Personal experience. How to Become a Good Manager: Mistakes, Advice, and Examples from Life

Now many people will think that I consider myself a good manager, but in fact I am not: I am learning a lot and I am happy about it, the main thing for me is to become better today than I was yesterday.

I started my journey in Digital in 2015. When I joined the company, I did not know what SEO, PPC, Internet marketing and other clever words were. Before that I had only played soccer and wanted to be a professional soccer player, but eventually I graduated from university and realized that I needed to change something.

On August 31, 2015, on the recommendation of my friend and classmate Vyacheslav Kutovoy, I came to a modest office for an interview with director Vitaly Kravchenko. At that time it could not even be called an interview: we just talked, realized that I was ready to learn, and most importantly – then there was an opportunity to give it to me. So I started my journey as a Trainee SEO specialist with a salary of $ 150.


How did things change?

Why did it turn out that way?

How do you become a good executive?

Conquer your fears.

Step out of your comfort zone

Take responsibility

Pay attention to time management

Don’t judge everyone by yourself

Do not do the work for your employees

Control your emotions and don’t be moody

Communicate with your employees


How did things change?

2015: Junior SEO specialist.

2016: Middle SEO specialist.

2017: Head of SEO.

2019: Chief Operating Officer.

Why did it turn out that way?

And actually thanks to Vitaly Kravchenko and Dmitry Shakhov for a certain degree of trust and the advance they gave me at the time. Now I remember how many situations and tasks were solved and how many paths were taken, but the most important thing was that I constantly found myself in new situations, often doing something new, something I had never done before, and I could not refuse.

There was only one thing to do: move forward no matter what.

How do you become a good leader?

You can’t be good. I believe that there are no good or bad managers, there are effective/ineffective ones. Basically, an executive is a manager whose job is to set up the processes of production, as well as the ability to find approaches to his team and communication with other managers. All of this has a direct impact on effectiveness, which consists of qualitative and quantitative metrics of a department or company.

Are managers born or made? This is a question to which there is no single answer. My opinion: they become. If I had been told 5 years ago that I would be an executive, I would not have believed it. I was terribly afraid of any public speeches and activities, without which a manager cannot do anything. Back in my school years I was afraid to go to the blackboard and tell a verse in front of the class, was embarrassed to raise my hand and answer a teacher’s question in front of the entire audience. Now I do not have these fears, and we move on to the first point.

Conquer your fears

First of all, it is necessary to understand ourselves well: what we are really afraid of, what prevents us from taking this or that step. But the most important thing is NOT to put it off, but to do it right away. I realized that I was afraid to speak in front of an audience, so I turned to Vitaly Kravchenko for help with conferences, webinars, etc. Yes, these were not the best speeches, and there is a lot to work on, but I did not z***, went out and told. It doesn’t matter how – that moment happened.

Another example from the life of the agency is when the manager is afraid to offend their employees, covers them in front of the director, somewhere to finish the work. As a result, the employees sit on their heads and continue to screw up. There’s one rule to remember here:

When you step on the “MANAGER” step, you automatically become a “PI*****OM” to someone.

So you don’t have to be afraid to offend. No, it doesn’t mean you have to go spouting foul language, but the employee has to feel and take responsibility for their actions. My opinion: if an employee does wrong, you need to calmly explain to him or her how it should be done. If it is repeated again, then penalties should probably be imposed, the third time is dismissal.

Get out of your comfort zone

Looking back, I myself realize that I lost a fair amount of time to routine work while in my comfort zone. I won’t hide it, there was a period of time when I was working as the head of the SEO department, when I just “fell out” for a while. My working days went like this: I came to work, my employees were working, everything was fine, the clients were paying for the projects, everything was fine, the estimates were done, I gave everything to the managers, I went home, and that was it.

The worst part is when you think that EVERYTHING is OK. Then comes a moment of stagnation, then a fall, and you no longer have time to get back up because you’ve been in your comfort zone all along and weren’t prepared for it.

Now I’m constantly trying to do new things. If I fall out somewhere, I honestly ask Vitaly to kick me and sometimes say, “You’re doing b**t. This is the only way to progress and not to stop in one place. Yes, not all actions are effective, but it’s better to do something and not get the desired result than to just sit idly by, so you’re sure to achieve nothing.

Take responsibility

This point intersects with point 1: some managers are afraid to make decisions because they do not know whether it will be the right one, they are constantly doubting, delaying, and in the end it all ends there. Every decision they make is an experience that then helps them to do the right thing. Situations repeat themselves, and in the future you already know how to act, so it is better to do and crap**** than not to do and continue to sit.

Another great example goes to this point:

The sales manager, let’s call him Petya, was constantly swimming in agency services, especially on SEO. When the clients at the stage of presentation of the CP began to ask him about the tasks, he said everything he knew, the result was, to put it mildly, not very good. As a result, the manager was fired by the head of the department.

