Have you ever had a great manager? Someone who made you extra excited to go to the office and do your best work possible every day.
How did they do that?
Even though management is an essential skill for most business owners, it’s often overlooked as something that needs to be learned and practiced. This can have negative consequences on factors that directly impact the bottom line, including team productivity, employee turnover, and client relations. Thankfully, because it is a skill and not some innate talent — anyone can improve their management capabilities.
Earlier this month, we shared some helpful management tips from the Thirukkural, a 2,000-year old classic Tamil text, for our weekly Book Corner. Here are three more tips from a modern text — Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson — to improve your team management skills.
Tip #1: Stay humble.
Thompson’s first tip is that no matter how large your business grows, never lose touch with the front line. Even if most of your work becomes planning and directing at a high level, spend at least a few hours per month working in the field.
Taking some time to do the work that your team is doing ensures that you maintain real-time knowledge of what is happening at every level of your business. It is also a way to gain the respect of those who work for you and to show them respect as well.
Tip #2: Forget yourself.
The moment you begin managing others, you are no longer one person — you are your team. That means that the success of your team members takes the spotlight over your own individual career success. This echoes the tip from the Thirukkural that your job as a manager is to make sure your people have everything they need to succeed.
The main point: look after your people, and you shall rise.
Tip #3: Punish positively.
Everyone makes mistakes, including the people who work for you. How you respond to those mistakes defines who you are as a manager.
For example, it may be tempting to blow up in frustration at an employee who disappears for multiple hour-long breaks everyday without clocking out or letting anyone know. But yelling at them will not make them want to do a better job. In fact, it’d probably have the opposite effect.
In his book, Thompson makes the point that the goal of punishment is positive, so the tone and language should be positive, too. Never show anger when disciplining a team member. Make corrections using disinterested language that shows no bias. The moment you show anger or condescension when you punish is the moment you lose power in the situation and cause permanent harm.
You can express displeasure if you need to. Just don’t do it while you are disciplining. Make it a separate conversation.
Management is an essential skill that can make or break your business, so it is worth taking the time to learn, practice, and improve your capabilities. No matter how happy and productive your team is, there is always room for improvement, and bettering your management skills will always be a step in the right direction.
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