9 Management Rules of the Road
Most entrepreneurs have more than enough to do: capital to secure, products to develop, websites to design, marketing campaigns to roll out. It’s no wonder that management often gets put on the back burner--something to be handled when there’s nothing else to do. And, of course, there’s always something to do when you’re an entrepreneur.
But forgetting to prioritize the people management side of your business means that performance can suffer--and so can your bottom line. Here are 9 simple rules that, if you can make the time to act on them, will have a positive impact on you, your employees and customers, and your organization.
1. Managing is a people job.
Put people first. In the daily rush of activities, it’s easy to forget that it’s your employees who make your business what it is. They answer your phones, greet your customers, build your products and provide your services. Putting employees at the top of your priority list will pay you back many times over in increased loyalty, perseverance and quality of work.
2. Managing is what you do with people, not to people.
While it’s true that management involves a certain amount of direction, monitoring and discipline, the best managers realize that their role is to coach their employees to better performance by supporting them. Give your employees the training and resources that they need, support them when they need your help, and then get out of their way!
3. If it’s to be, it begins with me.
If you expect your employees to become more engaged in their jobs, or to treat your customers better, or to otherwise change the way that they do business, then it’s up to you to set a good example for them to follow. If you set a positive example, then your employees will naturally follow.
4. The best business is common sense.
Despite the constant flood of books touting the latest management fads, most entrepreneurs already have within them the tools that they need to manage well. The most important of these tools is common sense. Use your common sense at every possible opportunity, and you’ll be miles ahead of the rest of the pack.
5. Always ask: What do your customers value?
Far too much time and money is wasted doing things that make no contribution whatsoever to what customers and clients value. First, ask your customers what they care about. Next, review your organization with an eye to ensuring that every employee is focused on activities that directly support the things that your customers value.
6. Watch what you reward.
Employees are eager to do the things that you reward them for doing. For example, if you let an employee habitually arrive late to work without holding him accountable, then you are reinforcing and encouraging more of that behavior, while loudly broadcasting to other employees that it’s okay to be late. Carefully consider exactly what it is that you want your employees to do, and then reward your employees only when they do it.
7. Remember: It’s not personal, it’s business.
It’s easy for people to mix up their emotions with business decisions--after all, we’re all human. It can be difficult to separate your personal feelings from the business decisions that you have to make, but separate them you must. When you make a decision that will have an impact on your employees--particularly an impact that is negative--ensure that they know that it’s business, not personal.
8. If you don’t like the way things are today, be patient.
Everything will change tomorrow. Business has always been anything but static. As a result, flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important characteristics for businesspeople to possess. Business is in a state of constant change. Take advantage of that change by being prepared for it--and by preparing your employees to adjust when the time comes.
9. Make work fun.
Most of us spend roughly one-third of our lives at work. Do your employees look forward to coming to work in the morning or do they dread even the thought of walking through your doors? When you make your workplace a fun place to be, the result is engaged employees. And this positive energy is contagious--it is sure to rub off on your customers and clients. Make both fun and profit key goals of your organization.
While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.