Thursday, September 12, 2013
September 12, 2013
I know many of you are new managers or will be new managers in the future. I'd like to share a story that could help when you get that big job/promotion.
I had been a successful program director and VP/Programming for several years and was very fortunate to be given my first GM position at a failing radio station that desperately needed help from a programming-oriented manager. I had been working toward that goal for years and suddenly it was thrust upon me because I had done my homework and lots of people in high places knew it. One of the people I had worked for years before heard from a CEO friend that he was looking for someone fitting my professional description. The interview went perfectly and I was hired.
Unless you're a narcissist there is no amount of preparation that sets you up for that first day alone at the top. The station had been owned by an oil company previously so oil company standards were used in the design. The manager's office was the size of a football field with a huge desk, plush side chairs, a full conference table, and a couch that folded out into a king-sized bed (God only knows the stories that couch could tell). Oh, and a full bathroom with tub and shower.
My first day, the CEO introduced me to the staff and left as I made my prepared remarks. After that I walked into the office, sat down behind that huge desk, put both hands on the desk top, and said to myself, "What the heck do I do now!" I felt like a little boy in first grade sitting at a desk made for 4th graders. No matter how much you think you're prepared, that first day is internally tough. My new assistant came in and asked if I was okay. I smiled and was honest with her that I was feeling like the dog that finally caught the car! We became good friends, probably because we continued to be brutally honest with each other.
That day I decided the most powerful thing to do was to be myself while I observed and evaluated them. Interestingly, the staff was pretty good and the station thrived without many personnel changes. It was just a matter of direction and motivation.
People (mostly you yourself!) try to mold you into the vision of what a manager should be. The real secret is to never forget who you are. I am reminded of a quote from the poet e. e. cummings: "The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone trying to make you be somebody else."
Always remember, the person you have to be most careful of is yourself. Your urge to change when you become a manager is almost overpowering as you get unlimited advice. The good managers never forget where they came from.
Good luck as you move forward and remember your roots. They made you who you are.
Comments? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.