No matter what business you're in, it's usually a given that people aspire to being in management. It's a strange oddity for me, that 'being in management' should define the pinnacle of success, when actually it's something that we've being doing since the day we were born. As a father, with two little boys, I've come to the conclusion that it's in these early days that we're in the peak of our management. Young kids are constantly getting their parents to happily rally around them, or motivating them to go well beyond what they thought themselves capable of to get to a common goal. As a Dad, this process has taught me all sorts of new things about myself, growing as a person in ways that I could never have imagined.
The strange thing for me, is that these valuable life lessons are often forgotten as we enter the workplace. As in life, the key to management in the workplace is communication. It's a valuable tool that we need to use in setting and managing expectations. When we were younger, we managed our parents, our teachers and our fellow learners. And then later on, probably a significant other. As we all know, it's never a good idea to set a dinner date for 6pm and then leave your date waiting until 8pm, especially without calling to explain that you've had car trouble. Similarly in the workplace, it's important to communicate expectations clearly and then act accordingly.
This is an important survival technique at work, where you're constantly managing your peers, perhaps some people that report to you and – wait for it - your manager. Yes, you read that last bit right. You manage your manager. In fact, 'managing up' is vitally important. Being successful in life depends on how well we do this.
In my mind, there's no such thing as a career ladder… it's really more of a jungle gym. If you work on a career ladder, your focus would be on climbing each step. In order for you to rise, the person ahead of you would:
a) Have to step up first
b) Be climbed over or
c) Fall off!
In our company, we have a career jungle gym. I believe this approach gives every person the opportunity to move according to their own individual strengths and abilities. And most importantly, we're all managing in every direction, working efficiently in our own capacities and as a team. What's more, jungle gyms are more fun than ladders… ask any kid!
When we understand that management is not about 'calling the shots', but rather about communicating, motivating and managing expectations, that's when great things happen. I am continually amazed when I meet incredible people that have achieved incredible things in their organisations, simply by adopting this way of thinking. And every day, I'm proud to have founded a company that embraces this philosophy.