Filed under: Comment
When I started in this industry, there was a guy I worked with that was simply horrible.
I don’t mean talentless, I mean horrible.
He was rude to his team … rude to his colleagues and – on occasion – rude to his clients.
I watched him thinking, “what a dick” and while his actions undoubtedly got results, I saw that his team feared him rather than wanted to work for him … which meant that as soon as they had learnt everything from him – or had an offer from another company who viewed working for this arse as a great foundation in the industry/discipline – they were off.
I was lucky I never worked directly with him or for him, but I remember one day watching him shout at a colleague for some ridiculously small thing, and vowing I would never, ever be like him.
Now, if I’m honest, some people would claim I failed in that goal.
They would say I am a grumpy bastard who is petty and particular about all manner of things.
And – if I’m being honest – the only people who can truly answer this are the folk who have worked with me or for me … however as much as I admit that I can be a fucking prick to people who have a massive title but  can’t even achieve the basic standards expected of someone in that position &/or  have no interest in taking any responsibility for what they have to do/encourage, I would hope I am not someone who is basically always looking for a fight.
Anyway, that’s by-the-by, because that’s not what I want to talk about.
Being a head of a department is hard.
Yes, I know you get more money and benefits, but that doesn’t mean the job is easy.
Very rarely do you get trained for it and then, when it happens, you suddenly find yourself thrust into a position where you are always copping someones shit.
Your team mates stop being your team mates and start expressing/demanding their personal needs and wants.
Your managers stop being your managers and start placing more expectations and responsibility on you.
Your clients stop being your clients and start holding you responsible for more than you are responsible for.
In short, you can become a cat litter-tray for everyone’s needs, wants, demands, tears, fears and tantrums.
Hey, I’m not criticising anyone, I was/am definitely guilty of it and I expected my bosses to ‘sort it out’ because at the end of the day, no one will look out for you as much as you.
Now dealing with that is part of being a boss … however how you deal with it dictates how you will develop your team and that’s why I subscribe to this point of view:
While I understand why the guy I used to work with felt ‘being a dictator’ stopped all the internal issues and arguments that can consume your day, the fact is, it also opened a can of worms he never knew existed.
The fact is, you don’t have to be mean to people.
You don’t have to be objectionable for the sake of being objectionable.
You shouldn’t tear someone down just because you have the power to do so.
Encouragement and support are not evil words.
Letting people discover their own ways, styles and mistakes is not dangerous or stupid.
In fact, it’s those things that help people develop and grow.
It makes them better at what they do.
It makes your job easier to do and best of all, it makes you look good.
But that doesn’t mean you have to act like Paula Abdul.
Being encouraging doesn’t mean relinquishing standards or boundaries.
Not just because if you do, people will try to cross them time and time again … but because part of being a boss is about setting a direction, vision and goal that everyone wants to be committed going after.
Being the head of a department means walking along a really thin tightrope.
Dangerous, scary but ultimately amazing and fulfilling – especially when your team grows and develops and then moves on to do things that they never imagined they could be doing. That’s just sheer bloody awesome.
And that’s why one of the best bits of advice I ever got was that you should always be enthusiastic, positive and eager to help, listen and get involved … but never be to the point where someone can take advantage of your generosity or miss out on their own development and experience, because in an industry where reputation is everything, the best way to build it – apart from doing great work – is to do no harm, but take no shit.
28 Comments so far
Leave a comment