Is managing humans a craft?

20 Jun

Is managing humans a craft?

My family and I have chosen to live on the beautiful Gold Coast in Queensland Australia, and I commute about 1.5 hours to our office in Brisbane. I have been doing this for about 12 months and like to utilise the drive time as part of my working day. I use the time to make calls, listen to eBooks and more recently to turn everything electronic off and sit in silence.

It was during one of my silent drives, where I was immersed in a sea of my own thoughts that I began reflecting on managing humans.

I realised that I had been doing this for over 20 years…. when did that happen I thought? After a quick calculation or two I confirmed with myself, yes, it is over 20 years.

So why is it so bloody hard?

Maybe I am just bad at it? If I had been a painter for 20 years I would surely be brilliant by now? How long does it take to master this managing people thing?

Every individual is different, sure that is what makes life interesting. But where it gets tricky is when people evolve, change and rotate through differing motivation phases in their lives.

My top five reasons why managing humans will never be automated or truly mastered:

  1. Every human is truly unique
  2. Emotion clouds judgement
  3. Self doubt and lack of confidence influences behaviour
  4. Employee curiosity levels vary
  5. Employee self motivation levels vary:

At wattsnext we are privileged to be intimately involved with up to 100 SME’s each year. Listening and learning about what motivates humans in the workplace is fascinating. The experience gained seeing what works and what doesn’t has been extremely valuable.

Like our clients we are also an SME,which places us in a unique position where we have to control our own emotions when it comes to managing staff.  Over the past decade we have made plenty of our own mistakes and have learnt a lot when it comes to managing people.

One mistake I won’t make though is thinking I have all the management answers. There is no room for complacency in people management. Experience, the right tools and practice definitely help. Often fast growth businesses set new managers up to fail by dropping them in the deep end too quickly.

Managing humans will always remain a craft. One you can improve in, but never truly master.

Back to the silent car ride. Take time out of your week to reflect on what you did well and where you could improve.

Self reflection is the best way to master any craft!


Ben Watts , General Manager

Ben is an experienced and forward-thinking leader specialising in functional business structures and people performance techniques. With twenty years’ experience managing large ASX listed corporates across multiple industries, Ben adds depth and experience to our clients' strategy solutions, truly providing a commercial result for their investment.

1 COMMENT
  • Barry

    Management of others being a craft, it’s really something you never think about. Thank you for taking the time to create such a wonderful piece of writing on the topic.

    More on the topic, initially I didn’t really know how to answer the question for myself, but after reading this I finally figured out my answer. The point that really resonated, was your first about each human being unique. And it’s so true! Every single person that you interact with, is an actual individual. Each one of them being their own person, with their own interests, childhood, family, backstory, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and most importantly, each and every one of them have a consciousness, just like you and I. A consciousness — or awareness — that lets them think for themselves, that connects all their experiences and ideals and beliefs together into a coherent and wonderful personality that is them.

    Managing humans. . . . Successfully at least, requires you to be able to connect — even if at times it’s only on a professional level — to these individuals EVERY single day. Being able to gather their trust, their loyalty and present yourself as a person to be respected and followed with a passion, well that’s just awesome!

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