I’ve always prided myself on being a good manager. I support my direct reports, communicating clearly and compassionately, and always have their back. Recently, it occurred to me that, being self-employed, I no longer have a manager. Oh wait, I do – it’s me. Fortunately, I’m a good one, right?
Well, it turns out that a lot of bad managerial habits bubbled up to the surface when I became my own manager. Impatience? Check. Unrealistic expectations? Check. That compassion I mentioned? Nowhere to be found.
I sat down with myself and had the necessary difficult conversation. “Look,” I said, “when you tell me that I should be getting my work done faster, I feel anxious and frustrated. That makes it even harder to be productive.” My manager-self listened and reflected back what she had heard. She committed to several changes in the future:
Set clear expectations: My “me-nager” is very ambitious and has a lot of good ideas. But there are too many to do at one time. So, each week, we will agree on the top priorities.
Meet the person where they are: Working independently is new to me. Consequently, I’m not as efficient as when I held a full-time job in an office. We agreed to be understanding when tasks take longer than expected.
Support balance and flexibility: When I had to work over the weekend to meet a deliverable for our book proposal, my “me-nager” suggested that I take all of Monday off. That worked out great because I could enjoy a visit with friends without worrying about what time I’d be back in the “office”.
We’re off to a good start. I’m a little nervous about performance reviews and compensation planning, but we’ll figure that out when we get there.