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Management skills


I’ve held more than a few positions in my career and I feel that I’ve collected several bits of things should never do.  Here are a few:

  • A manager should balance the needs of the company with the needs of the employee.  Never ask an employee to work an extra day, and thus have the employee loose a day of his weekend, just because the company is shifting the employee’s work week around.  If the company is making the change then it should be up to the company to eat the missed time.
  • An employee should never have to justify asking for assistance with a problem.  If you are the manager of a group where your employees can’t simply ask a question and get an answer without having snide remarks in reply or have to justify the need to ask the question in the first place then you have a problem.
  • Actually listen to your employees.  As much as people think business is top-down ruling if you piss off enough people at the bottom you’re going to have a problem.  Think you have a good team working for you?  Don’t want to lose any of the brain-trust that you’ve built up?  Better open your ears and make working in that team something they won’t want to walk away from.
  • Money does not motivate everyone.  That’s not to say that money isn’t a motivator but when it comes down to it do you really want someone working for you if they are only going to do a good enough job to get paid?  Personally, I’d much prefer to pay someone good money who wanted to be there anyway.  At least that way you know their work and dedication will be tops and you’ll pay them well so they won’t have to even consider going elsewhere.  And if you think you have people that you’re paying that would rather be elsewhere then you had better figure out how to excite them or you’re liable to loose them.
  • Don’t hide in your office.  Leading from the front and being a part of what’s happening not only improves your leadership skills but also lets you see what’s actually happening.  It’s a good thing to get your hands dirty every so often.
  • Make time for your employees.  I once worked for a guy who was constantly on the phone.  You could hardly get five minutes to shoot the breeze or ask a work question because he was constantly being pulled in different directions by meeting and phone calls.  Don’t get me started on his email in-box, either.  A few times a week, especially when he knew he’d been out of touch with his people, he’d go around and spend fifteen minutes or so with everyone just to make sure everything was working well and there were no problems that needed to be dealt with.  He also treated us with ice cream!  Even though he was busy he’d make sure to spend some time with everyone.
  • Trust your employees and what they think and say.  Don’t believe or agree with what’s being said?  Have you actually talked to your employees and understand why they have come to a different conclusion?
  • Handing off management of a task to a subordinate is not failing as a manager, it’s called delegation.
  • Praise in public, correct in private.

There are many others but this is what comes to mind right off hand.  What are some that I’ve missed?

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  1. Brett
    2012-05-17 at 16:57 EST

    Excellent post. Lots of good stuff that aligns with much of the current logic of modern management. W. Edwards Deming, Jay Galbraith, Edward Lawler, Peter Senge, and Margaret Wheatley have all written extensively on these principles.

    One nit to pick…

    Lose: The opposite of Win.
    Loose: The opposite of Tight.

    Please proofread your post accordingly. :-)

    • 2012-05-17 at 17:02 EST

      Thanks for the comments and for the fix. For some reason when I type lose my fingers just type loose! :)

  2. 2012-05-18 at 03:47 EST

    I fully agree, this is how real management should work (but unfortunately rarely do). I would expand a bit on the delegation part: don’t micromanage. People don’t feel weel when they feel you breathing on their neck. Empower them instead and treat them as equals.
    It may be useful to acknowledge your weaknesses and admit there are areas where some of your employees know better than you, you are the manager and not supposed to do their techincal job (of course, you should not either fall in the opposite extreme and don’t care).

  3. 2012-05-25 at 07:43 EST

    I nearly left you a reply, but then I wrote a blog post instead. http://bit.ly/KZi043

  1. 2012-05-22 at 23:52 EST
  2. 2012-05-25 at 07:42 EST

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