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Mar 3
How Well Do You Know Each Other?

We’re taking a look at 12 simple (but not simplistic) principles every manager needs to know. As a review, let’s review the first nine principles: 

1. Quit focusing on the outward appearance and concentrate on what’s on the inside.  

2. Be a good listener. 

3. Put Yourself in Your Employees’ Shoes  

4. Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant!  

5. Allow people to have some autonomy – don’t micromanage them  

6. It’s Not Always About the Money  

7. Ranting, raving, yelling, and screaming at employees won’t motivate them. They’ll actually think you look stupid and immature.  

8. Understand your employees have outside concerns. They can’t just turn off their personal lives at work.   

9. People are emotional beings. Deal with them accordingly.   

When I was in the Navy, there was a certain person we all knew no matter where we were stationed. This person seemed to know exactly what was going on and specifically how to solve problems and give advice. This person was known as the “Sea Lawyer.”  

Now the problem with the “Sea Lawyer” was not that they knew things, it was that they THOUGHT they knew things. Their information came from bits and pieces of rumor and filled in with advice from others and past experiences. It usually meant the advice they gave you was believable enough for you to take action on, but generally the wrong information.  

Our tenth principle asks the question: Is it possible to know everything there is to know about management? Maybe. After all, there are “Sea Lawyer” equivalents all over corporate America. Someone will always jump up to offer you advice. There are of course numerous books on the subject – just take a walk through the management aisle of any large bookstore. Nearly every celebrity and academic has a perspective. You can also take classes, seminars, and workshops. It’s safe to say there are more than enough resources available to you.  

Is it enough though?  

Absolutely not! No matter how many classes you take and how many books you read, you’ll never know everything there is to know about management. Think about it. You are managing human beings. No computer system can match the intelligence possessed in the human brain. No robotic equipment can adapt as quickly to manual labor as a human can. No artificial intelligence programmer can factor in the multiple emotions a human has. There’s no way you’ll ever figure it all out. How then can anyone say they don’t need to continually learn about management?  

I’m also intrigued by folks who tell me in workshop critiques that the course was too basic. (“A good course for entry-level managers, but not for senior people.”) At what point do we put off the fundamentals and search for new answers? How about NEVER!   

Recently I read a story in the USA Today describing the rise in NBA talent from Europe and the eroding skill levels of U.S. born players. Every expert interviewed in the article said the same thing: European players drill endlessly on the fundamentals: dribbling, passing, and shooting. U.S. players skip fundamentals, focusing on flashy individualism. Current NBA superstars increasingly hail from overseas – the fundamentals work!  

So how do we focus on management and leadership fundamentals? Start by committing yourself to an hour of reading and study per day. Attend workshops with an open mind. Get yourself assigned to a coach or a mentor. Make a conscious effort to grow in your abilities.  

Your hard work will pay off if you really put forth the effort.  

August 13, 2006

How Well Do You Know Each Other?

How well do you relate with your employees?  Do you think it makes a difference?

If you ask me, ABSOLUTELY!

In many of the workshops I do, we get started with an icebreaker activity called "Little-Known Facts" where each participant shares something about themselves (nothing embarrassing of course) that few people, if any would know.  The teaching point is to make the case that knowing something more than just superficial information makes a manager seem more responsive and interested in their workers.

Does it work?  ABSOLUTELY!  If a manager shows interest and appears relevant to their staff, they'll get much more in terms of productivity, positive attitude, and support.

Today my kids were talking about the start of school and who their favorite teachers are at Stedwick Elementary School.  My son's overwhelming favorite is Mr. Dave Harris, who he had in the 3rd Grade.  You see, both Mr. Harris and my son (and ok, myself included) are big fans of WWE Wrestling.  Dustin had an immediate bond with him.  He also talked about Mr. Harris' pet Piranha and Lion Fish.  In fact, everything about Mr. Harris (according to Dustin) was "cool."  Interestingly enough, 3rd Grade was Dustin's most productive school year to date.  He loved being in class and never dreaded Monday.

Now it didn't take much for Mr. Harris to relate.  He simply shared his interests with the class, which happened to be relevant to a class of 3rd Graders, who happened to be his responsibility.  The results speak for themselves.  This process works.

So how are you doing in relating to others around you?  Do you take a legitimate interest in them?  Do you share the things important to you?  Why not try it this week and see if relationships in the office improve.

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