Professional Development

5 things that will make you a better manager in challenging times

In 2022, those in leadership roles continue to face challenges both internal and international. This advice can make it easier for you and your team.

Leading a team in when the world is full of uncertainty isn't easy.

(Photo Andrea Piacquadioby from Pexels)

Whether you are a startup founder, the CEO of a mid-size company or a project manager for a large corporation, running the show is a challenge — because managing any team is a challenge.

Managing in 2022 has its own set of challenges, with “uncertainty” being the word of the decade so far: The pandemic brings uncertainty, global stability is uncertain, even American democracy isn’t a given. You have to keep an eye on your bottom line, but you can’t lose sight of the fact that your team is going through some things, just by virtue of the time we live in.

So how can you be a better boss amidst it all?

You can start by listening, being flexible and understanding that work-from-home days are no longer just a nice side perk.

That’s the short answer.

Technical.ly dug into our archives to round up some of the best advice for managers and bosses over the years, from some of the most impactful leaders we know. Here’s what some of them said:

1. Give leeway when the news gets especially grim

Some things are too grim to ignore — the George Floyd murder, the Jan. 6 insurrection, the attack on Ukraine.

Shanna Hocking, founder of the Philadelphia leadership consultancy Hocking Leadership, advises managers to allow their employees some leeway on bad days.

“Leaders should understand that team members may not be fully focused on work right now and extend grace,” she said last year after the insurrection. “If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that there is little separation between personal and professional — who we are in our lives is who we are at work, too.”

2. Don’t pretend everything is “normal”

Joey Price, CEO of Baltimore’s Jumpstart:HR, contributed a 2021 guest post offering a look at pandemic-era considerations, from PTO to planning for a slowdown. Though the US is largely moving away from COVID-19 restrictions, the uncertainty remains relevant.

“It’s OK to know that there are things that you don’t know,” he said. “It’s even OK if you feel scared, nervous, uneasy or unsure about the future of the organization. What’s not OK, however, is to pretend that we are not in uncertain times that require solid answers to the questions that are on all of your worker’s minds.”

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3. Pay attention to other issues that may be making employees dissatisfied

David Mendlewicz, cofounder of Butterfly.ai, a Brooklyn-based software product that helps managers understand issues within their teams, told us back in 2017 that one thing his team has learned from developing the tool is that managers need to notice (sometimes literal) pain patterns.

In one example, “people were complaining they had back pain,” he said. “The thing the tool came up with was the importance of being healthy at work and [its] impact on profitability.”

4. Find your balance

Brett Harned, the Philly-area project manager consultant and founder of the Digital PM Summit, offered some advice in 2014 that’s still fresh:

“A good project manager can find the balance between being in the weeds of the project and interacting with a team and clients while contributing to the success of a project, or even a single deliverable,” he said. “The bottom line is that we’re people-people — we care about the well-being of our teams just as much, if not more, than the bottom line.”

5. Don’t assume you’re right

Sometimes — maybe even most of the time — you’ve got to be humble.

Elad Nafshi, Comcast’s new EVP and chief network officer, offered some seasoned advice this month.

“Always seek feedback as a manager,” he said. “Never assume that you’re right, because most of the time you’re not.” Being humble, open to feedback and honest with your team is the only way to grow better as a person and a manager.

Do you have some good advice for current and future leaders? Drop us a line at editorial@technical.ly or join us on our public Slack:

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