When Managers Meet -What they are really saying behind closed doors.
Your perception versus theirs-- What Managers really think..
You show up to work everyday. You feel like you do a good job. You help when someone ask you to. If someone ask you a question, you usually can answer it. You keep your area pretty clean. You don't lay out of work and you don't gossip or do anything to draw attention to yourself. You feel like you are a model employee. One that is deserving of a raise and a promotion. But, everytime it comes around, you always seem to get passed over. You assume that they just don't like you, or they are giving it to one of their friends or pet employees because they suck up better to the boss. Is it true? The only way to really know would be to be a fly on the wall at one of those Manager meetings they seem to have every week. Maybe you could learn what they really think.
The truth is, that it is not uncommon for you and your manager to see two entirely different things when it comes to your work performance. It is easy to sit back and judge and point out someones faults. It's harder though to sit back and look at what you do and try and critique yourself. I am neither pro employee or pro employer. As a matter of fact, if I had to lean one way, it would be that most of the time, you are both right and you are both wrong. There are often times that it looks like the scales are tipped one way or another. But, the truth is that if you could see it from each others point of view, you would both probably see something good and something that needed improving.
For the sake of making sense, we are going to say that John works in the retail industry. We know what John thinks about himself and his job performance. Now lets take a look into a Manager meeting and see what they see about John and his work performance.
It's staff meeting day and the senior managers are meeting on employees who have evaluations coming up and there is an opening for a Department Manager and Team Leader. Each manager has brought a couple of names to the table to lobby to the HR and Store Manager on why they think they would be a good candidate for the job.
When Managers look at promoting people there are several things they look for. First, John is right. Attendance is a big deal. You need to be able to be at work in order to work. If you have an attendance problem, don't look for a promotion. Management will never consider you for the job. John is right on another account. He knows his product. Meaning that he knows what to tell the customers. But, does that make him perfect for a management position? Not really.
The person that Managers look to promote have several qualities. It is the difference between and A player and a B player. No matter what name you put on it, there is a label attached to the scale that managers grade their employees on. So, how do you get noticed and turn into that A player? Its actually not as hard as you think.
Nope, you don't have to kiss up to managers to get it. But, you do have to stand out from an average associate. If you want that promotion then you need to set your standards higher, expect more from yourself because you are capable of more. Don't expect to be patted on the head and told what a good employee you are just because you are doing your job. You need to know that you are good, because you are just that good. You should'nt have to look for someone to compliment you all the time. You look needy that way. You are an adult, working in an adult job. It's time to cowboy up and decide whether you are looking for a J.O.B., or you are looking for a CAREER? My guess is that if you really want to make money and move up in the ranks then you are looking for a Career. If you are wanting to be average, then you will always just have a JOB.
So, what do you need to do to get noticed. I PROMISE, 95% of management look for the same thing when they want to promote from within.
- Good Attendance (also, willingness to stay late, come in early or be flexible with your time to help out)
- Knowledge of what their job is. You need to take advantage of ALL the training opportunities that are available to you. The more trained you are, the more of an asset you become to the company. Also, learning to train in other areas outside of your department when you have time, makes you more valuable to more than one manager. So learn, learn learn.
- Leadership. There are those guys in the department who know their jobs and then there are those guys in the department who people go to and get answers on how to do their jobs. These people also typically will let you know if you are doing something wrong, knows an easier way to do a task and shares their knowledge. They know that by teaching other people, they will make the work load in the departments easier for everyone, improve the customer service level, and it will reduce unnecessary calls and questions directed to Senior Managers.
They have a busy job and one that has a lot of responsibility. If they have to stop and tell you how to do your job over and over, answer the same question, or remind you where to find your resources then you are creating more work on them, which in turn makes them look at you and question if you really are not capable of doing your job without constant direction. Managers do not like to have to babysit their employees. You must be a self starter, not afraid to ask questions of your peers and always, always use ALL of your resources to try and learn the answer yourself before you pull a manager over for something that could be easily answered by someone else in your area, or a more experienced associate. That is not the kind of attention you want to draw to yourself.
