I had a wisdom tooth removed this week. I know this is something you usually do when much younger, but I never had a need to. Until now. I spent the day of the extraction in a pain-killer induced haze, and was back at work, albeit on a limited basis, the next day. Two days after the surgery, I hit the desk early to continue catching up and get fully back up to speed. In fact, that’s when I’m writing this, less than 48 hours after the surgery.
I bring this up not for sympathy but to make a point. My 21 year old daughter had the same surgery less than two weeks prior to mine. Same oral surgeon, same tooth, same procedure. And she was out of work for six days. She was swollen and could not have solid food for five days after it was done. I had crusty Italian bread with dinner last night.
The lesson here is that people are different, even those in the same family. We reacted completely differently to the same experience. Managers sometimes make the mistake of thinking that all workers can be treated and managed the same. They do the same job, work in the same place, have the same goals. But just like my daughter and me, everyone reacts to a set of circumstances differently.
When given a new task or protocol, some workers will latch onto it immediately and others will be loathe to give up the old way of doing things. Some people are willing to learn by trial and error and others need to read the manual and feel completely comfortable before they try something the first time. People are different.
This is perhaps the greatest challenge of managers: pulling together a disparate group of people and getting them to work cohesively toward a single goal or set of goals. And you don’t get to do it the way you’d like to all the time. You don’t get to manage them the way you’d like to manage, you must manage them the way they need to be managed. And invariably, you are asked to manage different people in different ways at practically the same time. It’s enough to strip your mental transmission. The best way to keep your sanity is to remember, and this is the phrase I used as my mantra when managing, one size does not fit all.