January 31, 2018

6 Things Managers Don’t Get to Do


When I was a young, entry-level worker, I sat in my cubicle, convinced I was the most important person in the company. I worked my tail off for the 500+ person organization. Without me, I figured, the wheels would definitely come off.

And yes, I silently seethed while my manager went out to frequent lunches with her manager, leaving us (talented) peons to handle all the grunt work they simply talked about. I wondered why I couldn’t leave early to nurse my newborn, but the big boss was allowed to take off every Thursday at 2:30 to see his daughter’s softball games.

Where was my expense account, company car, parking space, or flexible schedule? I contributed as much as the managers and executives did (I thought). I even worked longer hours than they did! (Yeah, right.) When would I get my turn to do all the things managers got to do?

Fast forward a decade or so. Now, I find myself in the manager’s shoes. While there are a lot of things managers do get to do, I’ve also realized there’s a whole lot they don’t get to do.

If you, like me when I was young, wonder wether being the big cheese is really as good as it seems, this article is for you. Here is a comprehensive list of things managers don’t get to do. It’s a list I wish I had known a lot sooner:

1. The Boss Doesn’t Get to Pass the Buck

When the report is late, when the advertisement is misspelled, when the press release goes out two minutes too late, the boss doesn’t have anyone to blame. Sure, they may yell at you, but you still get a paycheck. They might lose the client. They have to sit through grueling phone calls and embarrassing meetings because it was their job to ensure that mistake was never made.

And it’s not just that one mistake. It’s every mistake you’ve ever made in your position, times everyone in your department, every day.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

Make sure the work you pass on to others is always your best work. If work consistently leaves your computer or hands before it’s the best it can be, you’re simply not ready to lead.

2. The Boss Doesn’t Get to Be Emotional

I know what you’re saying: Of course the boss gets emotional!

But what you really mean is the boss confronts you. The boss doesn’t get to be upset that she stayed up late painstakingly ordering every sandwich – even the vegan one – and five people still got pissed at the lunch and learn.

WomanWhen you’re not in the managerial chair, all that seems harmless. It’s like making fun of a celebrity on Twitter! Thing is, celebrities can see that, and it hurts their feelings. Even when employees are abusive, ungrateful, vengeful, and disrespectful, the boss still has to keep their cool.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

If you’re not someone who gets involved at work, it might be best to keep it that way. If you have your heart set on managing people someday, try to make every work decision more about the work product than the personal relationship.

3. The Boss Never Gets to Leave

You see them leave early on Fridays … because they need to spend time with their kids before their business trips on Saturdays. They get to go on those fun client lunches, but they come back to the same amount of work and less time to do it. When clients call or catastrophes happen, you’re not the one in the office – they are.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

While salary doesn’t mean 60 hours every week, it does mean having to sometimes tackle issues outside of traditional work hours in order to make sure everything gets done on time and the right way. As long as you don’t make work your only important task, understanding this fact will help ease you into the always-on world of a manager.

4. The Boss Isn’t Allowed to Be Your Friend

While they are encouraged by countless articles to take an interest in your personal life outside of work, managers are prevented from becoming so close that their feedback appears biased. While you and your coworkers can become the best of friends, the boss has to decline those Taco Tuesday invites.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

Create friendships outside of work. Before you become a boss is a great time to build friendships and hobbies outside the office.

5. The Boss Can’t Tell You When You’re Being a Jerk

And sometimes, they really want to.

If the way I used to treat my bosses is any indication, most brand new office workers aren’t really aware of how they treat the workplace. There are a thousand things the boss would like to say about your unwashed coffee mugs and poor time management, but they probably can’t. They might see your Google chat conversations and know exactly how you feel about the company execs. They’ll want to warn you about your actions, but the potential legal issues that doing so would raise are too much to risk.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

If you’re on a leadership path, find opportunities to give both positive and constructive feedback. As you do, make sure you never get too personal. Keep comments restricted to work product and performance, and try to guide your thoughts in a similar direction.

6. The Boss Can’t Skip the Team-Building Exercise

Oh, you hate it? Guess what? The boss is no fan of balancing on logs while their kids are at home struggling through calculus without their help. But the boss does it anyway, without complaining. To be a leader, you have to lead by example.

Want to Be the Boss Some Day? How to Prep:

Just go to the team-building exercise, okay?

All that said, there are absolutely benefits to being the boss. You get to mold young minds, shepherd employees through trying times, and be the boss, of course.

For me, being a manager/leader/boss lady has been far more rewarding than being that seething, spoiled employee. Whether you currently have the title you want or are still striving for it, you will manage someone someday. Get ready!

A version of this article originally appeared on Red Branch Media.

Maren Hogan is founder and CEO of Red Branch Media. You can read more of her work on Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and her blog, Marenated.

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Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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