Friday, April 29, 2011

Top Ten Tips for Managers

Looking back, all the HR-sponsored management training I’ve had focused on liability. Oh, sure, there was some lip service to topics like "diversity" and "reflexive listening" but the point of the training was to ensure the company didn’t get sued because of me.

It isn’t really surprising, since as recently as two years ago talent management thought leaders tended to focus on things like performance management automation. There were very few voices that recognized the importance of good management.

Now, of course, everyone gets it and HR is looking for ways to offer practical, practicable management tips to the average manager who isn't high enough in the food chain to be eligible for external leadership training.

To meet this rising demand, the indefatigable Ben Eubanks has requested posts for his upcoming new eBook HR Tips for Managers.

I just realized I missed the deadline but here are my ten tips and you can check out what Dave Ryan has to say over at HR Official:
  1. Talk to people about what they want – To lead others you need to understand what motivates them. If you guess you'll probably guess wrong so ask them.
  2. Help people achieve their career goals - As I wrote about in my Thanksgiving post Managers: Time to Talk Turkey, the key to getting the best performance out of people is to show them how your goals align with theirs.
  3. Be flexible – Does it really matter when, where or how people work as long as the job gets done?
  4. Be human not a robot – Take an interest in people. Ask about their families. Share information. Don't embarrass people by sharing too much information but be approachable.
  5. Give regular feedback – Nothing you communicate during the annual performance review should be a surprise. Let people know how they’re doing early and often.
  6. Be appreciative – Nothing motivates like saying thank you and good job sincerely. And when your team makes you look good to your manager don't forget to give credit where credit is due.
  7. Forget fair – Everyone’s different. Recognize great performance, address poor performance and try to tailor 'rewards' to what individuals value.
  8. Help the team bond – People who like each other work better together and yes, that’s part of your job. Create bonding occasions like team lunches or invite your team over for a barbeque.
  9. Help people play to their strengths – One of the strongest motivators is pride, which people are more likely to feel if they're good at what they do.
  10. Don't rely on an open door policy - Get your nose out of that computer and make time for people. And don't wait for them to come to you, go talk to people.
Note that most of these tips assume your team sits in one location, which may not be the case. For tips on managing remote workers check out my post Modern Workforce: Managing Remote Workers.
Cartoon courtesy of Scott Adams and Mark's Dilbert Jalbum.


  1. Wow! Very good points made here. These 10 items are must haves for any manager, who wishes to be successful at managing others, needs to have in their knowledge repertoire. A manager may not always need to exercise these 10 items all the times (I say that with a grain of salt of course) but once they understand them they will be able to see other important aspects of being a successful manager. It’s also helpful to have a mentor. Managers who have mentors in management have a higher probability of not repeating the same mistakes other managers have made while managing others.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, Gil. I almost included 'go find a mentor' because I completely agree with you about how important it is. Since I wanted to stop at 10 I ended up leaving it off in favor of what the manager directly controls. Thank you again for taking the time to add it here, every manager should try to find a good mentor.

  3. A good manager can expertly handle the wide range of personalities of his or her subordinates. This should always be the case since the manager is a leader, and a good leader should always lead through influence. But the interpersonal relationship aspect is still just one part of the equation, since a manager also has to look into the system in which everyone moves through. A good system that is well-thought-of and passes certification can yield better productivity rates and happier working people.

    - Barton Wilson

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