Becoming a Manager goes differently for everyone. I never had much prior experience in managing employees before hiring K.Lo (at all), and yet I found the first year of managing a relative breeze. Tiny employees are so portable, so pliable, so charming! Or maybe it was just K.Lo, at the time. Or even just me, at the time, with a seemingly infinite supply of patience, and maybe even a natural inclination toward managing new hires? Also, managing was so much better than my former occupation(s) that my job satisfaction level with this new gig remained steadily high. Or maybe I'm rewriting company history.

When I think about K.Lo's first year of employment, the word ease comes to mind. Yes, there were difficult issues, such as (always) a lack of productivity on the Night Shift. Or like the time I read about not feeding the little dears raw honey and wondering with a chill what other important memos I might have missed. But, for the most part, I felt equipped to handle these problems, mainly because in the first year, training employees involves so much purely physical, standard work. Change the diapers, serve meals in the cafeteria, etc. It is tiring, yes, and involves acquiring a whole new skill set, but problems seemed to have fairly simple solutions. Consult a training manual here, confer with a colleague there, or simply wait it out, and more often than not, the issue would be overcome. Managing was not easy, necessarily, but it was simple.

After K.Lo reached her one-year date-of-hire anniversary, the energy required to manage my employee changed. In addition to the physical work of guiding K.Lo through her day, interactions became increasingly complex. Social. Requiring, from moment to moment, so much more managerial finesse. Granted, by then our company had decided to bring a second employee on board, so my energy was compromised in another way. But overall, I felt, and still feel, that managing employees is a much more challenging endeavor after that first year.

If requested, I could submit to you a specific log of our workday, but it would only cover the concrete details: what projects each employee worked on, what meals were served and eaten in the cafeteria, what topics were covered in each training session, dialogues between Management and employee. I could never begin to cover the more abstract details of the workday, specifically the thought process behind each managerial decision. Explaining the "why" of each negotiation. These decisions are based on so many nuances: employee mood, managerial mood, current shift, recent progress reports, scheduling, workday agendas, and so forth. Making these decisions requires, above all, a lot of intuitive energy, and that is where my resources feel spent.

Mainly, due to my lack of prior managerial experience, I don't already possess the sort of intuition required for this job: I have to build it. I am building it. Every day I'm acquiring more skills, and practicing already-learned skills, building up my resume for managing small employees.

I am putting some good tricks in my bag, tricks that eventually (hopefully) will become second nature to employ.

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3 peanuts:
  1. Megan says:

    It's always a work in progress, that's for sure. You know where you've been, but really have no idea where you're headed with the first one. The second employee seems to be the slide right in under the 'been there' label, though, don't they?

    No matter what, your employees are thriving under the current management so I say Bravo! and definitely see cause for a raise!

  1. Andria says:

    This post is awesome and I totally get it. what you are trying to say is hard to communicate unless you are living or have lived through it. It is exhausting how much thought has to go into each interaction and response. I agree, year 1, so much more mechanical and manageable!! And even the comparison of having a 2 year hire with the newbie, makes you appreciate the new hire's ease so much, but also plays into the guilt of not having the resources to devote! ugh, it's a struggle, i tell you. all of it. but, oh so rewarding, too, so keep it up and it will all pay off in the end. You are doing a fabulous job! Look at those adorable, happy, healthy faces (LOVE the updated photos on the side) and don't have any doubts about your skill set. You are surely slated for Manager of the Year at The Lo. Co., no worries.

  1. penelope says:

    Thanks, ladies. You guys rock!