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The Non-Secret of Successful Management
By Barton Goldsmith

Los Angeles Business Journal, 28/08/00

A business can turn to dust or to magic depending on the talent you rub it with.

What does it take to become a successful manager? The answer is simple. Start at the top, with total management commitment. Creating a "best practices" management program is a strategic process. Posters, slogans and seminars won't make it happen. How many companies do you know who talk about excellent management, but their skills (and bottom-line) don't match up to their words? Without a true commitment to strategic management, an individual or individuals, regardless of education, training and experience, can never hope to achieve excellence in management skills.

Valuable Lessons
Once the commitment is made, there are ways to raise the bar of management excellence. For example, the number one mistake is not complimenting employees Ñ often. Leaders (managers, executive staff, CEOs and owners) are celebrities to their staffs. A pat on the back can uplift and motivate your team to reach higher than ever. It is a simple task, but many managers hold back praise. They believe that being to "nice" will give team members permission to slack off. Quite the opposite is true. Studies at the UCLA's Anderson School of Management show that a little praise and recognition from an executive will create more motivation than money. Lesson: Publicly reward team members who have good ideas or perform beyond expectations.

Treat team members as you do your boss. Some managers, when they are promoted, let their insecurity get the best of them and begin to lead by intimidation. Excellent managers create a team where staff members feel valued and equal. The pay off is more energy, respect and a greater desire to work together, not to mention the bottom-line results. Lesson: Eliminate the word, employee, use staff or team member, and treat them as such.

Don't worry about who's right...worry about what's right. The first step in problem solving is to find out what the real problem is. Great managers ask themselves if they are part of the problem. Facing the issue and gaining awareness are the next two steps. When blame is cast, learn to look at the blamers. What are they pretending not to know? Lesson: Don't believe the blamers. Get the whole story before making a decision.

Lead by example. It's more valuable than advice. The three most important aspects to Leadership are: Example, Example, and Example. If the leaders are apathetic or condescending, that attitude will flow through the entire company. The results are poor performance and ultimately a decrease in profits. Leaders need to roll up their sleeves and join forces with the Team. For example, consider the example set by Herb Kellerhern of Southwest Airlines who is known for loading luggage on Thanksgiving or that of Andy Grove of Intel, whose office is a cubicle like the rest of the staff. Those teams rise to the occasion. Lesson: Always act as you think these (or your) chairman would act - no matter what the situation is.

The Dynamics of Support: Building an Effective Team
In today's marketplace it's very rare to find any success story that doesn't involve partnership or teamwork. Even on the rare occasion of a one-person operation climbing to the top, you'll usually find that person having some sort of strong support, be it financial, emotional or spiritual. The business economy is becoming more complex and global in nature. The simple truth is: we need each other. The deeper truth is: we need to deal with each other. There are many common albeit unnecessary mistakes made in a few basic areas that if dealt with or approached from a different and more creative angle could heal most problems in today's workplace. The dynamics that go on inside most companies are incredible. They include everything ranging from highly productive yet excessively angry, back biting co-workers (a poisonous environment) to the other end of the scale, a too laid back, unorganized workplace, where deadlines are missed because nobody wants to "be the bad guy". Both scenarios are losing propositions because resentment usually takes over and decays the infrastructure. Coaches, mentors and connected team members are a necessity to create and sustain a winning company.

Reward and Recognition
Thank you. These are the two most important words in the English language. Yet many people are absolutely oblivious to thanking others for the magnificent jobs they do day in and day out. It is simply astounding. What's even more astonishing is that most people not only don't recognize others, they don't recognize themselves and the contributions they make to their companies.

Perhaps people have confused fame with recognition, and the result is that only the famous (like Bill Gates and Martha Stewart) are recognized. But who are the heroes you encounter on an every day basis? How about the HR manager who juggles 150 personalities, not to mention the reams of paperwork attached to that many employees? What about the PR team that makes your company simply shine in numerous press releases, brochures and sometimes speaking engagements? Or the engineers who literally knock themselves out figuring out a solution to a software problem, one that could fold your company, but one that will never even be a concern for you because those everyday wizards take care of it "all in a days work"?

As human beings, as professionals, people need to be recognized. In a world where there is so much media attention and globalization, it's all too common for so many to go un-rewarded. Your people, the people you work with side-by-side everyday need to know that they are valued. That goes beyond the standard paycheck at the end of the week. Think about it. When it comes down to it, as an employer you simply rent your employees time, they give you their hearts. You don't own them. Renting time may not sound like such a big deal until you realize it is the single most precious commodity in the world and our time on earth. Ask anyone who has lost their spouse whether they'd prefer $50,000 salary for another year or one more day with the life partner who has been taken away from them.

Recognition, appreciation and reward are crucial to survival in the marketplace today. It is simply good business. A pat on the back or a mention of thanks can literally move mountains in the working world. Most people are hard working, capable, and take pride in the work they do. Loyalty has to be earned. To earn it, effective managers have to acknowledge a job well done. Productivity rises for teams that are rewarded for the work they do. It's a simple fact. Your bottom line increases with a team that feels appreciated.

Recognition need not be fancy or formal. Try it! Write a glowing letter of recommendation on company letterhead to reward a valued employee. Leave a small note of thanks on someone's desk or in their mailbox to lift them in ways you may never imagine. Even a thank-you note on the back of a business card can work wonders.

Recognition also keeps communication open, which again is your lifeline to your staff. Silence can be easily misinterpreted. How many cases have resulted in an upper level management executive losing his or her right hand man simply because of the lack of communication? Think about it. If a valued staff member never hears word one, good nor bad, about the quality of his or her work, the assumption is likely to that the individual is not pleasing his or her boss and that his or her work is unsatisfactory. What's likely to happen is that the individual will become frustrated and an easy target for recruitment by a rival company.

That's why it's important to keep communication alive and vibrant with your staff. Attack problems when they arise. Trust your intuition. If you "feel" like there is a white elephant in the room no one is talking about, talk about it. Open the lines of communication, and stay in touch with your staff's needs and desires. Foster an atmosphere of cooperation, and give credit where credit is due. In return, you will have a team that will go the extra hundred miles for you, and the returns will be tenfold. Remember, when you are passionate about their involvement and contributions, there will be no limit to the success you can achieve.


Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., has started, grown and sold 3 companies. He is a highly sought after keynote speaker, business consultant, and author, who presents to numerous companies, associations and leaders worldwide. He works regularly with The Young President’s Organization (YPO), The Executive Committee (TEC) and The Council of Growing Companies. Dr. Goldsmith writes for the Los Angeles Business Journal, and is a contributing author to over 70 business publications and trade journals. He can be contacted through his web site at: www.BartonGoldsmith.com or at (818) 879-9996









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