Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Pros and Cons of Working From Home

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16 JUNE 2019

written by Mike

PROS AND CONS OF

WORKING FROM HOME

 

One of the recent changes in how people work is the focus on flexibility as well as comfort and working from home seems to tick these two boxes.

There aren’t many more comfortable places than our own homes and having an office next to your bedroom (or in your bedroom) offers a lot of flexibility with your day.

In the past, working from home meant running a business and being self-employed; however, this is also changing. More and more companies, especially ones that operate on the internet, allow their employees to do some work from home. It may be an occasional day here and there or a flexible schedule, but, I can see these options available more easily now.

Working from home still seems like a dream come through for many people, and they envy those who have that opportunity. It means having no boss, no schedule and of course no dress code as you can do your task in PJs and no one will mind a thing.

From my personal experience, after 3.5 years of working from the comfort of my home, I can say that I have a good comparison to the standard office environment.

I have had many jobs before, and in different places and even though working from home does have a lot of upside and positives, like, with everything else, it has its downsides too.

Here is a list of good and less ideal things that I found after a few years of having the office less than three steps away from my bed.

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PROS

No schedule

Matthew Walker is a scientist and professor who researches sleep, and in his book Why We Sleep, he demonstrates that we are not all wired in the same way. Naturally, some people prefer to work in the mornings, but there are also those who need a later start. Unfortunately, most companies (and services) favour a morning 9-5 routine, which for many people means a grumpy way to start a day. The obvious positive of working from home is that you can set a schedule that works for you. You can set the hours that you prefer and take as many breaks as you want.

No dress code

Not everyone likes to dress up every day, put on makeup and iron a fresh shirt. No dress code is even better than a casual one, because you can work in your PJs or your robe or wear nothing at all! No one will look at you or comment behind your back.

Services and appointment

Most people work 9-5, which means that necessary services like health appointments are either busy, closed or available for you on weekends. Same goes for gyms, restaurants and cinemas. Having your schedule means that you can book these appointments during day hours when there is little queuing. Gyms and cinemas are empty, and restaurants offer more deals as they want customers during quiet periods. It is honestly one of the best things that you gain when working from home.

 

No unnecessary meetings

Anyone who ever worked in the office understands the pain of pointless meetings, and the time wasted on gossiping near the coffee machine and just general unproductive activities that happen during office hours.

When working from home, there is none of that. When you had enough, you can stop and do what you want to do – go shopping, read a book or watch a movie. There is no need to sit idly in front of the screen staring at the clock.

No pressure

Of course, there is always a bit of pressure when working with clients however when a deadline approaches and you work alongside other people the stress feeds on itself and it is very easy to be consumed by the bubble of pressure, stress and anxiety. I find working from home much more relaxed than the office or any other work environment.

When I’m stressed, I know, it is me who spreads the pressure around, and I can’t blame anyone else.

 

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It would be to easy to list all the good things when you can sit at home and do your work. Like most things in life, working from home isn’t for everyone, and it has some consequences. Here are five things that I noted about having an office at your home that you may not enjoy.

CONS

No schedule

I am a believer that routines help to guide our days and to improve skills, develop projects and make us healthier in the long run. However, with no schedule set by managers, this goes out of the window, and it can have a negative effect on your life.

When you have flexibility with your time, there is always an opportunity to move things to another hour, another day. You can sleep how much you want, take naps, favour pleasure over work and get little done.

To combat that I have my schedule that I stick to every day and in some ways, it is more rigid that schedules I had when I worked somewhere else.

No dress code

Sitting in your robe or PJs all day may seem like a good idea; however, it can also lead to stopping in taking care of yourself. Most of us like to look good in the mirror, but when day after day, there is no reason for it, it can develop in a bad habit. It’s all about balance, I tend to work in regular clothes rather than sweatpants, but my partner likes to work in her PJs in the morning. However, we still dress up when we leave the house.

No reason to leave the house

When working from home, and especially when you are busy with work, there may be days that you spend between your four walls. Even if you live in your perfect place, be it a centre of a bustling city or a quiet residential part, you are still confined to your home office.

Add to that no need to dress up every day, leaving the house may become problematic. It’s great that you can be more productive at home, but it is so easy to sit in front of the screen all day and then watch some TV show in the evening when suddenly realising that last time you opened your front door was two days ago.

