I recently gifted Julie Zhuo’s book, The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You to a friend of mine who was transitioning into a manager role and decided to give it a read myself. To be clear, I am not a manager. However, not only did I genuinely enjoy the read, I would recommend this book to anybody who is looking for an easy-to-follow guide to rocking your career, earning your confidence and learning how to work within a team structure. While the key points and guidelines she provided seemed to be somewhat obvious, what Julie was very successful in executing was how to identify these key learning opportunities and form eloquent prose to describe these tips with effective accuracy and context that served as a much-needed reminder.
Take time to continue learning and growing
No matter how far you may within your career, there is always more to learn, especially when you work within the world of social media and public relations. The social media landscape is constantly changing and evolving with upgraded features and tools. A social media marketing tactic that was crucial two years ago within a social media strategy plan may not be relevant anymore while something that is a priority today may not have even existed back them. With this in mind, everyone should invest in growth and training. If you spend ten hours learning something new that allows you to be 1% more efficient at your job, then it is a good return on investment knowing that 1% of time saved per year is about 20 hours. Whether it’s a company training or taking time away from your desk to join a meeting, try to find time to step away from your desk and learn what you can take away from these opportunities. Konnect Agency regularly hosts Konnect Universities which allows all members of the organization to learn something new and different from other colleagues. Whether it’s sacrificing your lazy Sunday afternoon or taking an extra hour away from your desk to attend a workshop, I encourage others to make sure you’re not always caught up in the daily minuscule tasks of your job and think of the overarching big pictures of how this small piece of knowledge will help you in the long run as a PR or social media professional.
Be the first person to live your values
A big portion of Julie’s book focused on the idea being able to tactfully receive and give feedback. One big takeaway I took from this section was learning the ability to share with others what you see as valuable and act on it yourself. When you work with a team, even if you’re not a manager yourself, it’s so important to set clear expectations before together. Team members should agree on what success looks like and get ahead of any expected issues. It’s like starting a journey with a well-marked map rather than walking a few miles and checking to see if you’re on track. During this section of the book, one thing that really enlightened and reminded me to do the same is when Julie talked about following your own values. An example provided in the book was when Julie informed a direct report of how much she values feedback and the importance of always seeking out feedback from others. However, during a company review, this exact direct report pointed out that she was disappointed to see that Julie herself never sought out feedback from her colleagues. If you’re not willing to change your behavior for a stated value, then don’t bring it up in the first place.
You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader
Lastly, Julie shared the distinctions between leadership and management that I absolutely loved. A manager is a specific role, with clear principles outlining what a manager does and how is success measured. Leadership, on the other hand, is the skill of being able to guide and influencer other people. One does not have to be a manger to be a leader, anyone can exhibit leadership, regardless of their role.
While the main theme of this book was to be a guide to professionals who are transitioning into a managerial role and the best practices they can follow, anybody can take these tips above to enhance their own career, whatever title they may have.