So You’ve Hit the Big Time: How to Do it with Grace and Style

There’s a reason that managers and supervisors get paid more than their employees: managing people is just plain hard.

It’s even harder to manage folks if you’ve climbed past them on the corporate ladder. Everyone can agree to affably hate the guy who comes in from three states away to oversee the team, but when it’s the person you were eating sushi with just last week on the Friday bento box special…well, that just makes it personal.

Being really good at your job is a great thing. It helps the company to succeed and hides a lot of faults for those on the team who might not be carrying their weight. The reward for all this hard work and competence? A management job. The punishment? Well – the same.

There is no question that becoming a manager is a great event. It gives you a chance to shine – to really show what you can do. It is evidence of the

company’s confidence in your abilities. However, joining the ranks of the top brass can also mean a departure from the work you really love. It also almost always means leaving your friends behind. You may still be close, but the fact is that rarely can you be an effective manager if you remain a great friend. A great friend would put your long-time needs ahead of those of the company. A good manager wouldn’t consider it.

A lot of the old sit-coms from early television hammer home the hierarchy of management, even among friends. Larry Tate thought nothing of interrupting Darrin Stephens after hours, even if Darrin’s wife was having a witch baby or Darrin was turned into a farm animal. Fred and Ethel Mertz were always at the Ricardo’s apartment, requiring drinks and cigarettes. Poor Laura Petrie was constantly required to dance in black Capri pants for the hard-drinking, nicotine-laden writers of The Alan Brady Show.

Remember – all of those manager-types smiled lovingly on their plebes, but they didn’t expect to be treated equally. When their employees performed well for them – or in the case of the Ricardos, paid their rent – the managers treated them as if they were earning their pay. When they didn’t, well – Samantha had to go back in time to find a solution to Darrin’s employment woes and Lucy had to go on the air pawning Vitameatavegamin.

To be a good manager, you have to put your concerns for your popularity aside. Treat your employees like the professionals they should be, even if they used to be your margarita-guzzling buddies. Delegate work to them and don’t micromanage them. If they succeed, reward them. If they fail, don’t. Don’t be mean, and don’t be critical. Speak your piece immediately, succinctly, and give consequences if they don’t improve.

The moral of the story is that in order to be a good manager, you have to expect your employees to have positive results, understand if they don’t (once or twice), and always, always keep checking on them to make sure they do.

There was a reason that Larry Tate kept driving all the way from Manhattan to New Rochelle. Dave Saunders helps people stand out and "Be the Brand" as a personal branding and marketing specialist. Manage your career online: Create, Enhance and Share a better resume, free at

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