Managing Your Way Out Of The Wet Paper Bag

Dave Gray of Communication Nation has some excellent advise for transitioning from a worker who does to a worker who directs. In advertising, going from senior art director or senior copywriter to creative director is one such switch.

Do any of these things sound familiar?
1) You do work that your employees should be doing because “It’s easier to do it myself than hand it off”?
2) You work long hours, getting in early and staying late
3) Your team lacks morale, or seems stressed out most of the time, or both!
You may be suffering from the craftsman-to-manager paradox. Here’s how it works:
If you are a craftsman, you were probably promoted because you are highly productive. Most likely you are productive for a few reasons:
You manage your time effectively
You require minimal supervision
You are reliable
You take pride in a job well done
Here’s the paradox: You meet the above criteria because you are a self-reliant perfectionist: your philosophy might be summarized as “Do it right the first time” and “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”
As you move into management, the very things that made you effective as a craftsman are now deadly threats to your success as a manager. Your independence and self-reliance, which was an asset, is now a liability.
As a manager you need to change your focus, from being productive to making other people productive, which requires a wholly new set of skills.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.