I have always been very interested in the study of management and leadership. My degree from Penn State is in Business Management and Organizational Leadership, and all throughout my life I have had moments and mentors who have instilled important lessons in what it takes to be a great leader. Some of these moments have been good, others have been moments to reflect on what NOT to do as a manager. I am sure we can all relate to that to some degree...
I wanted to write this blog focused on Management because I just recently encountered a few of those moments and mentors in my own career that created a really positive experience, and I think my audience here can benefit greatly from this perspective.
As I have blogged about recently, I made a huge career change last year and left the CPG industry to pursue a career in financial services recruitment. Two of the biggest reasons for my departure from my prior two companies came down to two things:
1. My Happiness
2. Having a Manager that understood me.
So when I began the interview process with Michael Page, I was very focused on these things- could I see myself happy in this role? Could I see myself enjoying this work? And what about my manager? Do I TRUST them?
Flash forward almost 6 months now and I can absolutely say that I made the correct decision, I have not been this happy at work in a very long time. When I first met my manager Lindsey, we talked for well over an hour, and she clearly wanted to get to know me as a person, not just a recruitment consultant.
Since that first interview not only have I grown an immense amount of trust in Lindsey as a manager, but she also has given me her trust. This is what I believe is the single most important element to being a successful manager. Trust.
When you hire someone, you are undoubtedly taking a risk. You can only know so much about a person from an interview process, no matter how many times you choose to interview them. You have to take a leap of faith to some degree and see how it goes. What you do as a manager once that person starts however, will significantly alter the likelihood of their success or not in their role.
Very early on in my time at Michael Page, Lindsey and I had a one on one, in which she asked me, "what motivates you?" As I looked back at her in the Zoom Camera to answer that question, I recognized I had not had a manger ask me that in a really long time- and to be honest with you- I began to get a bit emotional. I have since reflected a lot about what motivates me in my current role. One large motivator of mine is recognition. For better or worse, I have always seeked approval from others, to the point that it has been detrimental to my own mental health. And although I am continually working on getting better at this, it does not detract from the fact that I do find myself motivated when my hard work is recognized from my peers and managers.
I am also motivated by seeing growth in my own personal development, and having the opportunity to develop others. A goal of mine here at Michael Page is to become a Manager, and have the ability to coach and develop a recruitment consultant, and hopefully one day-a team. Having the opportunity to see growth in others, and to have a small part in that development, has always been a very special experience to me.
Before I go any further into my recent experience that I wanted to share that prompted this blog, I thought I'd share this clip from one of my favorite entrepreneurs and content creators, Gary V. He's a really polarizing figure in today's social media landscape, and I have grown to be a huge fan of his views on business, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
Did you catch what he said there starting around the 45 second mark?
"The highest ROI is when you listen to your employees... Retention on the employee level is imperative, happiness is imperative, because it leads to speed. And that is your competitive advantage... When no one is worried about politics and drama, they can focus on the work."
I have written at length and spoken about the importance of employee retention, especially as we navigate the unchartered waters of the Great Resignation (which is still in full effect btw).
The most important key to employee retention is happiness. In order to make sure your people are happy, you need to level-set with them and understand what they need from you, and what drives them. Once these things can become established, there is a clear path forward.
Just two weeks ago, I had my regular morning catch-up with my manager Lindsey. While we were talking, she mentioned to me a job had came in from another team here at Michael Page for an Accounting role with a FinTech firm here in the city. The job brief call was going to be in 20 minutes, and Lindsey asked me if I wanted to jump on and lead it.
After only being here 6 months, Lindsey could have been hesitant to let me lead that call by myself. But she trusted that even with a short turn-around time I could take the call, and grow from that experience. And that's just what I did.
After about a 40 minute conversation about the firm's role, their team, and a contract negotiation, I was able to get the client on and jump right into identifying the background they were looking for. Whether it was luck or good timing, I found a few excellent candidates within 48 hours and was able to send them over for interviews. In just 13 days time, we went from a job brief call to an offer accepted, an incredibly efficient and quick process in our industry.
What was our clear competitive advantage in this scenario? Trust & Speed.
Don't get me wrong, I am aware that we had a lot of things go right in this situation. Having a client willing to schedule interviews with the level of speed and consistency that ours did was wonderful. And the candidate we presented them with happened to come on the job market at the exact time we began the search. But we put ourselves to win in this situation because we have a culture that trusts our people, and enables them to move with speed.
When I become a manger, I will give those that work with me my trust. I know this can be much more difficult said then done, especially as a new manager, but I have recognized throughout my career that those that provide trust to their employees allow for them to grow and feel comfortable at work. I will focus on building a meaningful relationships that will go beyond just the nuts and bolts of the job we are executing. I want to get to learn more about what they do when they close their laptop at the end of the day. I want them to get to know me and what I like to do.
These are all lessons and notes I have taken away from the leadership styles I have been exposed to. I encourage you as you are reading this now to take a minute and reflect on the best manager you ever had. How did they value trust? Did they get to know you as a person rather than just another contributor to their team? Did they give you opportunities to grow and challenge you?
Every situation is different, and I recognize that some people may have contradictory views, or additional thoughts on this matter. I hope you share them with me. And if not, share them with your manager.
Having the opportunity to talk with your manager about ways they can improve on coaching and development is critical to both you and your managers success. I recognize that some people will not be as easy to talk to about the subject, and you very well may be in a situation that you don't feel comfortable talking to your manager given the dynamic of your relationship. I have been there. It's incredibly difficult. And looking back now on those times, I wish I made it more of a point to call out where I needed more help, and what my manager could have done differently to get me in a better place. But these experiences helped shaped me to the person I have become today, and provided me with lessons that will carry with me for the rest of my career.
If you are interested in making a career move, or know someone who may be thinking of making a move, I would be happy to see how I can be a resource to you.
Feel free to message me on LinkedIn, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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