Managing employees is often cited as the hardest component of any managerial role. This is certainly true for CEO's as well; the difference between well and poorly managed employees can be the difference between success and failure. How should you go about managing your employees? Here are some tips:
This can be very tough and counter intuitive. The moment one mentions poorly managed employees the first thought that comes to mind is employees that are undermanaged. That is, not given directions and allowed to slack if they want. However the opposite is more likely to be the case and to be a problem. The case in which employees are given too many guidelines and are watched over ruthlessly. Employees need to feel a sense of freedom to explore their full potential. They can't have a guideline for every activity or they won't be able to discover better ways of doing their job. The best companies don't hire employees to do a specific task rather they hire problem solvers. Problem solvers need freedom and autonomy to do just that. Experiment with different techniques and solve problems. The goal is to lead people in solving problems rather than micro managing them to finish tasks. With that said there is a clear point where you can go too far and undermanage as well; it is a critical balance that you must find.
This may sound overly simple, but it is amazing how often CEO's manage from their office and are never to be seen out and about. Don't be the person that no one ever sees. The CEO should, if possible, be the person many employees see the most on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes this is as trivial as going to the staff kitchen to get your coffee instead of your own private one. It gives you a chance to talk a bit and get a feel for the mood of your employees. The image of the boss who sits in an office all day that no one ever sees him/her is not fit for today's business climate. Make a habit of just walking around at least a few times a day.
As mentioned in the outset is important to not over manage; however, this also makes reviewing an extremely important feedback mechanism. If you give your employees the freedom to achieve tasks on their own, then this comes with the extra challenge for them that the task must get completed. You need to frequently review progress. Ideally you can set up a method that quantifies a measurement of success. This way the process can go quickly with a sense of fairness and unbiasedness.
Nothing is less fruitful then calling someone into your office to review their performance and the conversation deteriorates into them saying they didn't get the task done because they didn't understand what they were supposed to do. It is very important to express in a clear and concise format what is expected of them. Give them freedom within the task to figure out the best way to do it but make sure they know what is required from them. Make it clear that they have freedom with regards to how it gets done and that you won't be looking over their shoulder, but you expect clear and well defined results.
Flexibility and change is really front and center in the new high tech business world. Thus, don't be afraid to try new things. Try different employees in different situations and see how it goes. If the employee doesn't like to try new things, then right there, you learned something about them. If you experiment with different employees in different roles doing different tasks you are going to learn a lot. It is also important to instill a sense of flexibility in your work staff. It becomes a culture of experimentation vs. a culture of stagnant job roles. Not only is it required in the business climate of today but just creating that atmosphere will lead to more flexible employees.