation. The challenge here is finding the line between being close and friendly with the people you’re managing while still maintaining your position as manager. If you don’t, you risk getting too close and too friendly, and people don’t/can’t/are afraid to give real constructive criticism because of your friendship. It can also make it much more difficult when you need to perform your managerial duties and they may not listen to or respect your authority because you’re friends.
In my position overseeing 150+ people, I realized that it couldn’t matter to me whether they considered me “their friend,” because that impacted how I was doing my job and how they were doing their jobs. Of course, this can work very differently in a small, cohesive team. But you still have to be aware of how this closeness will affect your relationships, and whether a close, personal dynamic can scale as the team grows in the future.