Advice For The New Boss

woman speaks to group at conference tableCountless articles, books, and videos exist on how to be a good manager and leader. Here I will try a more concrete approach. This is the talk I'd give my employees if I were a new manager or leader.

"I want to do everything I can to be a manager you'll respect and who facilitates your being your best selves. Perhaps you'll find it useful for me to briefly tell you my philosophy of management.

I believe in treating each of you, not equally, but fairly. You're all individuals and so you all have different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Some of you do better with lots of freedom, others with close supervision and accountability. Some prefer very specific instructions while others would consider that micromanagement. I'll try to flex to meet each of your needs---I want to create an environment that enables each of you to, as I said, be your best self.
To that end, I encourage you to let me know your strengths and weaknesses and how we might tweak your job so you can be your best self. I can't necessarily expect you to do that if I don't.

So let me tell you a few of my strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: I'm good at coming up with ideas and practical plans for implementing them, and addressing problems. I work hard--You'll see me here early and late and not taking lots of breaks. I try to have a sense of perspective--recognizing how important something is in the larger scheme of things. Weaknesses: I tend to be intense. I don't expect you to be as driven as I am. Just don't be intimidated my intensity. I'm harmless---unless you're lazy, hurtful, or dishonest. Another weakness is that I tend to interrupt. I know it's rude but I can't seem to make myself stop. I apologize in advance. It's nothing personal.

Most managers say they have an open-door policy and welcome questions, concerns, and suggestions, but not all managers really do. I really do. If there's bad news, I'd rather hear it early so there's time to address it. Sure, if it's a problem that will likely be solved without me, great, but if I need to know, please tell me. I'll respect you for that.

And yes, I appreciate self-starters---people who can get the job done without a lot of assistance--but I'd rather you ask for help than for you not to get the job done on time or to get it done but poorly. Talk to me.

To kick things off, I'm going to meet individually with each of you to hear your ideas, concerns, and advice for me in my new role.

Some of you may wonder how important our work is. After all, we're just a small cog in a very large wheel here at Amalgamated Distribution Inc. But when you stop to think about it, we ten people are responsible for ensuring that countless products get to stores so people can get the things they need for themselves and their families. Think of how you feel when you go to a store and the item you expect to be there isn't there. Our job is to make people happy and not disappointed. That's important and ethical work. We can go home to our families every night and feel proud of what we do.

And on that note, let me say that I'm pleased to be your manager, that I realize that a manager can make a big difference--positive or negative--in the lives of employees, that I take my responsibility to you as well as to the company seriously, and will do everything I can to earn your respect, to make this one of the company's most respected work groups, and to make this a place you'll look forward to coming to every morning. Onward and upward.

Dear reader, whether you're a new manager or a veteran, does this talk suggest any principles of leadership or even of living that you'd like to adopt?

Best And Worst TV Bosses
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Advice For The New Boss

Played by: Steve Carell

Where He Works: Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa. He is a manager.

Management Style: Scott is the kind of boss who desperately wants to be your friend. And so he often forces his workers to attend events with him outside of work. For instance, Scott requires attendance at his annual awards show for his workers called, "The Dundies." As the self-appointed host of the program, Scott takes turns singing covers of songs like "You Sexy Thing" while his workers stare on helplessly.

He's also famously incompetent and shockingly insensitive. At one point, Michael injures his foot after he steps on a George Foreman grill and he's disappointed when his workers don't seem to treat him with enough sympathy when he shows up on crutches. So he invites a colleague who is physically disabled to discuss what life in a wheelchair is like.

 Quote: "Sometimes I'll start a sentence, and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way. Like an improv conversation. An improversation."

Voiced by: Harry Shearer

 Where He Works: Springfield Nuclear Plant. He is the owner. 

Management Style: Burns is the cartoon version of the outrageously-rich, unscrupulous corporate titan who only cares about the bottom line. He can't be bothered to remember the names of even some of his longtime employees, including Homer Simpson. Whenever Burns comes across a problem or is asked to donate to charity, his response is to "release the hounds" -- and immediately his attack dogs arrive to deal with the problem.

He will do anything to increase profits. A high point on the series: Burns creates a shield to block out the sun so the residents of Springfield are forced to use more electricity powered by his nuclear plant. And finally, Burns should have walked away from the job long ago. His advanced age is an ongoing joke on the show and is demonstrated by his constant use of archaic words -- "score" for "20;" "petroleum distillate" for "gasoline;" and "jumping box" for "television."

 Quote:  "I think I'll donate a million dollars to the local orphanage. When pigs fly!"  

Played by: Jon Hamm 

Where He Works:  Manhattan advertising firm Sterling Cooper; later the new firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, which has since merged with Cutler Gleason & Chaough. He started as a creative director.

Management Style: Draper is the brilliant and dashing but flawed boss. He has risen in the New York advertising industry of the 1960s because of his visionary work and ability to charm men and women alike. He's also a brilliant tactician. Early in the show, he comes up with an ad campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes that will help the brand survive the new attention cigarettes then began receiving over causing cancer. He comes up with a slogan: “It's Toasted.”   

Draper, like many successful leaders, is less successful in personal relationships. His first marriage falls apart due to his constant womanizing. His second marriage isn't too stable, either, thanks to his personal demons. He can be imperious with underlings, but people find him irresistible and charismatic. 

Quote: "What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons."

Played by: Ian Abercrombie

 Where He Works: Doubleday Publishing. He is an executive. 

 Management Style: Mr. Pitt is the quirky boss who makes strange demands. He asks Elaine, who works as his assistant, to complete soul-crushing tasks. She must pick out the "perfect" pair of socks for him to wear. And of course, he doesn't like any of them because they don't stay up, they're too tight or they're not comfortable enough. She's also assigned the task of removing salt from his pretzel sticks.

Indeed, working life with Mr. Pitt requires a constant tolerance for ridiculous behavior. Mr. Pitt is excessively formal -- he eats his snickers with a fork and knife. He also has bizarre interests. He spends time focusing on winning a contest so he can help hold up the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. He's also easily distracted; he spends days staring into a 3-D painting  when he should be focused on a business meeting to discuss a new merger. 

 Quote: "I want a decent sock that's comfortable that will stay on my foot!"

Played by: Gary Cole

 Where He Works:  Initech software company. He is a vice president.

 Management Style: Lumbergh is the corporate bully who thinks he's a smooth operator but is just painfully obvious. He greets his workers with the same smarmy catchphrase -- "What's haaappening?" He constantly uses  the same sayings -- "I'm gonna need you to" and "if you could just go ahead and"  -- to assign tasks as if they were pleasant or optional when they are anything but. And of course, Lumbergh' is almost always checking up on the progress of "TPS reports," the mind-numbing paper-pushing his workers are forced to complete.

He's also shameless about his big paycheck. Each day, he drives to work in a Porsche that has a vanity license plate that reads "MY PRSCHE." He's so over the top he even makes the bizarre fashion choice of wearing both a belt and suspenders at the same time.

 Quote: [Voice Message] "Hello Peter, what's happening? mmm, I'm gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk... oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up."  

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