 

It gets lonely

The unnecessary meetings are annoying, and you may not like the gossiping near the coffee machine, but with time, you start to miss it. You begin to miss the chitchat with your workmates, meeting new people in person and everyday banter. Working at home gets lonely. I am lucky that my partner also works at home, but it means that we get lonely together.

The crucial bit is to go out of your comfort zone, join some activities and clubs in your area and meet people there. It is much more challenging to do when you do your work from home, and it’s harder to make new friends. 

Feedback and ideas

It is much easier to offer feedback when the person is sitting next to you.

Emails get lost, multiple time zones play their role too and, with time, you forget what you wanted to say in the first place.

Another thing is that creativity can also suffer, having multiple people in the office means bouncing ideas off each other, trying new things, listening to different opinions. When you work from home, even with a team of people over the internet, it is much harder to create that environment.

 

After a few years of working from home, I can now see that it is not for everyone. It requires discipline as well as a proper willingness to leave the house. To meet new people, you have to get out of your comfort zone, join local clubs and pick up new activities.

It is something that I didn’t think of at the beginning of my journey, and it is still something that I am working to fix in my own life. Looking at my sister and friends who lead busy lives in the centre of London, they love their office environment – the hustle and bustle of it.

My current work requires a quiet studio, so I’m glad I can do it from home and even that I’m on a different time zone than my teammates because I can do my job without too many disruptions.

However, it does get lonely, and sometimes I wish that I could attend a meeting or two, even if it were just a waste of time.

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Habits and Routines

Habits and Routines

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19 APRIL 2019

written by Mike

HABITS AND ROUTINES

 

I’ve always believed that people are creatures of habits. We do have the power to innovate, improvise and disrupt; however, most of the time we quickly fall into routines, leading some parts of our lives on autopilot.

I don’t view it as a bad thing though. Even looking at my body, most of the functions run on autopilot, and it would be distracting if I had to remember to breathe or digest my meals.

I’m happy to not think about it.

Moving outside of our bodies, daily routines as small as brushing the teeth and eating; going to work and completing monthly goals also happen semi-automatically. We are, just like with breathing, free to stop but we don’t do that, happily following the routines of our days.

I think that having a routine helps to free our minds so we can focus on things that matter, or require more attention. However, what we should think where do our routines lead us. Unfortunately, some habits can quickly develop into toxic routines that not only stop us from growing but do a lot of harm too.

The dangerous aspect is that we don’t realise when we cultivate these habits.

I had my realisation about four years ago. On the surface, I was doing good. I had a good job and a great partner. I’ve attended a gym and made time for evening leisure. However, when you looked behind that veil, the picture wasn’t as pretty.

I suffered from insomnia, sometimes having two or three nights in a row with a very little sleep, I felt tired, weak and slowly started gaining weight.

Even though the symptoms were there, I set them aside, continuing my daily, weekly and monthly routines until I crashed. It all culminated with a period of a few weeks when I became depressed and started questioning my whole life choices. It wasn’t pretty.

However, I also realised that I had to make some significant changes. I wrote down my routines, my habits, my daily actions and had an honest look at how I lead my life.

I figured that my state was the reaction to my choices and it was clear that I made some wrong ones along the way.

 

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From the list, I could see, straight away, some habits that in my opinion were doing more harm than good.

I was attending the gym, but there was no schedule, and I skipped more sessions that I went to. 

I consumed way too much coffee, and my diet needed to shake up also.

I didn’t smoke much, but two, three cigarettes per day were a norm.

I had a glass or two of wine almost every night, and I used recreational drugs for relaxation.

I used to be an avid reader, but I stopped reading books and turned into watching TV or playing games instead.

These were just some of the things that I wrote down. I needed to be as honest as possible because without that I knew that it would be challenging to turn my routines around.

Next was a plan for drastic measures. The way I laid the things out was if I take a 180-degree turn on my habits, I should feel the opposite – happy and energised.

I wrote the initial plan and got to work.

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Another thing to understand is that habits work on the same rule as compounding interest – they take a bit of time to start producing results. And this is something that throws a lot of people off.

