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Roberto Martinez

Being a Boss is not easy, you are in the spot and it requires a feeling to do what is right with always somebody not agreeing to it. Some subordinates always have a better an alternative option for what you decided. People feelings are hurt when pressure in on top of them and Boss is always guilty. No matter what, you must get the job done. Show the love for the people and they will recognize you are doing what you need to do.

Sharon Markovsky

I know this response is a little late, but I just saw this post. And boy howdy did this resonate with me. All through school we are taught that we are supposed to rise through the ranks so that we can get to the point where we manage other people. And once we get there we realize that we haven't been properly trained. It's sort of like getting a battle promotion. And oh how easy it is to ridicule management's decisions when you haven't walked a mile in a manager's shoes. I have taken an MBA class with Dr. Bret Simmons and we touched on this topic. Until you are a manager, you really don't know how hard it is to be one (a good one anyway). Especially if you don't manage people that have the same values and work ethic that you do.

Here's the rub though. Managers need to do a better job in getting their staff involved and communicating with them. The manager's work should be transparent. The manager should be explaining to his/her staff exactly what he/she is doing on a daily basis so the unavoidable questions/gossip doesn't arise..."what does he/she do all day?" I can tell you it would help if my manager did that.

So I guess in my humble opinion, training and communication could help ease this new manager blues.

Eldar Dzhafarov

Thank you for the great post.

In my experience I found that being a great boss is definitely hard. Especially for employees when there is a transition between an old boss to a new one. I think it is very important for both (employees and managers) to really, really listen to each other and discuss things like: Employees - "Here is what seems to have worked before. Here is what we are used to doing." Managers - "Here is what I would like to change. I am not sure why we are doing things this way. Can we change this and do that instead? Are there going to be any roadblocks if we do this?" and etc.

Thanks, Eldar.

Wally Bock

Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best independent business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.

Wally Bock

Tiberiu Toth

Being a manager is like water.

You should be prepare to everything. There aren't 2 days matching one another. Like water, you must feel the complexity of situations,talk to people, put yourself in their place, analize different points of view and considering all of the aspects, and after all this, keep focus on objectives and target. Nevertheless, if situation changes and the objectives can't be reached, don't be stuborn and rethink the project. It's like water that goes through rocks or find an easier way going round the mountain.

In my experience as manager in fields like retail or forestry, there were teams from managers to workers. I have to find the proper way to work with universitary professors or with forest workers.
Same manager has to adjust his speach, thinking, negociation, language, atitude, regarding who is dealing with. Sometimes this is one of the main obstacles for the newbies.

In the end, if the manager keeps in mind that the work is done together with his team and his goal is just to guide the team then the problems will be half solved.
P.S. Being from Romania, I have to apologize for any language or writing mistakes.


Great little read. Making of a manager

Wally Bock

Marvelous post, Bob. One of the problems of training new bosses in supervisory skills is that the advice they get from Masters is often phrased in the distilled simplicity of experience. So Art Jones, the single best supervisor I ever observed in action would often tell new supervisors that "Rules are just guidelines." They were for Art, he had developed an entire internal guidance systems about how to put that into practice, but less experienced supervisors didn't have that.

Most "leadership development" programs are isolated courses that don't recognize that leadership development is cumulative. If you can help less experienced supervisors learn, use peer support to help them get vicarious experience, and teach them to use feedback and mentors, you can help them develop faster and more effectively.

Roussopulos Sissis

A very interesting article. Thank you very much for that.

I just want to add my comment and my thoughts about good and bad bosses :-)

As laura I also made the experience that experienced bosses are more comfortable delegating and sometimes appear to work less, which can irritate newbies, whereas less experienced bosses tend to be control freaks because they fear making mistakes, which can irritate experienced employees.

As a young newbe manager (25 years old) I fully understand the fear of making mistakes. Especially if your employees are much older than have you, much more specific experience and knowledge. It is not easy to shut up such a fear. However I believe that mistakes during the management carreer are very important and a carefully evaluation of this mistakes are essential for becoming a good manager (learning).

Managing is very complex and you have to get a feeling for this over time. And it takes a lot of time. The most thinks I´ve learned during my Bachelor and MBA studies are usefull but often can not be applied in real organisational situations. My former manager ones told me, do not spend more than 3 hours of your working day working on daily issues, spend at least 4 ours a day talking to and socializing with people in all departments.

As I heard this I thought that this is an idiot. Know I know it better....

I wish my boss were simple and competent...

I guess that is what I am striving for too.


Dwayne Phillips

One of the best piece of advice I ever received: prepare to be unprepared.

Have it in your pocket. Be ready to say, "Wow, that is a surprise. I wasn't prepared for this. What do you think we should do?"


In my experience you've basically hit the nail on the head, with perhaps some emendations. There's an old typology in the AI community that talks about the evolution from Student to Apprentice to Journeyman to Expert to Master. Over the course of the evolution more and more rules are accumulated but Experts start to reduce them to core principles while Masters make decisions intuitively that both take hundreds of rules to represent and go beyond simple linear logics. That's been my experience in every discipline I've worked in - Einstein's old dictum: "you really know physics when you can explain it to a sixth grader".
Adding to it one of the biggest gaps I found was the shock of discovering the chasm between employees self-perceptions and actual delivery (rooted in their inability and unwillingness to look at the group as a whole). The other big shock was finding out that the goto guys who would tackle something new were a tiny minority, most are stick-in-the-muds and many are active obstacles in turbulence.

Laura Schroeder

This post (and my own previous comment to this post) inspired a post of my own:


The manager position seems to bring out the worst and/or the best in our nature. If you don't like what you see in yourself as a manager, then you probably shouldn't be one. People also seem to forget what brought them to the manager position in the first place and start to play a role they don't master. People are promoted for their abilities, or the abilities they had before they became a manager. When they finally become one, they seem to throw away all that wisdom and start to play a role they don't master.

Laura Schroeder

I second Jarie Bolander's comment and also want to add that wanting to be a good boss to people is critical to being a good boss - not enough in itself but an essential first step. But people are tricky to please. As a personal example, when I was fresh out of school with no kids and working 80 hour weeks, I thought (some of) my managers didn't work hard enough to justify being managers of someone as hard working and productive as myself. Now, with a decade of experience under my belt, I am much more appreciative of a relaxed, hands-off style. I have found that experienced bosses are more comfortable delegating and sometimes appear to work less, which can irritate newbies, whereas less experienced bosses tend to be control freaks because they fear making mistakes, which can irritate experienced employees.

Daniel Christadoss

Does it help sometimes if the boss is more of a generalist and he is overseeing specialists.
I have found that when we are technically very involved it sometimes becomes difficult withdraw, empower and delegate.

Norris Krueger

The evolution makes sense from a couple of perspectives - sounds like the evolution of great design, doesn't it?

But the first thing that struck me is that it parallels how the scripts and maps of an expert evolve. Novices have a simplistic script, then as we grow we get really complicated, then the expert ends up with blindingly simple (if only to them) scripts.

Hope your 2010 absolutely rocks! (and cheers to Tina & Tom at STVP)

Jarie Bolander

The journey to becoming a great boss requires more empathy than most managers truly understand. Deep understanding is part of empathy because in order to fully understand something, you need to figure out how it will affect people.

This is more true in science and engineering than in any other industry. The reason is simple. Management is about making decisions with little data that involve messy humans. Scientists and engineers are used to certainty. The laws of Physics always apply and the solution is there -- you just need to work hard at it.

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