Managers are friends (too)

Friends are naturally supportive of one another. They like to help and be there for their friends and they are interested in a friend’s experiences in life as well as their own. If you have a friend, Johnny, who is trying to start his fitness journey you would likely naturally want to encourage him. You may go farther and do things like send him motivational quotes and expose him to a fitness social group. Everyone wants to help their friends.

If Johnny asks for a favor and you are able to it’s pretty safe to assume you would do it and get satisfaction out of it. If he just needed someone to come work out with him for motivation you might be his workout buddy sometimes.

Sometimes when you help your friends you mentor. Everyone tends to mentor at some point in their lives. You might teach Johnny some of the stuff you learned on your fitness journey. You might show him where to find workout plans or you may show him your fitness routine. Helping someone learn in an area you already know.

Consider the following scenario:

Bill hears Johnny mentioning needing help. Bill has a talk with Johnny and tells him that building a habit is how you get started. He tells Johnny to just pick a time to workout and start protecting that time. It doesn’t matter what he does with that time just make sure he does something fitness related even if it’s stretching or walking. He shows Johnny a fitness social group as a way to make sure Johnny has support and as a result he gets to see when Johnny is working out.

When Bill doesn’t see Johnny working out he reminds him. Whenever Bill sends the reminder, Johnny works out. He notices this trend so he reminds Johnny more often to see if it works. It does work so he talks with Johnny again about building a habit and suggests Johnny schedule his workout on the calendar and treat it like something important. Bill takes note of when Johnny set the workout time and put a reminder on his own calendar to message Johnny and give him encouragement.

Now when Johnny works out he gets encouragement from that social fitness group. Johnny starts feeling accountable and that shows when Bill talks to him to encourage him. Bill comes to believe Johnny has developed the habit and now wants him to see it. Bill wants it to be reinforced so he tells the fitness group that Johnny worked hard to develop an exercise habit and as you’d expect a support group to do they celebrated. Bill told some of Johnny’s other friends what he’d done and asked if they would congratulate Johnny, and as you’d expect friends to do they all gave Johnny congratulations. Bill asked Johnny if he’d like to go to lunch to celebrate and Johnny loved the idea. Bill used his personal knowledge of Johnny to plan this day in a way that he thought would motivate him. During the lunch Bill tells Johnny plainly that he thinks Johnny deserved lunch to celebrate reaching his goal of building a habit. Bill reiterates the steps Johnny took and the hard work. Johnny is proud of his accomplishments and knows what skill he built.

As managers we try to be friends and mentors but our responsibility is to build people. In that scenario Johnny learned the skill of building a habit. He was supported and mentored through the process in ways that worked for him. The process was clearly described and positively reinforced. Next time Johnny wants to build a habit he has a repeatable process he has confidence in and he won’t have to ask for help because he knows how to find support. Johnny doesn’t need Bill for this.

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Steven Griffith

I was a software engineer for right around ten years before transitioning into management. I’m still growing in my new field.