We start dieting; we start exercising, we pick up a new skill and then after a couple of weeks, even months – there’s nothing. We feel the same or worse, and it looks like the effort was in vain.

What I’ve learned is that we need to zoom out and look at these things in macro rather than micro scale. There is no such thing as shortcuts and planning for a more prolonged investment takes that pressure off. So when you pick up a new skill that you practice three days a week, think about when you will be in 6 months, a year even rather than a month or two, and then get excited about what’s going to happen.

Also, take into consideration that more than often other people will see the results first. The best example is with going to the gym. Because you see yourself in the mirror every day, you won’t necessarily see the significant results. However, when you see some of your mates after a few months, they will certainly notice the changes! And hopefully, let you know how good you are doing.

On the other side, it’s not enough to plan for that year-long result. I’m also a proponent of tracking the everyday results, to write down your schedule and have a bit of accountability.

You start exercising – write down your daily progress.

You start dieting – plan your meals.

You pick up a guitar – schedule the daily exercises.

Habits can be about anything, and as long as they help you grow, keep you healthy and energised, they will make your life better. And inadvertently will positively affect everyone around you, without even knowing.

Yes, it takes time to form new habits, and routines so don’t give up until it feels what you are doing is natural and part of you.

I’m not saying that it is easy though, it is straightforward to destroy good habits with a few bad ones, and it happens quicker than forming new ones.

It may be challenging to start, and I would recommend a book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit which will help you to understand the trigger and award of your actions. And what to do to change them.

If you struggle to see your bad habits, ask your closest ones and let them be as honest as possible. Nobody is perfect, but at least you will know your starting point.

So what happened to me?

It took a long time, there were some drastic changes, ups and downs on the way but after four years I can say that at least I feel, like a different person. I look at my old habits and think, why didn’t I challenge myself earlier, why did I think it was good for me?

But, that’s the trick, when you are in the middle of something it is difficult to have that objective opinion on the matter.

Sometimes we need a little push.

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Two Cents on Teamwork

Two Cents on Teamwork

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16 DECEMBER 2018

written by Mike

Two Cents on Teamwork

 

Everything is all about teamwork these days. Synergy, team get-togethers, motivational speeches and management courses are all about running a proficient and a happy team. A quick detour to LinkedIn is an excellent example of then, every hiring agency writes about the importance of the team and team culture.

I’m also guilty of that, in the past I wrote about how much better it is to work in the team versus being a solopreneur. How it helps to come up with better ideas and achieve the goals much faster. However, I’ve also learned, through a hard way, that being part of the team – as a member or supervisor – is a tough task.

It often goes like this – at the beginning of a new team in a startup or freshly created environment (or just a new team of people in an established company) it’s always about the direction and management.

It’s difficult enough to have strangers spend so much time together, and it’s especially tough to get them working towards the same goals. The first step is to get everyone aligned and pumped up. Get them excited to go to work every day.

But, let’s say that everyone is motivated. Excited about the project, the opportunity, money, status and what have you. They understand their place in the machine, and they start working hard. Weeks and months pass by, team members help each other out, the workload gets big but everyone is on board, the success seems to be just around the corner.

Then it happens. The business starts running well, and the project gets recognition. Customers, users and fans love the product, the company and the team. The hard work paid off, and the show starts running like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is still working hard, but there is no need for constant meetings, get-togethers or even helping each other out as much. It’s because everyone knows what they are doing, and they are doing it well.

After these few paragraphs you may think to yourself – so what? If everything is going so well, what seems to be a problem?

I had a bit of luck to be in this particular position a few times. When everything worked great, the consensus was that because people know what they are doing, management can take a step back. That’s right, there is no need for holding hands anymore, but without a proper feedback platform it is quite easy to start taking things for granted.

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When everything is going great, the business is thriving, sales are coming through the door, you get new likes, viewers and positive comments it is tempting to think that you figured it out. Finally, after all this time, you found the magic formula and repeating it will bring more success.

There is no need to overcomplicate anymore.

In my short experience, these are the times that you have to be even more aware than before – to plan for the unexpected, to tackle small issues, to communicate even more.

Unattended issues tend to appear when we least expect them when we think that everything is and will always go our way. Maintaining relationships is as important as starting them, it doesn’t matter if it’s at home or in your business.

