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What a hopeless manager taught me about running my own business

May 30, 2017

 

Today’s post is based on a true story. It is about a man I worked for back in my corporate days. It was easily the longest, most stressful 18 months of my life. Today I look back at my experience with this manager as a How-(Not)-To Guide for dealing with people in business.

 

This man was rude, intimidating and today I would label him a bully.

I endured his verbal tirades week in, week out until I finally found another role. I felt a huge sense of relief the day I walked out. Hindsight now gives me the ability to look at some of the lessons that I learnt during my time with this manager.

 

The best way to manage people

 

Whilst in this role I was responsible for one staff member. I tried to protect him as much as possible from the management tyranny, but most of all I etched out the beginnings of my own management style. This was rooted in the need to help him to be the best employee possible and empowering him to take control of his own work processes.

 

I’ve brought these lessons with me to my own business. I provide the best support possible to my clients using a collaborative approach. When dealing with any other people in my business I take an empowering, rather than dictatorial approach to relationships.

 

The right way to treat people

 

There is a simple adage that if you want something done, then treat the person nicely. A little honey attracts the bees. This is common sense, but was not how business was done by my manager. He bullied and ordered his way around with our contractors, staff and internal clients. Whilst I tried to be a buffer in meetings to preserve my reputation and that of my colleagues, it was an almost impossible task.

 

He was able to clearly demonstrate to me that ordering and yelling at people was not the best way to get things done. Even the most annoying people in life deserve to be respected and heard.

 

How to deal with strong personalities

 

The most important lesson I learnt was how to mentally deal with an overbearing personality. In the last couple of months of dealing with the manager my attitude shifted phenomenally. I was able to see that I was good at my job and that confidence shifted into my dealings with him.

I felt sorry for him and saw him as a weak person who didn’t know any better. Whilst I never confronted him, our relationship changed substantially the minute he saw my confidence. It was a shield to his words and actions.

 

My advice with dealing with people like this is to stay true to the person you are. You don’t need to be confrontational, rude or arrogant, as this is just reflecting their negative energy. Hold yourself with dignity, show confidence (even if you don’t feel it 100%) and say what you need to say in an even tone.

 

Make sure all your business dealings are a true reflection of your own personal brand and values. Most importantly, remember that in the end you are the one in control and you have the power to determine the path of your relationships.

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