Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
Amazon has almost a million titles of books about management. A very small handful are actually worth reading.
But what if you're so busy running your company that you don't even have time for that? Here's my take on what you really need to know:
1. Adapt your management style to the individual.
Since everyone is unique, there is no one‐size‐fits‐all management style. Therefore, as you explain exactly what you want from each employee, actively solicit the employee's suggestions and ideas about how you can get the best possible work from him or her.
2. Address problematic behaviors quickly.
Criticism is best given in real time or immediately after the fact. If you wait until problems fester, you only end up making those problems worse, because the other person becomes accustomed to the problematic behavior.
3. Admit ignorance more often.
When you act like a know-it-all, you rob your employees of the opportunity to think and grow. Employees will respect you more if you're willing to admit they don't know everything. Rather than pontificate, ask questions that spark your employees' own creativity.
4. Adopt simple, relevant metrics.
Employees find complex measurement schemes confusing. Use metrics that are simple enough for an employee to understand at a glance and relate to the behaviors that you're trying to encourage. Avoid metrics that the employees can't directly affect.
5. Always be interviewing.
Rather than wait until your moment of greatest need, interview candidates all the time, even if you don't have any job openings. Use a combination of e‐mail and social networking to keep in touch with the best applicants, so you'll have them ready when you need them.
6. Become more transparent.
A boss who makes decisions without explaining the reasoning behind them risks appearing dictatorial and arbitrary. Even if they don't like your decision, employees will execute it more effectively is they understand exactly why you made that decision.
7. Be generous with your resources.
Money is what employees expect from their jobs, not their bosses. Your employees want you to be generous with information, time and praise, not to mention the coaching that only you can provide that helps employees to do their jobs better and become more successful.
8. Don't meddle after delegating.
With smartphones it's all too easy to "keep tabs" on everything that's going on. That kind of micro-managing, however, strips your employees of the willingness to make decisions, adding unnecessarily to your own work load.
9. Get written commitments.
When you run into a problem with an employee, gain agreement with the employee on the gap between the employee's performance and what's required. Ask the employee to come up with a plan to address the problem. Get it in writing.
10. Hire for attitude, not experience.
Some "experienced" candidates have just had the same bad experience over and over. Rather than focusing on what job candidates did in the past, focus on whether they have the attitude and basic skills that will make them extraordinary in the future.
11. Make decisions more quickly.
Obsessing about (and second‐guessing) your decision‐making is always a waste of time. You're better off making a "good enough" decision rather than waiting for an imaginary perfect decision to emerge from a real‐world situation.
12. Manage people not numbers.
Conventional business thinking is that what's important is slicing and dicing the numbers. However, numbers are the result of how well you manage people. The only way to get better numbers is to improve the performance of the individuals who work for you.
13. Remove employees who don't work out.
If an employee truly isn't working out, you're doing that employee no favor by leaving him or her in place. Not only are you stunting that employee's growth, you're demoralizing the other employees who must compensate for that employee's poor performance.
14. Resist playing favorites.
Playing favorites demoralizes the other employees, who know they don't matter as much and feel as if their best efforts won't be rewarded. Playing favorites also creates hostility toward the favorites, who are likely to be less effective as a result.
15. Set single priorities.
The entire concept of "priority" is that one thing (i.e. the priority) is more important than everything else. Every employee should have a single priority that's their single most important task or achievement. Fold other activities under that rubric.
16. Show loyalty to your employees.
You naturally want your best employees to stick around, rather than leave you in the lurch if they find a better job. To earn loyalty, give loyalty. Make a personal commitment to help your employees become more successful, even if it means extra effort on your part.
17. Vent privately not publicly.
While you no doubt find being the boss frustrating, if you explode at an employee or make a cutting or hurtful remark, it creates a wound that never heals completely. Your employees are not your punching bags! They'll be more effective if you show them how to calm in a crisis.