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Topic 1: The Do’s and Don’ts of being a successful manager

March 14, 2013

I have a very laid back approach to training, coaching and reaching out to my staff. This is my style, and I have seen a lot better of a response from my team when they are managed this way.

Everyone wants to be successful, and I want my team to be very successful. Micro-managing and being strict is NOT the way to go…Happy employees have a higher success rate and tend to do a better job on site. They want to stay at work longer and make sure they give 200% on every project (or for my store—a sale).

I have tried the approach of micro-managing and I wore myself out and my team was un-informed and never learned anything about the company or what it takes to be a successful manager. Give them responsibility and help direct them not tell them everyone step that needs to be done or that they are missing. You will be impressed by how smart and talented your team is, and your team will love that you give them freedom to do their job. If you are consistently micro-managing you are either in the wrong position or you have employees that are not in the correct opening.

The first thing I started to do with my staff was listen. I listened to their ideas, (whether good or bad, I listened) thoughts, suggestions, and most importantly I got to know them personally! The workplace is changing nowadays. The whole “leave it at home” philosophy isn’t as important anymore. Get to know your employees. I have become not only a role model but a friend to my staff. And as a manger that is just fine! Most people say DO NOT be a friend to your employee. I disagree…It all comes down to respect. You can be a friend and still keep it professional by maintaining respect for one another! DO NOT ever never ever talk about sex, drinking, partying etc….this is where the “keep it at home” comes into play. That is how you lose respect. Talk about your love for food with employees, their interests and hobbies, friendships, family life. The more you open up your employees the better understanding you will have as a manager of their needs and aspirations.

Employees do not want to think you are superhuman! They want a real down to earth boss that knows the struggles and hardships the job contains. They will learn by example. If you can help them through the hard times and listen to why they are struggling and tell them how you got through a similar situation, you will have a “super staff”. This is what I call a staff that makes it through thick and thin and learns from their opportunities and their wins! It has taken me a year to get my super staff! But I have the strongest team in my district now. Be real with your employees.

Remember that it is super important to make your staff look good! NEVER throw them under the bus or blame something on one of your members.

I have a very good example of this. When I worked for Bohme I was in charge of merchandising. I set all the floor moves and went from store to store to train them on merchandising their walls. This was not easy! One of the owners, Fernanda, was very critical of the way the clothes were to be merchandised. She would make it known too when she was unhappy. One of the girls I had trained had dressed a mannequin that was not very cute! Fernanda came into the store and said it was the ugliest thing she has seen and wanted to know who had dressed it. Instead of saying “Ashley did it” I responded “ I was in charge of the move last night, and I approved of the mannequins. WE wanted to try and sell this sweater by putting it on a mannequin. If it does not sell, we will change in immediately.” Fernanda dropped the situation because she respected me and my decisions. I took responsibility and took the blame for the situation. Most people think this is crazy! But the respect I gained from this employee was unreal! I then realized where I needed to train my employee and coach her more on mannequins. All of this happened without entering into a negative conversation. Could you imagine how the conversation would of gone is I would of responded “Ashley did it!” The workplace should never be full of backstabbing or dog-eat-dog kind of competition. Get to the top the respectable way. Help each other to watch each other succeed. You will gain so much respect and good friendships along the way.

A manager always needs to be a team player and respond to their superior as “WE”. Believe it or not, but your employees are what makes you look good as a leader! You don’t make yourself a good manager. Your team does. I could personally always hit our 100$ SPH mark, but if my team isn’t hitting theirs, what does that say to me? It either means I have the wrong staff or I am not training them correctly. I take a hit on my personal SPH sometimes in order for my staff to keep their $100 SPH. Happy employees give me better performance. If they never reach the goal and I am always reaching mine they will get discouraged and give you a lower performance. What all this means is give your team credit by saying “WE are successful!” “WE made a mistake.” “WE finished the project on time.” One word comes from this; RESPECT!

Something a lot of managers forget to do when they move into a new position is do their job. Seriously, I have seen managers that stop working as hard or rely on their staff to get their job done too. Delegation is HUGE! But you shouldn’t be delegating more than 40% of your responsibilities. Your team members watch your every move! They look up to you for direction, advice, coaching, information, etc. If you are not giving 110% you cannot expect them to.

This means, be on time not only to the office, but on assignments, complete all projects to the best of your ability, show them what you have done teach them how you did it. You cannot slack as a manager. Your team will slack and you will lose respect from everyone around you. Every time I learn something new I immediately teach it to my team. Whether it is face-to-face, in an email, a text, or even a simple note, I want them to know what I know. (This helps too if you ever go out of town! Your team will know exactly what to do and how to do it!)