You need to be the employee that people go to and get questions answered. Why? Because you are in turn making management decisions already. This makes the transition into a manager role much easier and is where your leadership skills play the biggest part in their decision. Managers need to know that you already have leadership skills in you. They need to witness that BEFORE you become a manager. There is a reason that people say ("dress for the job you want to have, not the one you are in." ) It's because you need to try and be the person in the job that you really want by taking on more responsibility and learning things without being asked. Be self motivated. You need to identify problems, fix them and in passing, mention that you took care of it. Even let them know that if they need anything else, to just let you know. You are letting them know without running to them and saying "look at me, look what I did". That shows you are confident, poised and mature. You are helping, not trying to get brownie points for being a good trooper. That is what makes you above average and is called managing.
There is a saying in retail about bad managers, that really applies in about any job. ("Bad managers either get promoted up or they fire themselves".) The truth is, that sometimes they don't get put out the door fast enough. When that happens and you are stuck with Gloomy Gus the manager, then you need to regroup and make adjustments to work around him. Complaining and righting a wrong are two different things. Managers are only as good as the people who work for them. So, Managers should look for strong, self motivated, knowledgable and hardworking people to be his support team. Every Manager has to have a good support team to be successful. Just like baseball, the pitcher is only as good as his outfield. You need to learn that this is really about a team and not just about one person. Good managers know that they are good because they were smart enough to hire the best team and associates.
I always tell managers that ("they need to manage around the employees weakness and play on their strengths.") If you have a weak manager, you need to do the same thing. Your senior manager is not just going to take your complaint and fire Gloomy Gus for not doing his job just because you don't think he is bad. You need to be smoother than that. You can point out his opportunities and at the same time show your strengths. If you know he is just really bad at his job and his mistakes are costing you more work and the customers to suffer, then there are ways to point it out without rallying the troops and making calls to corporate.
For example: Lets say that Gloomy Gus Manager is really bad at making out a schedule and you always find errors on it. Give him the benefit of the doubt first and be proactive. If you are better at this than he is, offer to show him how to do the schedule to maximize the coverage and work together to fix the problem. Don't wait until it becomes a problem in your department and you are short handed. That just kills morale for you and the other employees and makes ALL of your jobs harder. That's not "getting him back" that is you showing your inmaturity at it's best and one of the reasons you will never get promoted.
So what do you do if your manager is weak? If you have a weak manager and for example lets say he doesn't know how to order product, but you do. The smartest thing to do is either complete the ordering (by getting approval from another manager) which in turn allows the manager to see that you are a problem solver and shows you are focused on the business; or you take it to the Store Manager and let him know you are capable of doing it if he needs you to. After all, you wouldn't want your Department to run low on stock. It also lets your store manager know that you are not complaining, you are being proactive and just trying to do what is right for the business. Let the Senior Manager make the call about the skills of Gloomy Gus Manager. It doesn't take a good Senior Manager long to weed out a weakness.
It's not about power, it's about RESPECT, DIGNITY, and POLICY: You have to learn this lesson. Earn the respect of the people you work with. Do correct errors, point out bad behavior and yes, when it is necessary, terminate with dignity. Following the policy will always keep you in the safe zone. You follow it. You don't use it as a weapon to weed out people. You uphold the policy of the company on everyone. Whether you think they are good or bad, does not matter when it comes to following a policy or breaking a policy. That is a hard lesson in management and I typically find the younger people 23-35 who have the hardest time understanding that once they gain the power to start using it for progressive discipline.
- It's not personal. It's business! This isn't about you, your friends or family. The Company is there to make money. That is the bottom line. Don't fool yourself into thinking it is one big family. When it comes down to whether you eat or your manager eats, trust me, yourj manager is going to eat. If you want me to tell you that they really care about you and they will take care of you the rest of your life then I would be lying to you. I know, HR is suppose to be the warm fuzzy of the company. But, in 18 years and having always been successful in maintaining a high level of employee morale, the secret is be honest!
