I used to be good at my job. 

As a new manager, have you ever thought that?

You were good.  Good enough to get the promotion to management.   But this step up the ladder wasn’t just about getting through the interview process.   Your head is now spinning with overwhelm, doubt, indecisiveness.  Confidence disappeared out of the mix almost immediately.

Some days you feel like you suck at being a manager.

You look around the office.  All your peers are getting it right so why is it so hard for you?

In this world where we can’t help but compare ourselves to others, it’s hard not to think we’re the only ones that aren’t perfect.

But are they really getting it right?

You might be surprised.

See Sarah over there with the high performing team? The team that gets all the kudos.  Well what you may not have noticed is that Sarah is clocking up 16 hours a day, checking everyone’s work, finishing it to her satisfaction.  She can’t let go and trust her team to do it as well as she can.  It drives them mad.

And Jack.  Jack and his close knit team with their banter and team spirit that you can’t seem to replicate.  What you don’t know is that Jack needs to have a tough conversation with one of them about under performance.  He’s been putting it off for weeks.  He’s worried it will be awkward when they all go out for beers next time.

Don’t forget golden girl Jess.  Your boss’ favourite.  She always gets the best bits of work for her team to work on.  But what you (and he) don’t know is that he’s overwhelming her because she can’t say no.   Her team may get the fun work but they are breaking under the pressure because Jess fails to manage her boss’ expectations. 

The chances are that everyone else isn’t doing any better than you.  We are so used to forming opinions based on one side of the story.  That Facebook post of your friend on a night out looking gorgeous.  She’s so lucky, you think.  But you don’t know about the crippling self-doubt that almost stopped her going out at all.  Or the “so cute!” picture your friend posts of his adorable toddler.  The same toddler he marched out of the supermarket 30 minutes earlier for biting his baby sister.

So yes, today you may think you suck.  But Sarah, Jack and Jess have days like that too.   And this isn’t just a new manager thing.  No good leader will ever tell you they have this all sussed out.  There are always things to learn and ways to improve.

So instead of focusing on how much better you think everyone else is, focus on yourself.   Choose one thing you want to work on.   Just one thing for now and go get some guidance from your manager or someone who does that thing well.  Read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts.  Focus on one thing, try out what you learnt and reflect on how it went.  And then do it better next time.

So dear new manager, don’t compare yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others when you are having a bad day is like listening to endless love songs at the end of a relationship.  It will never make you feel any better so stop it!  Spend that precious energy making steps forward.  Someone wise once said if you are going to compare yourself to anything, compare where you are today to where you were yesterday.

In other words, just concentrate on getting better every day.  And then you will.

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