Management Success Tip #83: Give Your Micro-Managing Self A Break: Empower Your Employees!

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It’s tempting, when you’re faced with an under-performing employee, to jump in with both feet and micro-manage them – not only instructing them exactly how a job should be done, but involving yourself in the minutae of the how and when of every step along the way.

Necessary as you may feel this is, Amy Arnstein, professor of neuroscience at Yale University, tells us you’re actually decreasing your worker’s cognitive functioning  when you micro-manage, as it inevitably lowers workers’ ability to perform. The math is obvious: if your worker can’t think at their best, there’s no way he or she will perform at their best.

You see, from the time we are two years old, most of us want to “do it myself!” It gives us the sense of being in control, and people thrive when they feel some measure of control over whatever is going on in their lives.

Of course, you can’t tell an employee struggling with a performance issue “Just do whatever you want,” that’s a recipe for disaster. What you can do, is provide clear guidance, make sure the employee has understood what is expected and how to achieve the desired outcome, and then back off.

Give your worker permission to ask you questions any time, and honor that permission. Assign a co-worker as “buddy” if appropriate. Provide a checklist of the necessary or desired steps. Then leave them to it.

You’ve given your employee a sense of control over their work, which will almost always increase their level of confidence, and with it, their ability to perform at their best.


Management Success Tip #82: Halt the Invisible Money Drain of Meetings: Get Efficient!

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Let’s see, for an average meeting: twelve participants, one hour each, comes to whatever their salary breaks down to for an hour, times twelve. Oh, and then there’s the hour each participant is not doing their usual job. So multiply that total by two.

And it’s not like you only hold one meeting a week.

Yikes! You’d better be getting a lot of great results out of those meetings!

Cause it’s not like you don’t need the creativity that is proven to come out of people thinking together, brainstorming, and collaborating. You most definitely do. But what you need in addition to that creativity, is an effective way to generate it, without unnecessarily draining your business of dollars or manpower.

How? Easy:

1. Whatever information will be the topic of discussion should be sent out to everyone in advance.

2. Whatever questions are to be discussed should be sent out as well.

3. Assume that everyone has digested the information, is ready to discuss the questions, and start the meeting with the discussion.

4. Keep everyone on topic, and don’t allow rambling or discussion outside of the topic.

Those workers who don’t read the information, etc., ahead of the meeting, will quickly realize they’re out of the loop, because you don’t coddle them by reiterating the information previously sent out.

If you hold true to these guidelines,  your meetings will be shorter and more efficient, which is better for all concerned – and your business pocketbook.

Management Success Tip #81: Don’t Let Your Workers Jump Ship: Let Them Know They Matter!

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Most of us spend more of our waking hours at work, or working, than at any other single activity. Often at more than all of our other activities put together. So the fact that New York’s Conference Board shows that over 50% of Americans today hate their jobs, is painful, to say the least.

A clear reflection of the fact is that according to the U.S. Labor Department, 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February of 2012, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession.

People aren’t quitting because they’re happy. People are quitting, overwhelmingly, because they don’t believe their managers are interested in their well-being.

You know that you don’t set out to make your employees unhappy! You set out to make your business successful, but in the process, often it’s your employees who get the short end of the stick.

It’s too easy to assume employees will work for their paychecks, and forget that workers need more than a fair wage.

Your employees need to know, directly and personally, that they matter, that they count, that they are important to you and to the business.

Genuine, specific positive feedback given on an immediate basis is priceless. Asking an employee what their personal career goals are, and doing the best you can to support those goals is invaluable. Catching your employee in the act of doing something right motivates better than all the rah-rah speeches in the world.

Be mindful of the deep-seated need we all have to be acknowledged and appreciated, and your employees will be motivated to do their very best for you.

Management Success Tip #80: Construct a Successful Praise Sandwich: Be Specific!

Giving negative feedback is rarely a manager’s idea of a good time. Most managers will avoid doing so, until things get so bad it’s unavoidable, which only makes the interaction that much more painful.

So when the idea of a “praise sandwich” came along, it seemed like a really good idea.

You start by saying something positive to your underperforming employee, like “You’ve been doing a great job,” then tuck in the problem, “But you turn in your work half-finished” and slap on a positive ending; “I know you’ll do better now.”

Fat chance! As Ayelet Fishbach, professor at the University of Chicago, has demonstrated in her research, people’s take-away from the praise sandwich is “I’m doing just great.”

With that, managers have been tempted to throw away the praise sandwich and just go with the criticism. But that doesn’t work so well, either.

The praise sandwich works beautifully, in terms of helping workers improve their performance, when it is specific. That’s the key. Specificity.

For example: “You made a good beginning with Project X, and I need you to complete the rest of it with the same thoroughness. Review your guidelines for this project and follow them carefully. I appreciate your cooperation.”

It’s still a praise sandwich – positive followed by negative topped off with positive – but it’s specific to the task at hand, not general. Such specificity may take more effort on your part, but it will generate far better results.

Management Success Tip #79: Make Sure Your “Smart, Bright And Quick” Adds Up To Success!

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You’re smart, bright and quick—and totally annoyed that you have to work with people obviously not as with-it as you are.

Get over yourself! Unless you’re a one-man/woman-act, you must work with other people in order to get things done. As irritating as others may be to you, you won’t succeed until and unless you learn to work with them.

You might start by deliberately recognizing that with few exceptions, everyone has good qualities and talents. Set your fine mind to sussing out what those qualities and talents are. Learn to work with what is best in each of your co-workers or colleagues, rather than griping about what’s the worst in them.

Smarts and speed aren’t the only assets in a business. Resilience, tenaciousness, willingness to go the extra mile, consideration of others, humor, attention to detail, and a whole host of other attributes contribute to the success of any enterprise.

Quit listening only to your own thoughts and ideas. Tune in to how others view a project, let their thoughts spur yours further. Cultivate interaction as a platform for improvement, for the generation of new and better ideas.

Yes, you’re smart, bright and quick. Terrific! Open yourself up to what others have to offer and you’ll be twice as effective as your all-by-my-lonesome could ever be.