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3 Tips to Become an Exceptional Manager

3 tips graphicRecognize This! – Selflessness, good assumptions and recognition are the most powerful tools in the good manager’s arsenal.

In my most recent post on Compensation Café, I referenced a quote from Don Knauss, CEO of Clorox, about the “head” part of leadership. In Don’s terms, the “head” is focused on, well, focus – how you communicate to and reinforce for employees the tightly focused priorities need for organizational success. Today, I’m digging deeper into the same interview with Mr. Knauss to look at the “heart” part of leadership. He said:

“On the heart side, the lesson is that it’s all about your people. If you’re going to engage the best and the brightest and retain them, they’d better think that you care more about them than you care about yourself. They’re not about making you look good.  You’re about making them successful. If you really believe that and act on that, it gains you credibility and trust. You can run an organization based on fear for a short time. But trust is a much more powerful, long-term and sustainable way to drive an organization.

“The other thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to assume the best intent of people, and that they’re really trying to do a good job. I’ve seen organizations that are based more on fear than trust because senior management really thinks people are trying to get one over on them, that they’re just punching a clock. People really are trying to do a good job, and they want to be proud of where they work. Understanding that helped make me a bit more patient.”

Once again, Mr. Knauss offers three essential lessons to be a good, effective manager:

1) Always put your people first. When digging deeper into the truism “People leave managers, not companies,” a constant refrain from employees is, “My manager took credit for my work or made me look bad so he/she could look good.” The mark of a truly good manager is the members of his or her team are universally successful in their individual roles.

Ask yourself – Are you leading your people to be the best they can be or to make you look the best you can look?

2) Assume good intent. People don’t start a new job with the goal of doing it poorly. Even those who are less than fully engaged still want to deliver against their goals. When managers assume good intent of those on their teams, it leads to looking for the impetus – the driving force, if you will – behind the action or result.

Ask yourself – When following up on a project status or meeting with your team, do you ask first why a task has not been completed or review all successes to date?

3) Tell people when they’re doing good work. People want to do a good job, but they need to know when the work produced is good in order to continue to deliver at that level. Besides, it’s obvious that if you want someone to continue doing something, let them know! It’s as simple as saying, “I notice what you do and am grateful for it.”

Ask yourself – Do you take the time, every day, to pause, notice and recognize your employees for contributions, efforts and results that achieve the bigger goals? Do you make your recognition specific, personal and meaningful so employees can be “proud of where they work?”

Think for a moment about the best manager you had the pleasure to work for. What made them good?

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