Transitioning from one role to another is not always easy. You may not know what to do right away and that’s okay, some things take time to figure out. When making a transition, being adaptable is a big help. Going from being a geek, to being a geek in charge of other geeks, can be overwhelming. A lot of geeks don’t know what to do at first when they’re put into a manager role. Disclaimer, a lot of people don’t know what to do, luckily there are resources to help guide us. In the video below, we’ll see what a manager should NOT do.
Saturday Night Live is a show consisting of comedic skits put on by celebrities. In this skit, Will Ferrell plays a manager. He treats all of his employees terribly. He does not lead, encourage, or listen to his employees at all. As a manager, it is important to lead your employees and help create a good work environment. This clearly does not happen in this skit. Honestly, if I were the person being interviewed, I would get the heck out of there, too.
Making the transition from geek to manager is challenging, but not impossible. It takes a lot of work and a lot of getting to know your employees. Everyone is motivated by different things and figuring out how to motivate your workers is not always the easiest thing to do. I have never been a manager so I haven’t battled with finding motivation for my employees, but I have worked with unmotivated people. To be honest, I have been one of those dreaded unmotivated people. The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked at a summer camp in central Illinois. (Probably my favorite place in the whole entire world. Shout out to LSCA!) One of the daily tasks we had was cleaning the bathrooms and let me tell you, it was not a fun job. I would be lying if I said I didn’t dread it almost every morning. My boss, the camp manager, was quick to remind us all that we are here to serve a greater purpose. Our main goal was to create a place for the campers to feel safe and have fun. My boss has been camp manager for the last nine or ten years, so she has gotten pretty good at motivating the summer staff, but getting to that place takes a lot of work.
Our book, The Geek Leader’s Handbook, lists some questions to ask yourself that will hopefully provide clarity about using time well as a manager. There were a couple of questions that stood out to me. The first one was, “Am I advocating effectively for my team’s needs?” The second one was, “Am I helping to clarify goals, roles, and processes?” The last one was, “Have I helped create an environment where the team is eager and excited to do their work?” I think these three questions stuck out to me most because my camp manager was really good at all of these and that’s something I want in the future. She always, always, always advocated for us and always had our best interest in mind. My manager also gave clear directions and was quick to restate anything that didn’t make sense to us. Her strongest skill, in my opinion, is her ability to make the workplace fun. We would have weekly staff game nights which brought us all closer, but also made us enjoy work more once we got to know each other better.
Being a manager can be challenging, but with support from your employees and clear goals set, it can be done.