The assumption of the corporate ladder is that once you’ve figured out how to do a certain role yourself, you’ll be able to manage others when you get promoted. But managing people is a very unique skill set, and many people find themselves ill-equipped to manage a team when they first get that opportunity. Some people figure it out -- but a lot don’t -- hence the fairly common complaint about incompetent bosses and supervisors.
There are many different management styles, each with their pros and cons. And while it’s unlikely that you’ll be a super effective manager just from reading this newsletter, here are five things to keep in mind as you develop your managerial skills:
1. You have to do your job. Unless your job is 100% team oversight, don’t think you can let your primary responsibilities lapse because you now have a team eager to prove themselves. Delegating tasks is all well and good, but you still need to do your own job. It can be really tempting to pass along the tasks that bore you to someone below you who can’t seem to say no, but don’t take advantage of your power. You can encourage your direct reports to grow by allowing them to take on more senior responsibilities, but if something is above their pay grade -- i.e. at your pay grade -- don’t force them to do it unless you’re prepared to pay them for it! And make sure you’re still carrying your weight. Just because your development coordinator is great at giving notes on sizzle reels doesn't mean they should manage the whole slate -- you should still handle a few projects exclusively.
2. You don’t have to do your direct reports' jobs. We’ve all had micromanaging bosses. The kind of person who proofreads every email you send, who complains if your organization system differs slightly from theirs, who, when you ask, “How do you want me to structure this presentation?” responds with “Run with it! Let’s see what you come up with!” and then hands you a laundry list of very specific, taste-oriented notes. Don’t be that person! Give your employees clear instructions, answer their questions, and if the work is satisfactory but not exactly how you’d do it, let it go. If you let your team do their jobs, you’ll have more time to do yours -- and more time to lean into innovation and growth for yourself and your company.
3. Give constructive feedback. A major part of your job is helping your team get better at what they do and encouraging their own professional development, so you’ll need to give them feedback when they make mistakes or could use improvement. But not all feedback is created equal! One of the best ways to give constructive feedback is a compliment sandwich (a genuine one, or it backfires). Start by acknowledging something good about their work, whether it’s about the work itself (“I think this is a great first start to the sizzle. I like the pacing and tone!”) or about their approach (“I really appreciate you spending so much effort on this cut.”). Then, offer feedback. You may think “I statements” belong here so as to be non-confrontational, but they can actually come off as micromanage-y and evoke the response of, “So why didn’t you just do it yourself then?!” Instead, be direct. Something like, “It’s really important that this sizzle showcases all eight of the characters equally, and it looks like Jane Doe is getting less screen time, while John Doe is dominating the cut.” Or “We need to make sure we hit our deadline for the network. I’ll need to see a rough cut by the end of the day in order to have time to give my notes.” Then, end on something positive -- you can reiterate the previous compliment, add a new one, or offer an encouraging piece of advice. And always say thank you! For example, “As you think about cutting down John’s screen time, make sure you keep the moment that's 30 seconds in -- it’s gold, and I can tell you have a good eye for buttons. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to seeing the next round. Thank you!” or “It’s awesome that you want to get it done perfectly the first time, but no first cut is perfect. I’m impressed with what you’ve come up with, even if it's rough around the edges! Thank you!"
4. Manage the difficult situations. This is where the truly good managers separate themselves from the rest of the pack. As a manager, the most important part of your job is to step in when there’s a difficult situation that your employees can’t handle on their own. This could be a toxic person on the team who needs to experience consequences for their behavior or managing a client who is taking advantage of your employee. If your team is starting to complain about clients, workload, or expectations, it’s up to you to figure out what’s bothering them. Are you advocating for them to get raises now that your business has grown, and their jobs along with it? Are you standing up for them when someone in another department asks them for a “quick favor” that’s beyond their scope of work? Typically, your employees won’t speak up until things get really bad, and by that time, you’ll be seen as part of the problem. On the other hand, if you can anticipate your team’s needs and show them you have their backs, they’ll be happier -- and a happy employee is a productive employee!
