Sorry, this seat is taken

There have been times when you’ve been asked to “watch” something. Will you “watch” the phones for me while I use the restroom? Will you “watch” my children?  Please “watch” my seat while I go to the concession stand?  These are very general statements in which we are meaning something far deeper than what we are literally asking for.  What we should be asking in these instances are “Will you ensure that our clients’ needs are met while I’m away?”, “Will you take care of my children and attend to their needs for me (not just making sure they don’t kill each other) while I run this errand?”, and “Will you make sure that no one takes my seat while I’m in line getting my nachos with extra cheese and jalapeños?”  You want someone to manage the situation and the people in it, not just supervise or literally “watch” while not affecting an outcome, hoping that it turns out favorably.

Let’s differentiate between the two words/titles, Supervisor and Manager. defines them as follows:

Supervisor (noun) – a person who supervises workers or the work done by others; superintendent.

Manager (noun) – a person who has control or direction of an institution, business, etc.; a person who controls and manipulates resources and expenditures.

Control and Manipulate in this sense mean to change an outcome. These are not bad words and we will use them several times in this post.

Supervising and Managing are very different functions in life and in the work place. Supervising ensures that a button gets pushed…everyday… a certain amount of times a day…day after day.  Managing requires an understanding of why the button needs pushing…how variations in pushing affect the business and its employees…how to get the best pushing from individuals and the team… and constantly thinking of and creating new ways to make everyone better at pushing that button.  So, management has a supervisory component built into it, while being a supervisor doesn’t necessary include managing.

Management is more than just a title, it’s a lifestyle. Management is not just a sprint, it is a marathon.  Being a Manager means that you understand people, how they operate, what motivates them individually and collectively (a whole different blog all together) and understanding how to move the needle and positively impact your business and your employee’s lives. Yes, their lives.  Proper management should result in not only better employees, but better people.

It takes a lot of time to develop the necessary skills and competencies to lead and motivate adults. While encouraging growth and development amongst employees, managers must be willing to also work on their craft by keeping up with their industry, seeking out and participating in external and internal trainings/team building workshops, and learning how to properly plan and organize.

Because people and their motivators are ever-changing, the methods used to “control and manipulate” must evolve with the times and the target audience. How we managed 15 years ago may not work with our current generation of workers. Employee’s tolerance for unprofessionalism and disparate treatment is far lower than it was years ago, and employees want their needs to be heard and met if they are going to remain with the company and produce while they are there.  Management must also be honest with themselves and be able to say to themselves, “Self! This isn’t working. I need to make changes with how I’m approaching my employees if I want a different result.”

If you are in an industry with clear, numerical goals and objectives, it is imperative as a manager that you are focusing on the behaviors of your employees and not managing to “the number”. If they are being taught properly how to get a certain result, the number will come.  While the number or end result is important to reaching the ultimate business goal, the way you and your team get to this result will affect the sustainability of success and the morale of the employees in the group.  The days are long gone when you can simply say to employees, “Hey, do this.” and it’s done to your liking.  While the title “Manager” should be respected, we must know how to manipulate the situation when simply telling someone to do something no longer yields the desired results.

As managers, we must be invested in the success of those that we are asking to be successful.  Sacrifices must be made to ensure that our employees are being developed in a way that is conducive to their learning style and are getting the amount of attention they actually need, which is not necessarily the amount that we think they should have.  We must listen to our “bodies” (see July 16th post).  We must realize and respect that our employees are individuals with different skill sets and strengths, and it will only be by uncovering, encouraging, leveraging and “manipulating” those strengths that we will consistently win in our respective industries. We must manage and affect outcomes, not just supervise and hope that no one takes our seat.

One thought on “Sorry, this seat is taken

  1. Great blog, as always! The workforce definitely needs more managers who understand the importance of encouraging “controling” and “manipulating” their employees. We are so far from the old school “do it because I said so” mentality.


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