Was the manager fair? Yes and no.

The manager is responsible for the actions of his team!

If you hire a beginner with no knowledge, and he goes through an internship, then you are responsible for him, you hired him. And if he does not know all the services to the end, then give him the opportunity to learn, write scripts, implement training interactions with other managers. If you were expecting a different result from the specialist, then you sucked at his training or simply made a mistake in hiring him. But in any case, the responsibility is on you 🙂 .

Now the next example.

Question to the manager: “Valery, is the semantics ready for this project?”

Answer of the manager: “Vitaly Vladimirovich, I gave the task to a specialist back on Monday.”

Nobody really cares when you gave the task, the result is important, it is a binary value: semantics is either ready or not. Take responsibility, yes, then give p**** to the employee if he didn’t meet the deadline. But it’s only YOU as the manager who is responsible to the director.

Pay attention to time management

I am often surprised by supervisors who constantly say, “I don’t have time, I have a lot of work to do.” I agree, there are times when you crap out and realize you don’t have enough time, but these are periods, not an ongoing process. If you’re perpetually out of time, then put everything aside, go to the mirror and ask yourself: “Am I fucking doing shit?” You might find answers right away: you can delegate some tasks, you can automate some, and you can simply throw the rest away. If you have a constant lack of time, you are not able to get out of the projects, you cannot develop the department and your team. This has to be understood and accepted.

Yes, there is a nuance. If you’re constantly working and it’s getting results, then the next question is, “How long are you going to last?”

Don’t judge everyone by yourself

An example from life: “Yes I would have this semantics collected in 4 hours, there is nothing to do, everything is simple. Yes, it is simple, but only for you, because you have more experience and knowledge, the linear specialist is a little more difficult.

One of my mistakes in the past was not giving enough time to the employees. After all, an important quality of an effective manager is the ability to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on the team, and then pay attention to them, improve the strengths and tighten up the weaknesses. Someone may be strong in analytics, and someone is better at communicating with the client – all of this should be seen and developed.

Don’t do the work for your employees

Either way you are doing tasks better and faster than your employees, it’s understandable, but can you do the work for everyone? No.

Example. The manager says to his employee: “Anton, come here, I’ll show you how to collect semantics and link factor analysis faster.” Then the specialist comes to the director, the director does everything, the employee nods his head, pretending to be insanely interested. That is, the manager did everything himself and gave the finished files to the employee.

Did the manager do the right thing? On the one hand, yes, he helped the person, but on the other, what did the employee get out of it? Except for the idea that if anything happens, you can run to the supervisor – he will cover and do everything for him.

Here it is rather possible to limit the framework: to give 20-30% of the information, and then the employee would perform the task independently.

The phrase perfectly fits this point: “Give your employees the opportunity to do their own thing”. If a person won’t do that, he will continue to live in a greenhouse, and you will be left to do the work for him and don’t forget to water him.

Control your emotions and don’t be moody

I once conducted an experiment and went to work for a week with a sad mood, somewhere showed nervousness. In the end it all reflected on the team.

The manager is a mirror for his employees!

In any situation in the team should be a healthy atmosphere. If you constantly carry negativity, you will infect your employees. By the way, other specialists can also do this, but the manager is “more contagious”.

As for emotions, I think everyone has had this urge to just hit an employee, but you can’t do that. You have to control your emotions and vent them elsewhere. Taking it out on employees and showing authority doesn’t lead to anything good.

If an employee is screwing up, ask yourself the question, “Why is this happening? Maybe I gave him the wrong task, it’s too difficult for him, he doesn’t know how to do it?” In any case, when you are annoyed by something, it is likely that two personalities are the cause: you and the employee. There are exceptions when the person just isn’t pulling their weight, then the question is: Why did you bring him on your team?

Communicate with Employees

A bad example of a manager: he came to work at 9 am, gave out all the tasks, did his tasks and left at 6 pm.

Lack of communication can lead to bad consequences.

Imagine: an employee was late for work, sat in a fog all day, did not send an important report, which caused the client to leave the company.

What did the manager do? He fired the employee.

What really happened? The employee’s grandmother died and couldn’t concentrate on work because of the event.

What should have been done? Talk to the specialist right away, find out the reasons for being late, and if necessary, provide time off so that the person could clean up.

The good news is that any informal communication creates a good atmosphere in the team. We have Friday night get-togethers with refreshments and lively conversation on various topics. It’s cool to get to know your employees from a different perspective and create friendships. But it’s worth separating working and non-working relationships. During sit-downs, you’re friends, and in work mode, you’re coworkers.


You should always remember that the employees are people for whom you are responsible, and all their mistakes and shoals are yours, namely, not fully built up processes.

Next, first of all, sort yourself out, use your strengths and develop your weaknesses, work with time management, prioritize and make decisions!