If you are in a position of any power, make yourself available, encourage conversations and transparency. Make sure that everyone is aware of the feedback platform and safe space where they can speak their minds.

What I found is that it is easy to forget that. To think that everybody around you knows they are appreciated and valued, that the work speaks for itself.

It’s not as easy. There are as many approaches to management and teamwork as many people in the world and most of us need some validation, praise and feeling of significance. To know that others value what we do and appreciate it.

It can be as easy as setting up a weekly team meeting when you catch up on everything and anything that happened: not just work but any issues, as casual or as serious as they can be. Making sure that everyone has a chance to speak and is free to discuss anything.

Emails that merely say you appreciate your team’s hard work are essential too, making sure that the work makes the difference and without their input, the project wouldn’t be as successful.

The big issue is also that you have to back up your words and make sure you mean it. Only recently I had a chat with someone close to me who complained about their boss.

On the surface, they were asked for an opinion, input and comments and were praised for it. However only few days later it turned out that everything they said was disregarded and the management has gone with their own decision.

That’s fine too; however, it wasn’t explained why that happened, and for the rest of the week, the boss strategically avoided meeting with the said persons.

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It’s all about feeling that you mean something, that you are not just a replaceable cog in the machine. You can disagree, and civilised arguments should be welcomed as avoiding the issue almost never ends well.

I worked in environments that both respect and appreciate every input as well as in the top-down hierarchy when the hard work was expected, and only mistakes were pointed out.

I remember one time after working overtime for weeks and overstretching myself and the team to bring the big project to a close it was finally over. We were tired and drained, and when we had our end of the project review, the management picked on a couple of errors that we made utterly omitting all the hard work that went into finishing the project.

I don’t need constant praise and pats on my back, but even though this happened years ago, I still vividly remember that moment. My disappointment and feeling worthless stayed with me for months and ultimately led to leaving the team.

Each way of management has pros and cons, but I’m more motivated to press extra hard when I know that my input is appreciated and mistakes are learning opportunities. I would like to believe that most people are like that too.

I’m all for the tough love approach, and I hate tiptoeing around the issues, however transparency, understanding and respect do not exclude any of that.

People are afraid of speaking their mind, and they want to keep their jobs, they don’t want to cause trouble. Making sure that from the get-go they know that they can raise any issue they want will make problem-solving much more comfortable and faster, but without proper communication channels, it won’t work.

We don’t hear it often but success can often be a trigger for a downfall too, and it usually happens where you least expect it.

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Make Money Freelancing Online

Make Money Freelancing Online

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07 AUGUST 2018
written by Mike

MAKE MONEY

FREELANCING ONLINE

 

Making money online is a relatively new thing. People were doing business around the world for hundreds and hundreds of years, but the idea that you can sit in your bedroom with a laptop and run a company is new.

It may seem obvious to you now but a lot of people, even my age, aren’t sure how to start and if they could do it. The beautiful thing is that anyone can. There are no restrictions, no limitation and you will only be judged by the value you bring to the table.

It’s not easy, and things are changing very fast. However, anyone can start now, right this second.

There are many ways of making money online, but today I want to focus on freelancing, selling your skills online. It, of course, applies to lots of professions but I will be using audio production as my example.

 

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Your Online Presence

I know many people want to go against the trend, that’s good, not all directions are positive. However, if you’re going to start doing work online it will be much harder if you don’t have Facebook, Twitter or other social (and not just social) media profiles. You need to be visible.

There are hundreds of thousands of people hustling online, how can you stay a few steps ahead of everyone?

Start creating your online presence today. Don’t think about making money just yet, but start creating content and joining conversations online. It’s challenging to give personalised advice on the topic; it all depends on your strengths and likes.

For example, the big trend right now is video, Instagram rules and blogging is a thing of the past. Think about what you would like to post and create profiles around that, maybe it’s a podcast, not a vlog?

 

Skills and Gear

Next step is writing down your skills and available equipment. Try to niche yourself down; generalists don’t charge near what experts make. For example, with my abilities and system, I could do a lot of things in music and sound production space but my niche at this moment is podcasting and audio storytelling.

The skill needs to be transferable online, if you are a photographer, it will be hard to take photos online, but you could offer product photography services.

