three women sitting at a table talking with laptops in front of them

Managerial Green Flags

I’ve been in a really weird place mentally as of late.

With so many things happening in my family and my work life being in flux, I’ve struggled to find solace anywhere and have been coping with some awful depression. In fact, I considered writing a post on finding solace when there is none. But alas, I still cannot find any myself, so cross your fingers that I am more apt to write that post next week…

Typically, when in the throes of a depressive episode, I struggle to post on social media because it just seems like an extra thing I have to do when I’m already struggling to do normal things like eat. Recently, however, I’ve been more active on some channels than I have been in the past few years. 

I told you, my mental state has been in a really weird place.

On the bright side, this means that I have content created elsewhere that I can repurpose for the blog as well (which is very helpful considering the fact that I’m writing this post 3 hours before it goes live!).

While I have been struggling with my work life and receiving several rejections weekly from potential employers, I am constantly reminded that the right people will eventually find me. The people that I’m working with now are truly amazing individuals, and I’ve worked with some awesome people in the past, too. The right people find us, and if we’re receptive to it, they can also teach us their awesome ways. 

I posted on LinkedIn recently about some of the “green flags” (as opposed to “red flags” which imply toxicity) that I have seen by managers in the workplace. What better time to share that positivity here than when I’m feeling down?

Here are some of the green flags that I’ve seen and experienced in my various roles!

Helping employees handle their mistakes and find solutions

I’ve made many mistakes in my life and my professional career. No one is perfect, and sometimes we mess stuff up. During interviews, I actually ask my potential future manager how they handle employee mistakes. I am prone to beating myself up and doubting myself, and if I am constantly berated and belittled, I know that I will not be able to do my best work. I think that’s true for anyone.

Great leaders recognize that their employees are not perfect robots, and they also realize that at the end of the day, they have to answer for their employees’ mistakes. That’s what management is.

I’ve had some excellent managers who were happy to calmly let me know when I had made a mistake and helped me to adjust for the future. Even after being yelled at by their managers for my mistakes, they were able to assure me that everything was fine and that it was handled. That’s how you get the most out of your employees and keep them from feeling too scared to take risks.

Speaking of taking risks…

Encouraging employees to be confident and own their jobs and processes

In one of my annual reviews at a previous job, I was told that the only negative comment that my manager had for me was that I needed to “take a damn risk every once in a while.” I was so unconfident in my work that I couldn’t do anything without prior approval, even when I knew that I was doing it correctly.

I’ve had several excellent managers step in to tell me that I needed to be more confident and that I had no reason to doubt myself. They encouraged me by bolstering my self-confidence and pointing out my strengths. They reminded me that mistakes were inevitable, but I knew what I was doing. They would happily be my backup but knew I wouldn’t need it.

Stop asking for backup and just do the damn thing!

Asking for my opinion

When there is something that I feel is blatantly worth calling out, I try to do it (although with the aforementioned lack of confidence, this isn’t always easy). However, those times are pretty rare. Otherwise, I go about my day and do my job without making comments. Excellent managers that I’ve had won’t settle for that, though!

After making a requested change, I’ve had managers ask me my opinion on the change. Was it better or worse than what was there before? How did I feel it reflected on the brand? I am working on getting comfortable sharing my opinion (and being more opinionated in general) because these managers have let me know that my voice matters. I have expertise that is worth sharing, so I should share it!

Listening to employees’ ideas and making adjustments according to their feedback

Beyond simply asking for my opinion on the day-to-day, I’ve also had awesome managers who quickly and enthusiastically apply my feedback on larger decisions.

As someone who has never had a management role in my career (yet?), I usually assume that my thoughts don’t matter much. Businesses function in a certain way, so not all employees’ feedback can be taken into consideration…no matter how many times I request a chocolate fountain in the breakroom…

Managers can occasionally ask their employees for advice, but many don’t (and sometimes can’t) act on that advice. I have had excellent managers who not only make me feel heard in the moment, but also carry out my ideas. Nothing has made me feel more connected to and invested in the success of a company than feeling like my opinions are being considered and implemented. When a manager actually listens to their employees and recognizes that they have fresh perspectives, managers create loyal and confident employees.

Taking the time to recognize and celebrate when employees succeed

I have always struggled celebrating my victories. I tend to jump from one goal to the next and never give myself credit when credit is due. I’ve even joked on here that I am so “balanced” because I berate myself for an extended period of time when I do something wrong, but I never celebrate when I do something right.

“Gifted child” syndrome, amirite?

In one of my recent meetings, I went to dive right into my agenda and my manager stopped me because they wanted to acknowledge the great work that I had been doing. This stunned me. I hadn’t even stopped to consider the positive impact that my work had made for the company. Other managers have been liberal in doling out praise for my work and have even asked me to keep track of all of the awesome wins that I have.

Should I ever become a manager, I want to make sure I bring this celebratory energy to my employees.

Caring about employees’ mental and physical health and encouraging them to set and maintain healthy boundaries

Setting boundaries at work is crucial, but unfortunately, we hear about many places that do not want workers to set and maintain boundaries. Like any relationship, your relationship with work should function in a way that is beneficial for everyone and not make you feel worn down and abused. While I am still working on creating and maintaining healthy boundaries at work, I have had several managers encourage me to do so. Between reminding me that work doesn’t have to be done after hours to offering me support during difficult times, awesome managers always remember that they aren’t managing robots.

They’re managing people.

Teaching your employees how to be better

We have already established that I make mistakes. I don’t think that came as a surprise to anyone. As a generalist, I jump into different types of projects all of the time, some of which I have never been trained in. Obviously, for these tasks, there is a higher margin of error.

When I do jump into an entirely new task, typically it needs to be fixed with corrections from my manager. Often, I’ve found that great managers will make improvements, explain those improvements, and then trust you to carry that knowledge with you. Instead of taking the responsibility of those tasks away from me (which imposter syndrome always tells me will happen),  my managers have simply guided me in the right direction and allowed me the creative liberties to try again next time with the knowledge they’ve given me.

Thank you to all of the awesome managers out there! You are appreciated!

I hope that all of you reading have had the experience of working with great managers (ideally not just in the past, but in the present!). Are there any green flags that you’ve seen in your experience that I missed?

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

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