… All you need is honesty, integrity, communication, confidence, and a spine. Some of these rules apply to school boards,  some don’t. But I thought this is a good time to share something I’ve had for many years…

Steve Smith’s Rules for Successful Management

Invite input from the lowest levels of your organization. Years ago in a different career, I spent a lot of time with retail buyers and a lot of time in their stores. The most valuable feedback on my products came not from the corporate office but from the people who were on the sales floor selling and assisting customers.

Talk it up. Everyone in your organization should know everything that is going on, except due to obvious restrictions. When people know the plan, they are far more likely to support it. One of my biggest supporters at the ad agency where I worked for nine years was the CFO. Why? Because I was in charge of a big budget and I communicated issues with him frequently.

Hire slow, fire fast. I didn’t make up this rule, but I support it. One of the hardest things for a manager to do is admit that they made a bad hire. But the alternative, keeping the bad hire around, is far worse than a temporary blow to the ego. The upside of this is that when the bad hire leaves, there is an immediate morale boost.

Admit mistakes, and admit them early. By the time you realize you screwed up, others know it, too. Right the wrong and gain respect by owning the problem and fixing it. Denial lowers respect for you and lowers morale. Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

Stay on budget. Be an adult and live within your means.

Stop watching the competition. Every minute you watch the competition is one less minute you spend improving your own business. Let them watch you instead.

Set the example. You cannot possibly expect people to do as you say, not as you do.

Appreciate your team. Contrary to popular belief, money is number four on the list of what most workers want. The first three are:

The belief that their work is making a difference
The belief that their work is appreciated
More time off

When someone does something good, most of the time, all you need to do is acknowledge it.

Share the credit and take the blame. You’re a manager. You get paid extra to lead, not to grandstand when times are good or blame others when mistakes are made.

Make continuous improvement your most important goal. Whether it is improving people, products, services or systems, continuous improvement is the most important thing you have to accomplish each day. Complacency is your enemy and it will destroy your organization.

Think ahead. As a manager, you are supposed to plan weeks, months, or years ahead. If you are not doing this, perhaps you need to:

Learn effective delegating. I’ve seen too many managers who like to wallow in minutia and “to do” lists because it makes them feel useful. When you delegate, you free yourself to start the powerful process of critical thinking.

Communicate professionally. Do not gossip, finger-point, use innuendo, or any of the other amateurish tactics weak managers use to endear themselves to staff. Doing so only fosters more of the same, and if you think you’re immune to staff gossip, think again – they’ll be talking about you, too.

Stop with the meetings, already.

Let your team screw up. This also means stop micromanaging. It’s amazing how much people can accomplish when they don’t have management over their shoulder every minute. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes. But from my experience, I’ll take the liberated team over the oppressed team in a heartbeat.

Spend time with your family. Successful managers also manage their home lives, too. I don’t care who you are, who employs you, or how well you do your job… One day, you’ll be gone. But your family is forever.

Do your best, everyday. If you do your best everyday, you will earn respect, recognition, and admiration and greatly reduce the chances you will ever be unemployed.

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