Go to top accounts on eBay or Amazon, join some Facebook discussion groups and offer your services. Online selling is all about the perception, and the sellers know about this. Set up a small studio at home, get people to send you the products and charge for photos.

With audio, you could be offering music production, mixing, mastering, editing, scoring, design and other services that I don’t even know.

Also if your skill isn’t transferable, think what can you add to your portfolio, what else can you learn. I was working as a dialogue editor on blockbusting movies; it’s safe to say to they wouldn’t allow me to edit their content in my bedroom. However, podcasting and audiobooks are more comfortable, not as much pressure. I just had to learn the new medium and adjust my skills.

The gear also matters, with an old computer you won’t be able to do much, especially in audio. Think about where you can upgrade and what can you do with what you have. For some time I was working solely on trial and demo versions until I could afford a full license on top of the shelf software.

 

Platforms for freelancers

There are many places online where you can find work. Not all of them are great, and most are so-called ‘race to the bottom’ on price. However, it’s a good enough start to learn how the whole online world works.

Platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, People Per Hour allow you to create a profile and bid for jobs, usually very low paid.

Apart from that, write to people on LinkedIn, studios and production houses. Be upfront and say that you are looking for freelance work, they may write back to you, when they are under a deadline.

Facebook groups, Reddit and forums are other places to look for work. If you are hunting for freelance jobs you can also check out listings from Jooble.

It is the hard part as it can take weeks before you start moving, however, don’t be discouraged and keep the ball rolling. One client leads to another and another and another, and you never know who will you meet online.

That’s how I started on Casefile.

 

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Areas to consider for audio professionals

Editing

Look at podcasts and audiobooks. Right now it’s the best time to get in the game as a lot of people are either starting their podcasts or doing audiobook narrations. Of course, not all of them will pay well but if you are starting out, contact smaller profiles. It will give you time to learn, hone your skills and make some side cash.

Let’s say you want to charge £50 per podcast (I know it’s not a lot, but you have to start somewhere) and do ten shows per week. That’s £500 per week, £2000 per month working from home. Then when you are good enough, leave the smaller pods for someone else and move up the ladder.

If you know how to produce music, offer that. Again podcasts are a great area to explore as most podcasters don’t know much about sound production and they will need your help. Writing intros, theme music or even bespoke score for storytelling shows could be a great way to make extra money and practice your skills.

 

Audio Restoration 

Audio restoration is another niche area to keep an eye on. A lot of content creators dismiss the art of recording sound and leave it until the end. Then they often realise that their recording is not as good as it should be and it doesn’t only apply to podcasters. Youtube creators, narrators, online teachers – find people who are making money online, and if you think that you could help them, offer your services.

Audio restoration requires specialised software and skills but if I can learn it, then anyone can.

 

Online Courses

Online courses are booming right now. There are plenty of platforms such as Coursera or Udemy, and of course, people selling their course on Teachable. The video is one thing, but again, most creators dismiss the importance of audio. Search for courses and creators who achieved some success and offer them your help. By making their work sound better, hopefully, they can find more students and develop their practice, and usually, with online courses, there is a lot of material to go through.

 

Acquire extra skills

The secret to being successful online is to have multiple streams of income or to be top of the world expert in one thing. So unless you are bullish on one thing only, start thinking what extra skills you can acquire that make sense for you and your business.

When I started online work a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do, but I needed cash right away. Audio work is niche and harder to find than video production, as everyone is jumping on the medium. I started offering video editing and production services, first video for free as a ‘test’.

I have no professional backing, and I’ve never done paid video editing work before. I started learning Premiere, and After Effects and for the first few months when I worked on my online presence, 80% of my income was from video editing. It may sound weird given the fact that I’m an audio professional, but it’s true.

Also, but knowing both sound and audio, I could offer more value than other people, and suddenly I had twice as many options as others.

Many creators who needed video editing asked me to clean up the sound too, so I had plenty to do. It was crucial to develop that skill and have that income, because the first year or so when we were working and creating Casefile we had no money.

Think what else you want to do, how can you do it online and start hustling!

 

Learn, read, train, practice and apply!

A beginning is often hard, but we can’t stop progress, even if you are not keen on the state of technology, social media and the online world right now – get used to it and embrace it.

