Management Success Tip #43: Terrific Managers Are Made, Not Born

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Many are worried that as the Boomers retire from the workplace, there will be a dearth of nose-to-the-grindstone, driven, work-comes-first managers. And that may be true. The Boomers are probably the last generation willing to sacrifice family, friends, hobbies, and a balanced life for their place in the corporate sun.

However, the upcoming GenXers, next in line for leadership positions, can take the place of the outgoing Boomers if they are properly supported to do that.

What is proper support for a GenXer?

1. Lots of opportunities for learning.

GenXers respect leaders who have genuine knowledge and expertise. As leaders, they want that for themselves. Give those GenXers you hope to promote to managerial positions dedicated training time in the various functions they’ll need to know about.

2. A good Boomer mentor.

Lots of Boomers want to pass on the knowledge they’ve gained through their long careers. Pair up your GenXer future leaders with willing Boomers. Tell both of them to set aside their criticisms of how the other does whatever, and instead, focus on the job at hand. The Boomer’s is to show how he or she manages, and the GenXer’s is to absorb as much of that management expertise as possible.

Obviously, you can’t “make” a terrific manager out of a shiftless, uncooperative employee. But you certainly can give a willing, engaged GenXer the support and skills he or she requires to become the dynamite manager your business deserve.

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Management Success Tip #42: Don’t Substitute Cheerleading for Problem-Solving!

It may seem like a terrific motivational idea to rah-rah your employees into productivity and performance. After all, how many movies have you seen where “You can do it!” is the battle cry that wins the day?

Real life, however, isn’t so simple. Sure, cheerleading your team is important. You must believe in your employees’ ability to deliver the goods, but don’t stop there.

If, for example, you’re met with silence, or half-hearted “Yeah, ok, sure Boss” after your rousing “You can do it!” speech, don’t think that means everyone is on board. It probably means they most certainly aren’t!

Be people-savvy. Ask questions like “I’m sensing some hesitation here. What’s up?” Probe with more questions like “Is this deadline unrealistic?” or “Is there something about this project that seems too challenging?”

When your employees voice their objections, fears or concerns, listen to them! Take their issues seriously. Start the problem-solving process with questions like “Is there another way we could go about this project that would allow us to meet our objectives?” “What resources do you need for us to stay on track?” “Is there some other project we need to backburner for a while to get this one out?”

Cheerleading your “troops” is great and valuable. Just don’t make it the only tool in your employee performance-enhancing tool-box.

Management Success Tip #41: Hog The Kudos, Lose Good Employees

When a company receives a compliment from a customer, or an account lets you know just how much your company’s efforts have contributed to their success, it’s natural to accept the kudo with pride, and thank the consumer in return.

Too often, though, that’s where it ends. The department, team, or employee primarily responsible for the product or service that resulted in the customer’s happiness isn’t told of the kudo. Their efforts are taken for granted—after all, they’re just doing their job, right?

Right. And wrong. Your best employees are never “just doing their job.” Your best employees are engaged, involved, enthusiastic and eager to contribute to your success—as long as you contribute to their success.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to share the good stuff! When a kudo comes in, share that overt mark of success with all those who contributed to it. Make a big deal of it! Tell your employees how proud you are of them. Spread the news company-wide that Team A received a terrific kudo for the bang-up job they did on Project Z.

And if you feel so inspired, offer a free lunch or afternoon off, or whatever would cement for your kudo-ed employees that they are never taken for granted, and that you always recognize and value their efforts.

Management Success Tip #40: Beyond Instant Gratification: What if the Millennials Were Right?

Much has been made of the “me-me-me” ethic of the Millennials, as if that were all there is to this generation. People (especially Boomers) decry the Millennials’ selfishness and demand for immediate gratification.

But if you just look a hair beyond the surface of the Millennials’ “I want it and I want it now!!” you may find something very valuable for your business.

And that is, the true value of “Now!”

Social media has propelled our world into warp speed. Business is expected to keep up with consumer preferences and to deliver solutions to consumer problems at that same speed.

Yikes! That may seem near impossible, yet the Millennials, with their willingness to jump into new things with enthusiasm and creativity, are the very ones who can help businesses respond at social media speed.

In the recent Southwest Airlines debacle, where a computer glitch caused massive billing errors during what was supposed to be a terrific Facebook promotion, Southwest responded almost as quickly as the social media blasted the error all over the web. And SWA used social media to let people know why the problem happened and how they were handling it—along with appropriate apologies and immediate fixes.

Southwest may or may not have taken a page from the Millennials’ playbook in their response, but one thing is sure: your Millennial employees can help you brainstorm need-it-now ideas and solutions. Now!