Reflections On Career – Learning To Be A Manager

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It’s been more than two years since I’ve started a new career path.

Deciding to drop a writing-centric career to pursue digital marketing wasn’t an easy decision. Or rather, I didn’t have a choice since it was so tough finding a non-entry writing role.

That said, I didn’t regret my decision in making the switch.

I’ve learned a lot about digital marketing – a skill that has grown to become increasingly essential in this day of age.

More importantly, I’m lucky to have been given the chance to try managing a small team.

Growing into a manager

I always thought that promoting to become a manager is a natural progression for every role – that’s the step right after a senior executive or equivalent position.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Being a manager means that my job scope changed quite a bit: it’s no longer just managing my own performance, but I’m also now responsible for the team’s performance.

In fact, my performance as a manager is determined by how my team performs.

Being good at my job alone is not enough. I had to be good at training, grooming, and supporting my team members.

And unlike most roles, feedback – both verbal and non-verbal – is not easily received as a manager.

Who is going to tell you in the face that you’re not doing a good job?

Perhaps only your manager or boss. But how would they know if you’re not managing them?

I’ve heard of too many horror stories about new managers realising that their team members hate their guts only after the latter is leaving the company (the manager is the only one not invited to the farewell party or the likes of it).

Feeling my way as a new manager

As an introvert at heart, the thought of having to be directly responsible for a group of people’s performance was intimidating at the start.

Interacting with colleagues in the office is very different than having to lead and train them as a manager.

Although introverts can be good managers, it doesn’t come naturally for most of us.

For me, I didn’t dread the new responsibility but I could certainly feel the heat and weight on my shoulders.

“How often should I speak to my team members? How should the tone be for each individual? How do I know if whatever I’m doing is not wrong?”

And so many more questions that go on at the back of my mind.

How will I fare as a manager?

Fast forward six months later, I’m still not sure what exactly I’m doing right or wrong or everything in between.

And I’ve come to terms with it – there’s no way to know until much later when either your team members (hopefully) show appreciation in direct or indirect ways or you hear from the grapevines.

What I can do is to continue reading what seasoned managers share about their experiences, mistakes, challenges, resolutions, and all. (One good book I’ve read is The Making Of A Manager)

If 10 or more different managers/leaders say the same about an aspect of management, there has to be some truth in it.

For instance, managers should spend more time understanding the needs of your team members instead of just focusing on what you want them to do.

To be very honest, though, I’m still on the fence whether the managerial path is what suits me.

These reflections on my current career path, though, would help me understand myself a bit better and whether I’d thrive as a manager.

After all, I’ll only grow if I do what scares me.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”

– Caroline Myss

About the author

Vance Wong
Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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Vance Wong by Vance Wong

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Vance Wong

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.