One of the best and most powerful business management books I have read is: It’s Okay To Be The Boss: The Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need, by Bruce Tulgan.
One of the many reasons I enjoyed the book is because it provides effective and realistic guidance for creating a better workplace, one that includes teamwork, empowerment, accountability, and performance. All of our clients have, at one time or another, complained about a lack of employee effort and/or accountability. Below are four points addressed in the book, and that I have tailored based on my own experience, that I believe help form the foundation for a better workplace:
1. There is an under-management epidemic.
Too many managers give responsibility without providing direction and support. This is not empowerment. Almost everybody performs better with guidance, support, and direction from a more experienced person. When you hire someone, regardless of their experience level, it is your responsibility to provide direction and support. Delegation is true empowerment, but getting work done through others is still an intense hands-on endeavor.
2. Treating everyone fairly does NOT mean treating everybody the same.
In fact, treating everybody the same regardless of behavior is unfair. There should be accountability. High performers should be rewarded, and there should be no secret deals. Make it clear and known that high performers will be treated differently. This creates excellent management leverage and an environment where your strong performers will thrive.
3. Take it one person at a time.
Every employee is different and should be managed differently, so think through the individual’s role, strengths and weaknesses, motivators, and stressors. Consider investing in a pre-employment evaluation tool for all employees that may bring to light an individual’s unique characteristics.
4. Manage every day.
First, manage yourself by setting aside time every day to review your schedule and priorities. Then, manage everyone else. If possible, try to meet with your employees (or their chain of command) on a periodic, rhythmic basis. Look them in the eye, be clear about expectations, ask for an account of her performance, review work results, and/or provide timely and candid feedback. You do not want to micromanage, but what gets measured gets done, and a manager who is “all over the details” is respected and powerful, if for no other reason than the fact that she is tracking performance.
Understanding the above points will make you a better manager, and will help you create a better workplace.