If you work as a supervisor, you know managing people means understanding them. If you don’t understand people, you won’t be an effective member—or leader—of any team.
Most managers lack the imagination to even try to figure out what makes people tick. Everyone’s motives are different, but as a successful manager you’ll need to learn which buttons to push. Taking a hard line in lieu of getting to know someone will get you nowhere.
Here are seven oft-repeated nuggets of wisdom passed down from successful mangers across a wide range of industries.
- Be influential. Whether you’re the boss or at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, you have opportunities to lead by example every single day. As a leader, your role isn’t to dominate others. Your job is to influence others. Key into the other members of your team. It makes for less interpersonal friction and, ultimately, for greater productivity.
- Talk like a teammate. Language matters, so be careful how you phrase things. “Let’s change this proposal so we are more likely to make the client happy” sounds a lot better than “I don’t want to lose this client because you keep messing up the proposal.” You can be clear and firm without being disrespectful. Don’t let conversations devolve into accusations and defensiveness. State your case, but show a genuine interest in hearing the other side as well. Asking questions and listening to the responses creates bonds between people.
- Don’t micromanage. If you’re going to delegate, trust the people you put in charge. If you’ve hired good people who know how to do their job, step back and worry about your own responsibilities for a while.
- Don’t hide. You may think you’ve “arrived” when you get that corner office. But you’re really shutting yourself off when you close that door behind you. Show your coworkers that you’re with them by being there. Walk around and talk to people—not just about work but about their lives outside of work. You’ll find yourself missing out on a lot of information when people have to come knock on your door when they want to discuss something.
- Fend off prima donnas. There is no place for a prima donna in an environment that requires teamwork. If you make the mistake of appearing to tolerate a prima donna, you open the gates to more fits of self importance— from the prima donna and from everyone else who thinks ploys for attention will work.
- Reward success. An all-too-often overlooked element of good leadership is knowing when to use praise and rewards. Take the time to give employees a little individual attention when they do good work. We’re not talking about a promotion and a pay raise. A small gesture such as a pat on the back or a public acknowledgment of a job well done is all it takes to motivate people and recharge their batteries.
- Dodge disaster. Good managers work deliberately. They plan for the future and encourage those around them to be methodical and thorough. But as you know, managers often have to manage tiny little disasters all day long. Be a boss, not a firefighter. Although you have to be responsive when unforeseen emergencies crop up, make sure your planning and scheduling are designed to make those emergencies few and far between.