Growing Your Own Managers, Part 5

Part 5: Once you start developing your own talent, there are some rules for leading people and managing things.

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Once you start developing your own talent, there are rules for leading and managing people. The following sums up my experience leading people, plus growing several companies:

1. When in Charge, Lead

Nothing destroys your ability to lead than not taking charge. If you have the position, people expect you to lead. You have a legitimate right to give direction and provide support, so do it or lose it.

2. Unity of Command

Everybody should have only one boss. Reporting to multiple people runs people ragged with conflicting demands and kills accountability. There is nothing wrong with people in the organizational chart disagreeing. In fact, it’s healthy. However, when you leave the office, everyone must speak with one voice. Airing your differences with the workforce hurts morale and portrays leadership doesn’t know what it is doing.

3. Chain of Command

An open-door policy for the people working for you is fine. But if they work for somebody that reports to you, make that person handle the problem. If you jump over the organizational chart or allow people to run around it, the only outcome is conflict and loss of accountability.

4. Be What You Expect

Role model the behaviors you expect. Nothing turns people off more than conveying the attitude of do as I say, not as I do. This is challenging especially in family-based businesses. Nobody should be above the rules. If you allow this double standard, there is no real accountability.

5. Treat Everybody as Individuals

Each of us is different with a complex mix of attitudes and personal characteristics. The essential questions to ask and answer are: Does the person have the ability to do the job? Does the person have the willingness to do the job? Each of these questions requires different treatment.

The following list is a summation of my experiences managing things:

1. Bring Order out of Chaos

The number one role of management is to bring stability and clarity to the work day. It is not the responsibility of the people reporting to you to figure this out. Look at the situation, focus on the few critical issues now and leave the trivial many to later.

2. Remove Obstacles

The essential question whenever talking with the people that report to you is: What is preventing them from getting the job done right and on time? There are only three valid reasons—external obstacles are getting in the way, they lack the ability to perform or they are unwilling. If you don’t remove the obstacles, accountability becomes impossible.

3. Problem-Solving, Not Fault-Finding

If people are punished for bringing attention to bad news, you’re only going to find out what is wrong when it blows up. You can deal with the guilty party later. Right now, you have a problem that needs solving and the only way that can happen is for bad news to be delivered immediately.

4. Solve Problems, Not Treat Symptoms

Once the problem is brought to your attention, make sure it is the problem. Many treat the symptom and wonder why the problem resurfaces later. The principle of the five whys stipulates that, when somebody brings you a problem, you ask why the problem happened and continue to ask until you get to the root cause.

5. Everything Has a Budget

Business is a game, but the money is real. Everybody’s job is about advancing the business. At a minimum, every job should have labor hours and materials. There are many methods of teaching the business to your employees, this is just the fastest.