I have always found that most employees would rather you be honest with them and tell them the train is coming than allow them to wait on the tracks and get hit by it. This allows them to see their opportunities and not a criticism. It allows them to take control and either get back on the right track or they at least know that when the train comes, you were waving your arms and yelling warning, warning.. I have never terminated someone for job performance, attendance or blatant policy violation that didn't know before they walked in the door why they were there.
Because of honesty, they always thanked me for being honest and respected me for not sugar coating it, or misleading them into thinking nothing was going to happen and then pull the carpet out from under them.
Sometimes, good people lose their jobs for making simple mistakes, but it breaks policy. That is the rule you need to understand the most. Policy is policy. Either you broke it or you didn't. If you make allowances for one employee who breaks a policy, then you breached the integrity of it and underminded why it was written in the first place. So, to be a good manager, you need to stick to the ground rules. Policies are your play book.
Here is the deal breaker for most people. If you get caught up in why someone is no longer with the company and you start telling everyone who listens how Joe was done wrong by the company, you are now looked at more like a trouble maker than that potential manager. It's vital to your career that you learn early on to seperate business from personal feelings. Never allow your emotions to take over. If you don't like the way things are being managed, then listen, learn and draw on past experiences. Because when you become the manager you are in a position to really start making change. But, don't get caught up in why someone is leaving or how they left. You need to cut it loose. The company doesn't live in the past. Only the present. You must understand that they hired you to do a job. That is what they expect from you. They don't care about drama, they don't care about your bills or what happens in your family. They hired you, not your personal problems. They do feel for you when traumatic things happen in your life, business does still have to go on and the company is not going to stop because you have personal issues. I know that sounds harsh. But, it is a lesson you need to learn in order to move up.
- Don't let your emotions make your decisions: Have you ever seen that Executive, or Manager who is always even tempered? Calm and cool no matter what the circumstance? That is the manager who will go up in the company. Why? Because he doesn't take anything personal. Everything that he does has to do with business, is about business and therefore it removes his emotions from the business. You see, you may not agree with it. But, if it is a policy and someone is in violation of it, then that was a decision they made about their career. You as a manager are there to enforce the policy along with your HR Manager. It's personal to the person that it is happening to and it is traumatic to some. But, it is business to the person who is executing their job. This is gut check time. If you can't do this, and you allow your personal opinion and emotions to weigh in your decisions, you will not be in management for long. This is the straw that breaks the camels back everytime. It is what seperates management from employees. If you get pass this, then you are well on your way to a promising career.
So, in short. You need to be on time, stay late if they need you, put business needs over your personal opinions, lead by example and lead people instead of pointing out their faults or not answering their questions. This is a mistake that people make all the time. They feel that because they learned it the hard way, had no help and felt thrown to the wolves, that tnew people should learn it that way too. Trust me. That makes you a jerk, not a good employee! If you have been through something that is unpleasant, why would you want to put someone else through it? You shouldn't. A good manager would take that as a lesson on something he would never do to his people and start making those positive changes. When people see you lead, they will follow. Just be a good leader and worthy of your followers.
All of these things combined is what managers look for. I hope the information is helpful. I know it's a lot and trust me, it doesn't just happen over night. You need to learn your job and be the best at it before you start chewing on anymore pieces of that elephant. You need to take it one bite at a time. When you become the expert, then you need to start working on being the leader. When you have mastered the leader, then you need to learn how to be the business man and once you beecome the business man, you need to remember respect, humility, dignity, honesty, and integrity will get you in the position to make the changes and be the true leader of a organization! Don't let the power go to your head and don't forget where you came from, that is where managers lose their respect from the employees the quickest. Losing respect from the people you are suppose to be leading is a career ender!
You have everything within you to be successful. It's really not anyone elses job to promote you, but you..
Good luck and best wishes on your future success!