Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Being a Manager (Joanna)

As the Manager of my building's Engage Life Department, I must have staff meetings as well as training sessions for staff. My two most recent training sessions for staff included "Back Safety" & "Activities for Residents with Alzheimer's and Dementia" Doing these staff training sessions requires some research, planning, creativity, as well as being comfortable getting up in front of a large group of staff. (No public speaking phobias!) My goal is to always make the training somewhat fun, or at least interesting, after all, I want our staff to get something out of my training sessions!

A challenge I have to deal with on a daily basis is that I'm a young manager. I was promoted to my current manager position at the age of 23. Now I'm 25, no longer rent an apartment (have a house!), currently engaged (wedding this September!), and have four cats (yes...four!!). So, many things have changed for me since I was 23 years old, especially when it comes down to different types of responsibilities. One female resident (in her 90's)always laughs and tells me I look like I'm 12 years old! (Although once in a while there are some days she'll tell me I look like I'm a 14 or 16 year old!) I brought in pictures of when I was 12, 14, and 16 years old so she could see the difference between then and now, but this didn't change her mind of course! Now, it's just an inside joke between her and I. My assistants & I joke around about our ages as well, since my 70 something year old assistant could be my "grandmother", my 50 something year old assistant could be my "mother", which then makes me the "daughter/granddaughter" of the two. All three of us believe that the three different generations truly make us a unique and dynamic Engage Life trio.

Another thing that goes along with being a young yet new manager is constantly learning, and practicing my manager style. I do not like to micro-manage my staff. Instead, I prefer to give my staff space and freedom, while having an understanding that they will give their very best within the rules and expectations of the company. Sometimes I'll give my assistants a to-do list. I like to see and treat my staff as equals, the only difference being that I carry the responsibility for my department. We all share an office, and share doing the activities and other related jobs each day. I make sure that my assistants are aware that I can do and will do everything that they do whether that be moving furniture, driving the 14-seat van, calling Bingo, leading exercise classes, wiping tables down, decorating on theme days, taking pictures, doing trivia, etc. Half the time, my assistants and I ask each other, "which activity would you like to do today at 2:00pm? Bingo or drive residents to the boardwalk downtown to go walking? And then of course we both say, "I don't care, you pick" and this goes on back and forth until we reach a decision. I personally like to give my assistants the option to pick (unless there's a good reason why I must do a particular activity due to any other meetings, conference calls, etc. on my manager schedule for the day that I may need to be at). I do not like being a "bossy" boss. I am also always listening to my staff--I love to hear their ideas, input, and advice. They are a great source of support and creativity.

I can say that it is definitely easier being a manager now compared to when I just started as one two years ago, but this is most likely just due to practice and learning from my experiences. I must not forget to add that I have learned a lot from the other "seasoned" managers at my work. Some of these managers, including my Executive Director, have been working at my building for 10 or more years!

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