The future will be digital so start making the transition right now, and you never know who you will meet out there. Every now and again, one of the ‘another jobs’ can turn into a long-term relationship, and an awesome project like Casefile did for me.

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Managers and Leaders

Managers and Leaders

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24 APRIL 2018

written by Mike

MANAGERS AND LEADERS

Depending on the size of the team, sooner or later, there will be someone who starts managing and leading the way. In small organisations it may be just one person doing it all, in big corporations, there are usually layers of administration. In my opinion, there are differences between managers and leaders, the way they operate.

Since immigrating to the United Kingdom over 11 years ago, I held over a dozen jobs. I carried plates, I moved speakers, I worked on movies and in a pretzel place. Each environment was unique, and each had a slightly different structure.

Since the first job I’ve always analysed and watched how the places were run by the owners, the managers, the teams. It doesn’t matter if the business was operating millions or thousands, it was always down to people. I’ve learned how difficult it is to manage a workplace successfully, and I’ve learned it from the best and the worst too.

First, let’s dissect the difference between a manager and a leader.

In my opinion, a leader is a person with a vision, with a big picture goal. He/she leads everyone there, makes sure that the goal is clear. A leader motivates, inspires and uplifts. He/she is the first one to make the step, first one to experiment, first one to take the blame. Leaders are rare, especially natural ones.

Can leadership be taught?

I think so. Not to everyone, but I saw many people step up to the opportunity and become good leaders. I also knew some who weren’t fit for the role and got overwhelmed by it.

What about managers?

Managers manage everyday situations, the work, the grind. Managers need to focus on running the place on a daily basis, the big picture goal is fine, but it’s the work and consistency that will get you there. That’s why managers are essential to keep the teams going. To organise, systematise and adjust when needed.

Management can also be taught, in my opinion, is much easier to manage than to lead, because more than often managers are following the established rules. However, it’s also not a position for everyone, especially for someone who abuses power for their own benefit.

Of course, one person can be both, especially when you are starting something new, a startup, a freelancing business, a small agency. When it’s down to three people, there will be shared responsibility but more than likely, one will take a role of leader/manager until the idea gets off the ground.

Through the years I observed many managers and leaders, and I always tried to learn from each person.

Everyone is different, every situation will have different consequences. However, I noticed that few main traits define good and bad leaders, more and less capable managers.

 

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Let’s start with the good ones. All of them apply to people who are in the position of power. It can be a founder but also a supervisor. It doesn’t matter what leadership position you have, you can still make sure you do it best.

Long-Term Thinking

Visionaries tend to think long term. Day to day grind can put you down, and everyone has doubts, but true leaders know that the pain is crucial to complete the journey. It’s not about gambling and making a quick buck, it’s about investing and building robust structures that can last for a long time.

Listening

Good managers know how to listen and understand the feedback. They take the suggestions on board, reflect on them and acknowledge the initiative. It doesn’t mean agreeing to everything, but everyone wants to be heard, to feel significant. Capable managers know how to create such environment.

Approach

When you start to manage people, you begin to realise that not everyone thinks in the same way and not everyone thinks like you. It’s hard to overcome that but understanding that people are wired differently is an essential trait for aspiring leaders. To align a big team towards one goal, you need to understand that one size does not fit all.

Feedback Platform

Everyone knows that feedback is essential. However, most places I worked in have not had established that. Even though people complained in the corridors, most would sit silently during the meeting. It’s not that they were scared, they just didn’t bother to raise any issues, thinking that it won’t change anything.

A good manager knows that to get people talking, a transparent place needs to be created where feedback is heard, acknowledged and correct steps implemented.

Fun Environment

Most work is stressful however a manager who understands that right culture can make the most boring task fun, will take steps to create such environment.

I’ve worked in places where management changed and only by changing the person in charge the whole atmosphere shifted. It is an eye-opening observation when you notice that the same place, the same work that 6 months ago made you happy, now makes your dread each morning.

 

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Planning

A manager and a leader will always have a plan. A detailed one for day to day tasks and a big picture plan. They will also plan for the unexpected and know when and how to adjust.

A good manager will bring the change to the forum and won’t be afraid to create a new strategy. Plan with an understanding that it can all change in an instant.

