Even if your job title doesn’t include the word “manager,” there’s a good chance you’ll be expected to handle some management duty in the course of your career. As an entrepreneur, almost every responsibility in your position has some management element to it — your employees will be the ones making your vision a reality, and it’s your job to make sure they do it efficiently.
But being an effective manager is about more than just driving your employees to work harder — or even more efficiently. Forcing your employees to work a certain way can breed resentment, and even disloyalty, while being too soft can lead to bad habits, laziness, or boredom. There’s no “right” management style, as each individual and each company is going to have their own perspectives, but there are some universally “wrong” ways to manage.
If you want to remain effective, follow these 10 “golden” rules of effective management:
1. Be consistent. This is the first rule because it applies to most of the others. Before your management approach begins to be effective, it must be consistent. You must reward the same behaviors every time they appear, discourage the same behaviors when they appear, and treat every member of your team with an equal, level-headed view.
2. Focus on clarity, accuracy, and thoroughness in communication. How you communicate to your team can dictate your eventual success. When relaying instructions, recapping meetings, or just doling out company updates, strive for the clarity, accuracy, and thoroughness of your communication. This goes for any medium, too, whether it’s in person, over email, or over the phone. This is the best way to avoid miscommunication and keep your team on the same page.
3. Set goals as a team to work as a team. If you want your team to work together, you have to have them work for something together. Setting goals for each department or for each individual will breed a departmental or individual mentality and force your team members to remain isolated. Instead, give your team a unified focus and purpose to inspire them together.
4. Reward and recognize hard work for everyone to see. When a member of your team does something exceptional, reward him/her — it could be a bonus, a small trophy, or even just a vocal recognition of effort. Do this in front of the group; it will make the intended recipient feel good, and show the rest of the team that hard work is rewarded. The only caveat goes back to rule one — be consistent in your rewards or it could seem like you’re playing favorites.
5. Be the example. As the manager and leader, people will look to your behavior as the example. If you show up late, your team will be less punctual. If you lose your temper easily, people will be worse at keeping their emotions in check. Strive to be your own ideal of the perfect worker, especially when in front of the team.
6. Never go with one-size-fits-all. Your team is comprised of unique individuals with unique preferences, strengths, weaknesses, and ideas. Never use the exact same approach to motivate, encourage, or mold all of them. Focus on individuals, and customize your approach to fit each of them.
7. Remain as transparent as possible. Transparency shows your integrity as a leader, and builds trust with the individual members of your team. If you lie about something, or withhold information, it could jeopardize your relationships and the respect you command as a leader.
8. Encourage all opinions and ideas. The more people you have actively participating in discussions and attempting to make improvements to the organization, the better. Never chastise a team member for voicing an opinion respectfully — even if it goes against your original vision or isn’t well thought-out. Cutting someone down for voicing an opinion builds resentment, and discourages people from sharing new thoughts.
9. Help people enjoy work. You don’t need a pool table or an abolished dress code to make work fun. You can incorporate any new practices, rules, or establishments to make the workday more enjoyable, such as surprise lunch outings, a dedicated break room, or even just casual conversations with your workers. Make your people enjoy coming to work, and they’ll do their best work for you.
10. Listen and ask questions. If someone doesn’t agree with your management style or doesn’t like the direction of the company, don’t silence them. Listen. And ask questions of your entire team: what do you think of this? How do you feel about that? This open dialogue makes it easier to proactively identify problems, and work together to create a mutually beneficial environment. It will also make your employees feel appreciated and acknowledged.
As you’ll notice, these rules leave plenty of wiggle room to apply your own personal “brand” of leadership and management. They stand as fundamental truths, considerations, and principles that govern an effective management role rather than a strict instruction manual to success. Stay true to these principles in addition to your own, and you’ll unify your team in a rewarding and enriching environment.