Leading People - Management Tips that Get the Best Results from your Team
Tips to Lead People who will Want to Follow You
Are you new to the management ranks or just looking for a few tips to be an even better leader? Below are a handful of tips I learned (some the hard way), from supervising literally thousands of people over 20+ years. I hope 1 or 2 of them will be helpful to you.
Set Expectations - What are the 3-5 things you want to your team to stand for? The items for which you will be uncompromising and unwavering - the minimum standard. Keep them simple, clear, and concise. A sample list might be:
- Top Quality, Accurate Work
- On Time Delivery
- Teamwork - We ALL Win or We ALL Fail Together
- Continuous Improvement
Don't let the list become too long or complicated. Focus on these items over and over - use them as the basis for decision making and teaching. For example, if a snag will cause a project to be delayed by a week, but cutting a corner or two will bring it in on time - refer back to the #1 priority in the sample list above - Top Quality - and the decision is easily made - no cutting corners that would compromise quality. Be repetitive and consistent in sticking to your expectations and you will find there will be fewer day to day decisions that you will need to make. Your employees will already know the answers and can move forward without you.
Listen - Too often, particularly as a new manager, we think we have to have all of the answers. But if you've done a good job of hiring, your staff will have some great ideas and input. Listen to them and implement the best suggestions. You may think you know what's really going on, but once you became the boss, the real pipeline of information dried up somewhat. So listen to the complainers, the things that are left unsaid, and take action on what you hear. Prove to your team that you've got their back and are there to help them.
Set the Example - If you want people to get their work done on time, then get yours done early. If you tell them you'll do XYZ by Friday, then do it by Thursday. If you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. If something prevents you from making a commitment, communicate to them early and give them an updated commitment. If you expect people to work late to meet a project commitment, then you need to do the same to meet your commitment to them. Emulate the behavior you want from the team.
Be Decisive - While you don't need to have all the answers, you do need to make timely decisions. Don't let issues linger. Gather input, do research if needed, or go with your gut and experience. Whatever input you need, get it. But DO make timely decisions. If you're in charge, then be in charge.
Trust - The vast majority of people want to do a good job. Trust in their skills, their expertise, and their word. Yes, there will be mistakes. Yes, some people will take advantage. But when you let your employees take responsibility for their work, provide ideas, and have input on how to do things, the quality of their work and pride in their results will climb. If they feel micro-managed and have no control over their work, you will get minimum effort and results - on a good day.
Praise and Acknowledge - When someone does a stellar job, acknowledge it. Say Thank You when people do a little extra. Praise the effort it took to bring a project in on time. Look for things to thank people for, but always be sincere. On the flip side, you also have to acknowledge errors and failures - in private if it's an individual issue - in a group if it's a team issue. Not addressing problems can become very demoralizing to the rest of the team. It's unfair to those who consistently perform well, and it will erode the credibility of your expectations over time. Weed out the poor performances and poor performers. It will lift the morale and quality of the team. In public, praise your team and give them all of the credit. Take personal responsibility for any failures or issues.
Teach - You learned things along the way that got you to where you are now. Share those lessons - good and bad. Help each employee to grow and improve - get promoted or move on. Don't hang on to the best performers. Let them move on. Nothing says more about the quality of a good leader than the number of people who are promoted out of the area or are in high demand. People will want to work for you and will keep that pipeline full of the best talent.
Managing poeple isn't an easy job. Every person is different. But if you have a basic set of guiding principles to operate within, it will serve as a basis for all of your decisions. As you watch people blossom and grow under your supervision, you will find it to be one of the most rewarding jobs around.