By Igshaan Soules
Effective managers are highly valued by their companies. Like the sports coach who somehow molds a disparate group of players into a winning team (where previous coaches failed), it is often assumed that effective managers have secret techniques or methods.
Yet, for those in the know, their “secrets” are mainly common sense. Their approaches are the same as those used by successful leaders of armies or nations or scientific teams or companies – simple and basic approaches that have been used for centuries.
The following are five common sense things that effective managers consistently do well.
1. Be willing to change your route (but not your destination)
Effective leaders have always understood intuitively that being inflexible with regard to the means used to achieve a goal is a big mistake. The larger and more complex the project or work to be completed, the more likely it is that decisions about steps along the way (toward the main objective) will have to be revisited. The smart manager monitors all the major tasks that his/her employees are working on, with a view to determining what’s working and what’s not working. If it becomes clear that a prior decision must be revised or reversed, the effective manager does not hesitate to do so.
2. If employees are treated well, they will perform well.
It sounds too simple to be true, but it is true! The difficulty is in doing all the things involved with treating employees well. However, start off by building greater connection with employees. Then, advocate on their behalf with upper management and with Human Resources.
Also, respond reasonably and quickly to requests (for vacation time, sick time, unpaid leave, bereavement leave, etc.). If at all possible, you should take the time to listen whenever an employee asks to speak to you. Finally, if an employee request (of any sort) must be declined or if some other bad news must be delivered to one of the people under your authority, you should take the time to do it personally.
3. Be a good example.
Practice what you preach. In other words, don’t hold yourself “above the law.” If you stress punctuality as a requirement for all, be punctual. If you announce a set of guidelines about e-mail etiquette, follow the guidelines. If you talk about the importance of a customer focus, demonstrate that focus.
4. It’s okay to admit mistakes.
This is one that many managers will agree to in principal … but have great difficulty following through on! Obviously, you should not manufacture mistakes to admit. However, most people who make a large number of decisions – as managers within modern companies must do – will occasionally make a bad one. When that happens, it makes sense to acknowledge it to the employees affected and to resolve to address any resulting problems.
5. Enjoy what you do.
This is of critical importance. If you want a group of employees to work hard for months or years under your command, it’s essential that you appear to like what you’re doing! Employees need inspiration as well as efficient organization. If they see that you are a “happy warrior” who thrives on challenges and is never discouraged by obstacles and impediments, they will be energized.
The “secrets” of effective managers are tried and true approaches of people management. Incorporating these approaches into your management repertoire requires commitment and ingenuity, but it is certain to garner results in the long run.