5. Remember that your employees are human. You may find it frustrating that Sally needs a day off for food poisoning the same month she's scheduled for a week-long vacation. It might irk you that Mitch's kids keep interrupting him with virtual school questions. But as long as your team isn’t violating your company’s policies in a major way and they get their work done, let them live their lives. A lot of managers give themselves leeway once they reach a position of power and then get angry when their employees have needs outside of work. Some managers are the opposite -- they’re workaholics who expect everyone to put career first. But consider that most people work to live, and if they don’t have a good work/life balance, they’ll find a new job. If you have a good team, retain them by respecting them. And to that end -- company fun should happen on company time. If you want to do team building exercises or holiday parties, good on you! But don’t take away people’s weekends or weeknights with mandatory “fun.”
Overall, an effective manager knows how to read people and empathize with them. When in doubt, turn to the work version of the golden rule: Manage others as you would have them manage you.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
At Hollywood Resumes, we obviously value careers -- we know there's a lot of joy and fulfillment in working in a role and industry you love, which is why we love helping our clients prepare the materials they need to secure their dream jobs.
But in times like these, you may need to remind yourself that your career isn't everything.
It's fair to say that most people are facing some work-related challenges right now. To all the essential workers: THANK YOU. We know most of you don't get paid a typical "essential" salary, and we see you, appreciate you, and hope that this cultural shift will lead to greater recognition for the work you're doing. And if your work is considered "non-essential" -- let's dwell on that for a minute. It doesn't mean your work is not important or of no consequence, but the categorization is a good to remember that we work to live, not the other way around. Sometimes, it's okay to put your career on the back burner.
If you find yourself out of a job, you're understandably concerned. After you figure out the fundamentals of how to support yourself and your family, you may start to worry about your long-term career. If fear that your career has been completely derailed starts to creep in, take a deep breath. There's no benefit from worrying about things you can't change. When you're back on the job hunt, hiring managers will understand what happened -- the memory of coronavirus isn't going to fade any time soon. If you need to take a part-time job to pay the bills, don't worry about how it will look on your resume down the road or if it's good for your career -- take the job and pay your bills. If you have other ways to stay solvent, take this time to focus on other areas of life, like connecting with the people you love (from afar), engaging in your hobbies, giving back to your community, and practicing self-care. If having a career plan will help you feel calmer, you can start to research companies and roles that interest you and update your resume, but it's also totally okay if you're not feeling up to it -- the world has, in a sense, pressed pause on "career" right now, so take advantage of the time to focus on other things.
Similarly, if you're working remotely but have very little to do, or are still getting paid but can't actually "work" remotely, don't sweat it. You don't need to invent projects for yourself or find extreme ways to stay on top of your boss's radar. Everyone understands that certain jobs are slower now, and no one is going to blame you for the downturn. It's okay to do household chores, learn a new skill, binge-watch a show, and have marathon Zoom calls with your pals from college. And certainly, if you are sick or caring for someone who's sick, take the time you need to get better or care for them. You don't want to waste precious moments doing busy work. Save your energy for the things that matter most in life: your health and happiness and that of the people you love.
If your work is piling on and you're feeling up to peak performance, by all means go full steam ahead! But remember that just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're suddenly on call 24/7. You should make an effort to keep to your normal hours. And if you're not feeling up to peak performance, that's understandable, too. Take a close look at the work you're doing: Is there anything that's actually not that important? Would you really be doing every single project you're working on right now if you were back in the office? Make sure you're putting your health (physical and mental) first. Take sick day if you need one. If you're caring for a sick relative or have young children at home and you need to take on more errands/housework than usual, tell your boss. Even if if you're just plain overwhelmed by your proximity to the grimness of illness and death, give yourself a break. If you really think your boss would fire for you not being on your A+ game during a pandemic, it's probably time to question whether you still want to work there. Because now more than ever, career isn't everything.
Your career will still be viable when this pandemic ends. Now's the time to lean in to the more essential aspects of life. Put yourself first, and do what it takes to stay healthy and happy!