Create mini-managers. Don’t be afraid that someone will outshine or show you up! This is a good thing. Give them credit for being a rockstar and take credit knowing you have helped develop a strong team member. I have an employee that is an amazing seller! And someday soon she will be a manager and I am certain she will be a better than I am! I have taught her everything I know, and she has developed her skills too. Double the power!! I let her know this too. Positive reinforcement is so important when maintaining top performance among your employees. Everyone wants to know how important they are, and what a good job they do.

This leads to the harder side of managing. What if you have an employee that is not producing good results. ALWAYS talk to them first. Understand why they are struggling. Never assume they are being lazy, or they are not a good employee. Ask them what they need from you to achieve better results or get their job done. Set goals and a time frame for them to be completed. Help them achieve it. In a way a manager is like a tutor. Just because they don’t get it up front does not mean they can’t learn it a different way. If the problem gets fixed, Congratulations your approach was successful! If it does not, you need to talk to the employee and this time you can be upset and concerned. Sometimes people are not built for the job that they want or have. That is alright. Bosses and managers sometimes get mad at employees and think “Why are not they not understanding this?!” Every single person is different and if they aren’t producing good results it doesn’t mean they are lazy and incompetent in most situations. The position they have filled may not be the correct opening for them. Help them figure that out and get where they need to be.

Communication is huge. You need to always communicate with your employees. Even the small things matter! Don’t assume your employees know what you mean or what you are thinking. THEY DON’T! I’ve done it before and it has bit me in the ass. The best place to be a micro-manager is in your communication! Repeat yourself twice on things. But ONLY twice. Ask them if they understand what needs to be done or how to do something. Give them the option to ask you later.

“Well Charlie, if you come across questions or anything you are confused about send me an email or come see me. I can help you with it.”

Someone may understand it while your explaining and as soon as they start the project they have questions. If you don’t give them the opportunity to come to you for questions half of the time they wont ask you for help! This can be a disaster!!

Set goals and time lines for your staff. If they know the expectation and know when it is to be completed then there is no excuse for the project to be unfinished or under company standards.

Be a leader and trust yourself. If you think you are right, go with it. Remember though to try out your teams ideas too. If you are not confident in your decisions and fail to make your team confident in them as well, then you will have problems later! Never divide your team because you make a decision they do not agree upon. It is your job to listen why they don’t agree and help persuade them to understand your thinking and ideas. If you can get your whole team on the same page, they will help make your ideas successful. Successful ideas = successful team = successful You.

Be aware of your tone and mood. If you are having a bad day with something at home or are mad at one of your employees watch how you treat others. You have to be a good manager within yourself to be responsible for a team. If you can’t manage feelings and emotions within yourself you will be letting yourself and your team down because you don’t have the ability to manage others. This goes for relationships, family, “me” time, etc. If you cannot balance your life, you wont be able to balance a top performing staff.

Be flexible. Do not be that staunch manager that doesn’t budge or adapt to new situations. Diversity is huge in a staff! You want a diverse staff where each member brings a strength and something new to the table. But diversity is also the hardest thing to manage. You need to be flexible with each employee. I have a sales lead that will take any criticism and keep it constructive. I have another sales lead that has a hard time doing that. I have to be a different manager to each lead. One I can be blunt and honest, the other I have to more delicate with my wording. This is ok with employees. I have the same things to say to each sales lead, but I approach the situations differently. Flexibility. Don’t manage each employee the same. Keep the same values and standards but no one is going to respond to a mono-tone manager.

Have fun with your employees. We hold contests each week for top performers. Given your job is different figure out a way to make it exciting.

Example: Imagine if Donald Trump were your boss and you are trying to make it in the Real Estate market. You’d want to pick his brain right? Now lets say you hold a contest for the top performing engineer for the month or something. Invite them to lunch or dinner with you! If Donald Trump were your boss you would do ANYTHING to get that lunch date! Be that kind of manager. Be the one your employees strive to be. Make them want to pick your brain. They would never want to do this with you if you were strict and un-personable. Make them want to get to your position because of the good you have taught each member. Be creative when it comes to something fun! Contests or awards aren’t just for high schoolers. Everyone loves a good challenge!

Be present not cocky. The presence of a manager is very important! They should know when you are in the building or when you are in a room. You do this by grace and confidence. You should NEVER have to tell someone you are the boss. They should know that by looking at you and speaking with you. Take accountability for your actions and your teams actions. Show them why you are the boss, don’t tell them. Show your team members a good example of a boss. Go above and beyond for each of your employees! Not just the top performers. Maintain top performers and develop bottom performers. That is they key to a successful staff.

Always remember there is no perfect manager! Take ideas and make them your own! Learn from your mistakes and teach your team about them too. You can only get better if you acknowledge your faults and challenge yourself to be better about it! Approach situations differently and find what works best for your management style. Stay positive and creative!

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