10 Things Your Manager Wants
In writing this blog, I’m assuming some things about the person you report to. I’m assuming that he or she is a good manager who is fair and just. And the fair and just bit is just as important as being a good manager. It’s about an ability to listen and guide. It is about courage to tell you what you need to hear. It’s about sorting out conflicts in a manner that honors all parties. It is about caring about you and helping you grow and succeed.
If these are the qualities that your manager holds, then I believe I know what he or she wants. Your manager wants:
1. To Be Respected
It’s not your manager’s fault they are the manager, and you aren’t. Or that you think someone else should be the manager, not the person in the management seat right now. The fact is you have a manager, and they would like for you to respect them and their authority. There is something magical that happens when an employee treats a manager with respect. Believe me, it works better than running around with a bad attitude, which never works.
2. To Be Understood
It is not easy to be a manager. You have to manage the expectations of those above you, as well as your peers. You have to deal with a number of employees who are different. You have to have the courage to deal with very delicate, and sometimes explosive, situations. It is not easy. And it is always helpful if your employee understands that your job is not easy.
3. To Be Cared About
Being a manager is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. You are often held at a distance. You are often misunderstood or blamed if things go wrong. You have to make choices that will sometimes get someone upset. It is not easy, and it is lonely. Managers would like to be cared for. Not in an emotional sappy way — just simple caring. Just a kind “Thank you for all you do. I know it isn’t easy” would be a great thing to tell your manager every once in a while.
4. To Get the Results You Promised You Would
This one item is very interesting to me. Here’s why, and let me set up some context before I get into it: Your job description, the one you agreed to do, is your contract with the organization to deliver a certain result for certain pay. If it was written well, your job description is the organization’s (your manager’s) statement about what they need you to do. It is a summation of a body of work that needs to be done, which has been rationalized, promoted and approved in the organization such that it now has justified that a salary and certain benefits be paid. This is a huge deal. A group of people decided before you showed up and said: “This is work that needs to be done, and it will contribute value to the organization. Therefore, we will pay $X to get this work done.” That’s it.
Now, by you accepting that job means you have agreed to deliver the results they agreed with you on. Why is this interesting to me? Because over and over again, Jeff and I see major gift officers (MGOs) who, faced with the reality they can’t do the job, faced with circumstances that make fulfilling their employment promise difficult or some other excuse, morph to a position of justifying and defending why they can’t get the results they promised they would.
I saw one situation recently where the failing MGO actually started talking about how their main job was to develop relationships, not raise money.
Your manager wants you to get the results you promised.
5. To Be Responsible and Work Hard
That means to show up on time, make a serious effort in the face of difficulty, follow through on things, be dependable — all the traits of a good employee.
6. To Tell the Truth
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But sometimes it is difficult, I know. There is one situation I am dealing with right now where the person is always “promoting everything enthusiastically” (e.g. spreading the word with embellishment). Everything is fine. Nothing is as bad as it seems. There are no problems. This is a form of lying.
A manager does not need this. The truth is good. And it, ultimately, is easier.
7. To Receive Constructive Criticism Well
Every person on the face of the earth needs constructive criticism because there is always something that each of us does that needs some work. That is reality. And your manager needs to be able to process this material with you without any drama.
8. To Value Others
This means playing as a team member, and not always doing the solo thing. There is nothing more frustrating for a manager than an employee who does not value their fellow team members. No one person is so important that everyone else on the team needs to stop what they are doing and serve them. The finance person, the program person, the secretary or admin person — all of them contribute to the success of the MGO.
If you are disrespecting anyone on the team, please stop because, first, it is not right. And secondly, you are headed down a path of failure. We are all in this together.
9. To Do What Is Right
Sometimes doing what is right goes against what matters to you. And that is when you have a choice. Always do what is right. It is good for you, and your manager wants that. If your manager wants you to secure results even if the way you secure them is not right, pack your bags and run away as fast as you can.
10. To Be Flexible
Phew, this one is tough! I am a very structured person and, over the years, I have had to learn how to value spontaneity and other options over my plan. Why did I learn this? Because often those other ways are better than the plan I had. And every workplace is filled with changing circumstances often moving at a pace that are very quick and demand quick adjustments. Your manager needs you to be flexible so that the team can get the team results.
There may be other things your manager wants, but these 10 come from my experience of managing over the last 40 years, watching others manage and sitting at the feet of wise managers who have given me wise counsel. The main thing I have learned is that hardly anything in life is really solely about me, even as much as I want it to be. And that getting the results I promised to others with a good attitude and team spirit is what is important.
Jeff and I realize that not all managers are good managers. If you are in that situation, my advice is to try to help, as best you can. And if it becomes unbearable, then leave. You do not need your spirit broken by someone who has not grown up yet.
And if you are a manager of MGOs reading this, remember this one point: Being a manager is a sacred trust. You have been selected to get results through a very special group of human beings. Each of them have their own dreams, desires, passions and fears. And it is up to you to help them succeed and be all they can be while they get the results you need from them.
Treat them with care, honor and respect — just as you would want to be treated.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.