Blog of Rob Galanakis (@robgalanakis)

Managers learn lessons on the backs of their reports

When you make mistakes as a manager, you usually don’t pay the price. Your reports are always the ones walking away worse off — they have to deal with the repercussions of your mistake, and probably didn’t learn anything useful.

This is an inherent part of hierarchical power dynamics. You can’t wish it away. You can’t smile it away.

This is why being an effective manager requires large amounts of compassion. I don’t think it’s bad to feel genuinely upset about the mistakes you make that lead to folks suffering — they always have it worse. Your compassion should lead you to mitigate the effect of your own mistakes on reports who are always going to be more vulnerable. That may skip level and diagonal 1-on-1s, a generous severance, or tons of other tools.

And you’ll be making a lot of mistakes, because it’s how we learn. So getting good at handling the inevitable problems you are going to cause for employees is a worthwhile skill to cultivate.

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