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Seven Pillars of Good Management

April 20, 2018
Emphasizing "mission," "purpose," and “sustainability" can help separate your organization from its competitors

People management has changed dramatically since the time when corporations were the dominant business model and people were simply workers in service to operational efficiency. Today, the operational model emphasizes “mission,” “purpose,” and “sustainability.” Now, people management centers on the efforts of teams, and team leaders are charged with setting a strategy and delivering success. Here are seven proven methods that will help you improve your team or organizational bottom line?

1. Vision and mission. In The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey wrote: “Start with the end in mind.” What is it that you want? What is in it for others to follow you? There has to be something bigger than you that others can grasp, and buy-in too. 

Why does your organization exist? It is not to make money; that is a result.  Workers today want to work for organizations that can show a purpose or cause. Google‘s mission, for example, is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Today, Google dominates 75% of the U.S. online search market, so fulfilling its mission supports its overall success. 

2. Goals. Whether it’s to lose weight or exceed the sales forecast, most people start a new year with new goals. And then the goals go are set aside, not to be reviewed until someone asks. 

Put your goals on display so that you and your team can see them daily, because “out of sight” means “out of mind.” Keep your goals in front of the people you charge with accomplishing them, and ask them regularly about their progress toward those goals—preferably on a weekly basis. Ask them how they are doing and what can you do to make the goals easier to accomplish. Then, watch how your team responds.

3. Expectations. Only 30% of employees know what is expected of them in their work. Your goal is to get people to work and perform together. People will live up to or down to their own perceptions of your expectations. If they think you believe in their abilities and expect them to do well, they will do well. Remember, if people don’t know what you expect, don’t be surprised by what you get.

4. Feedback. High-performers crave your feedback, and but all employees want it to some extent. Positive feedback grows and negative feedback stifles.  Credit your employees or team members when they are doing the job right, and watch when they continue to do it. They will do more of what generates positive feedback. 

5. Treat everyone fairly, but not equally. All the people you work with are individuals, and although you need to treat each one fairly, that does not necessarily mean treating each one equally. They have different values, desires, backgrounds, experience, and skills, and it’s likely that most are at different stages of their individual careers. One size fits nobody. 

Great managers play chess, not checkers. In checkers, all of the pieces move in the same direction. In chess, all of the pieces move differently and a successful player knows and applies the differences among the pieces, and how to create a strategy that maximizes the moves for all of them.  Show your team members that you know their different strengths, and that you appreciate and care about them. Team members want to know that someone in the workplace cares about them. 

6. Provide tools and resources to do quality work. Most people don’t start the day thinking, “I think I will do a bad job today.” Most people want to do quality work, and you can encourage that by providing the tools and resources for them to do that. Ask your team what you can do to make their job easier. Reaffirm your commitment to and care for them. If they ask for a new widget maker, get it for them. If they say they don’t need anything, your response should be – “I guess I can expect quality work.” Take away any and all reasons people may use to explain failure. Leave a path to success.

7. Celebrate success. What do organizations do when they accomplish a goal? They move on to the next “big” thing. But, it is important to recognize the accomplishment and celebrate it with the team. Allow people to share the memory of what has been accomplished. Notes of recognition are important too. Write notes to thank people for what they have done and to acknowledge how have contributed to the team’s success. Don’t be surprised if they display it at their desk or work space.

These pillars will support teamwork, and they can help separate your organization from its competitors. If you are a team leader, these efforts can help you and your team stand out within any organization.  People working in organizations with purpose are much more likely to be promoters of their employers and managers. Not only will they come to do quality work, they are less likely to look for better places to work.

Jan Makela is the author of "Cracking the Code to Success" and "Be the Manager People Won’t Leave," for which he received the 2017 Quilly Award. He also is an executive coach, working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. He emphasizes strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners, and professionals.

About the Author

Jan Makela

Jan Makela is the author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave, for which he received the 2017 Quilly Award. He also is an executive coach, working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. He emphasizes strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners, and professionals. Contact him at LinkedIn, or visit www.StrengthBasedLeadership.net.