Humility

A leader will take blame and responsibility, a manager will listen to feedback and learn from it. We are all human, and we make mistakes, but too many times I’ve seen issues swept under the rug, and problems left to themselves.

It never ends well, an open and transparent conversation is way more helpful even though it’s painful, but a right person in charge is not afraid of that.

Can Do Everything

It’s not about knowing it all. Thoughtful leaders and managers know that they need to hire people smarter than them to do the great work, but they also should have an understanding of all elements of the business.

To be able to listen to people, to understand their issues and aspirations, the leader should know what they are going through and how important the task is for them. The job that may not seem important to you, someone else can be passionate about it. It’s not about doing it better than another person, but understanding how are they doing it so you can establish a connection.

Walk The Talk And Care

Great leaders and managers care. Care about the people, the business, the work and they show it. It’s so easy to write company principles, the mission, the goals. However if people in charge don’t follow them, the rest of the team will quickly disregard them too. When it comes to inspiration and motivation, it should be from top to bottom. You don’t want to lead people by force, but by example.

 

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I know that this is not a definite list of good traits, but if you want to be a manager or a leader, it’s a good starting point. I know that the best people that I worked with had all of that checked. Everyone is human and makes mistakes but owning the faults and learning from them is not something that everyone does.

But what are the bad traits of managers and leaders?

There indeed are few and unfortunately, these are more common than good ones. More than often I met people in charge who were not fit to lead or manage. These are things that I learned from them:

Micro Management

One of the worst things you can do as a manager is to control every aspect of the job. Yes, checks are important, same as deadlines, but managing every aspect of the task is always counterproductive. For most people, especially those who have experience and expertise in the field, it’s best to leave them alone to do the job.

Why does it matter if someone takes longer breaks if the results are the same or better than others? Let people be creative and only manage if there is a need for it.

Emotional Panic

In every job, there are stressful moments. It doesn’t matter if I was making pretzels or working on a big blockbusting movie worth millions. During these moments emotions tend to take over, and panic creeps in.

Best managers are anchors and can keep the balance, bad managers make things worse. If you see your leader falling apart, it’s hard to persist and push through. Leading by example means that if the example is wrong, people will still follow the lead.

Passing The Blame

Some managers can’t handle the responsibility, they tend to look for an easy way to escape tight situations. It’s always somebody else’s fault. It may be, but the right manager will handle the situation nevertheless. Pick up the slack if they need to and deal with it swiftly.

It’s not about sweeping things under the rug, mistakes should be seen as learning opportunities rather than a chance to stir conflict in the team.

 

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Keeping The Word

As you may have guessed, it’s the opposite. I’ve attended so many meeting where the manager had the list of changes to do, everyone had their say, the team was excited. Then a week passes, and another and another and everything goes back to normal. Usual habits, same routines.

It’s so easy to make promises but implementing them seems to be only reserved for the best leaders, everyone else is afraid of the pain that comes with the necessary change.

Pettiness

Some managers tend to abuse their power. I saw time and time again where the person in charge would be unnecessarily sarcastic and belittle their own staff. Being friends with only a handful people from the team, making jokes on the expense of others.

Things like that can ruin the whole working environment. I’ve quit jobs because I saw that some were treated better by managers, just because they were friends outside the workplace. The place for the manager should be clear of bias, everyone should be able to state their case, and only the best should rise to the top.

Indecisiveness

When met with a tough situation, you need a quick decision. It may not be the best one but it needs to be fast, inaction often leads to bigger problems. Bad managers can’t handle that, they change their minds too often, they are scared to take the responsibility of making a tough choice.

More than likely if you are in a similar situation you won’t have all the facts and information you want and need. Sometimes you have to do with what you know, but someone has to do it.

Being a person in charge means that you should be the one that makes the final call.

 

So that’s it.

It’s not to say that there isn’t more traits and lessons I’ve learned.

Most of the work is based on human relationships, great leaders understand that it’s a team that can achieve the big goals. Being single-minded does not help, trying to convince that you are always right won’t get you far.

Listening, empathy, learning from mistakes – it seems so simple when you think about it. However, it’s so rare to find these traits in people in charge.

If you don’t know anyone who is like that, maybe it’s time to lead by example.

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