Have you ever been at networking drinks and felt intimidated when the person you were meeting with started name dropping all the people he’s been working with or all the insider info he had about the industry? You probably felt inadequate and worried that you were way behind everyone else in your career with no hope of ever catching up. Maybe you started to question your decision to work in entertainment. The truth is, we’ve all been there…and it’s not a great feeling. But the even bigger, yet more secret, truth is that the person across the table often feels the exact same way. So before you get totally down on yourself, remember that you’re not alone -- very often, the other person is faking it.
Impostor syndrome is very real, and it can become even more pronounced in Hollywood where you’re contending with tons of big egos. Many people feel the need to brag about themselves, often as a defensive mechanism or because it’s a strategy they think will help them close the deal. And even though their behavior may not make you feel very good about yourself, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Instead, you need to assess your own reaction and whether or not you’re being too hard on yourself.
Think about it -- it’s not possible to watch every show, read every article and book, keep up regular relationships with every person you meet, go on networking drinks every single night, and give your 100% at work. Even if you try, you'll let other areas of your life slip, which is not only unhealthy but also counterproductive to working in an industry where stories about the human experience are at the core of the business! So you do what you can. And so does everyone else. You’ll have your areas of expertise, and others will have their own. Whether you realize it or not, sometimes you might even be the one who sounds intimidating, depending on who you’re meeting with. You are never alone in this feeling of inadequacy. That simple fact should help ease your discomfort.
But let’s take it one step further. Reminding yourself that others are in the same boat might calm your nerves, but when you're feeling down, you should give yourself a confidence boost as well. Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings, remind yourself of what you do know. What are some of your favorite accomplishments? What are you really good at? What subject could you consider yourself an expert in? Write it all down if you need to or tell your story out loud while you're stuck in traffic, and use it to reaffirm your self-worth.
You bring your own unique value to the table -- never forget that. Yes, you’re going to have inevitable moments of self-doubt, often the result of your interactions with others, but to succeed, you’re going to have to get through them. And the only way to do that is to celebrate your achievements and knowledge and give yourself the confidence to continue pushing forward.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Let’s face it: Some days, even if you love your job, you want to do more. You want to live beyond your desk, your inbox, your projects, and your coworkers. This is especially true when you don’t love your job. It can be hard waking up every morning, shuffling to the office, and focusing on a goal you’re just not feeling any more. So what can you do about it? Glad you asked! We’ve found that having an extracurricular activity outside of work not only boosts your mental health, but can help make you more productive at work, yield connections you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and yes, even enhance your resume.
First off, volunteer work or a side hustle can help you develop some great leadership skills that might otherwise be reserved for your superiors at your current job. For example, if you were to join the planning committee for a nonprofit’s annual gala, it would teach you fundraising skills, how to negotiate with vendors, and digital marketing strategies. You never know when those types of skills might come in handy at work, but more importantly, they'll likely expand the types of opportunities you're qualified for when you start exploring other jobs.
Okay, sure, but isn't that also work? What about an extracurricular that's just totally fun, without the stress of volunteering, endless committee meetings, and time commitments? Yup, that's great too -- it’s actually still beneficial for your career if you pursue a hobby. Let's say you enroll in a dance class. In addition to burning off calories and steam, you’ll likely make friends. And maybe your new dance BFF’s roommate works at your dream company and can refer you when there’s an opening! The more you expand your social circle, the more you expand your professional network -- and the best way to get your resume into the right hands is through a contact who really knows you ... AKA a friend.
I get it, but how is this stuff going to boost my actual resume? Well, your extracurriculars are fair game for the experience section of your resume if you're learning transferrable skills, but even those purely fun activities can be useful. We’re big fans of including an interest section on your resume to help prospective employers see you as a person, not just a list of skills. This way, a hiring manager can potentially relate to you -- maybe they dance too, or they volunteer with a similar charitable organization. Or, maybe your hobby is so interesting that they’ll want to bring you in to learn more about it -- like you play Quidditch, collect airline miles, or have run marathons in 12 cities.
Expanding your life beyond your desk is better for you as a person -- which makes it better for your career. The workforce hasn’t been taken over by robots (yet), and hiring managers are looking for happy, well-rounded people. So be happy, and take advantage of the added value your hobbies will contribute to your career!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan