Value Creation
How to Make Yourself Look Unremarkable as a Manager
August 10, 2020
Justin Young
2 minutes

If you’re invisible, you’re doing something right.

An alarming number of articles I’ve read on management really only try to teach you how to “look good” when you scratch the surface of their content. This can be extremely destructive for your team. The first thing you must adhere to and realise as any kind of manager is that your team does not work for you, you work for them

Your sole mission is to make their lives easier and remove as many hurdles as possible, so your team can be as productive as possible. You should be identifying and managing boring or extra work your team is having to perform, such as endless paperwork, filling out forms or repetitive tasks. These are examples of things that drain energy from your team and slow them down. Anything that sits outside the sphere of work your team must complete to fulfil their current mission should be eliminated, simplified or delegated.

Every member of your team has the right to focus on doing their job, and some may even be so bold as to say they should be allowed to enjoy doing it. It should not just be a pipe dream for employees to get paid to have fun. A manager should work tirelessly to make this dream a reality and strive to remove all the boring aspects of work. 

And yes, this will mean some of those boring, administrative or repetitive tasks that weigh your team down will fall on you to complete. You need to be able to see the reward in making someone else’s life easier, even if it might sometimes make your own life a little harder. 

man standing inside sailboat

Criticise in private, praise in public

Finger pointing and blaming is the clearest indicator of a dysfunctional team. It is the symptom but paradoxically also the cause of many interpersonal issues a team may have. You can give constructive feedback to people in private, but it is your duty to never lay blame on a single individual in public. Any issue is a team issue. If you see anyone reporting a fault and looking for someone to blame you need to step in and make it clear that naming and shaming will not solve the issue, on the contrary it will just slow the solution down. The only thing that matters is how to fix it and how to prevent it from happening again in the future. This approach will organically make your product better and more resilient. 

When it comes to praise, one of the cold hard truths as a manager you might not want to hear is that you did not do any of the actual work that makes your product look good. One of your team members did that. If any praise comes your way this should be redirected to the person who did the actual work. Your ego has no place here, instead champion your team at every opportunity, they will be the ones to carry you to greatness. Your only success metric is how successful your team is!  

Follow these simple philosophies and your team will thank you for it. I guarantee you’ll see an increase in work velocity and a happy and productive work environment! 

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