Thoughts on managing people

The topic of managing people is on my mind a lot recently. Alright, not only recently but for the past six months to be more precise. As I am managing two other people, I am always trying to learn as much as I can, improve and just do my best to empower and support my team.


But the truth is, this is a hard thing. I am guilty as charged of having micromanaging tendencies – which I know comes from my lack of trust in one of my team member, and God knows I try as much as possible to get over that and give clean feedback on the spot as well as clear directions while also letting the person do the work their way and prove themselves.


And things still don’t always work out especially when you have high expectations. I always set high standards for myself and I commit to the work I do and I expect others to do the same. And when this does not come naturally for other people, when I don’t see them as rockstars, that is when frustration comes in. So what do we do in those cases? How can we make sure we still support the people around us and help them grow?


My strategy so far has been by giving feedback on the spot on tasks, trying to understand this person from a more personal perspective, and while things have improved, I still do not feel like we are quite there. I don’t want to fuel a hostile working environment; this is definitely not benefitting anyone. So I know for sure I just need to keep reading, learning and understanding better my role and where I can help best.


Something very interesting I read in the past weeks is how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can also apply to management and leadership. As Penelope Trunk puts it in her blog, we can apply the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the job, where the first level is just making sure you get a job, and then you keep going up until the last level when you figure out, eventually, how to use your job to make the world a better place.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1. Physiological — food, water, sleep

2. Safety — security of body, health, resources

3. Love and belonging — family, friends, sexual intimacy

4. Esteem — self-confidence, respect of others, respect by others

5. Self-actualization — morality, creativity, problem solving


Pseudo-Maslow Hierarchy of Job Needs

1. Physiological – Take care of keeping yourself fed and clothed.

2. Safety – Work on feeling secure that you can keep yourself employed, if something happens.

3. Love and belonging – Figure out how to get a job that respects your personal life.

4. Esteem — Perform well at your job because you have the resources and the security to do so

5. Self-actualization — Help other people reach their potential through creative and moral problem solving


So what Penelope says here is that management is an opportunity to self-actualize. “Some people will self-actualize by being artists, or writing code. Some people will self-actualize through management. Some, a combination. But the point here is that being in management is an opportunity to grow spiritually and give back to the world in a way that is enormously fulfilling. If you allow it. You will need to set aside real time to make this happen. And you need to give generously. No big surprise there, though, because why else are we here, on this planet, except to give to each other?”


When I read this I really felt that it made sense, I just need to put more time into it, guide this person more, teach and understand and support. But that is tougher than just giving directions and it requires so much time, effort and energy. So, as with many things in life, the key is to start by giving and sharing.

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