Common Sense Management #2

The last post about this topic we discussed management issues regarding training, talent, and common sense. In this post we’ll look at some common sense principles regarding hiring, people, team work, communication, delegation, performance, and conflict. You will probably see some things that are “no brainers” but, applying these is where the “rubber meets the road”.

“Measure Twice, Cut Once”
If you’ve ever done wood work, this is a common phrase. The application is to double check yourself before you commit to a final cut. If you have measured wrong then you’ll have to discard the wood and get another piece to start all over again. This same principle applies in hiring. Too often we rush the process in order to fill a spot. When you rush a hire you run the risk of getting the wrong person for the job.

I encountered this very thing when hiring for a position that I had open for over 6 months. I was “feeling” desperate and needed to get a warm body quickly because projects were piling up. Well, long story short, I hired someone who turned out to be the wrong fit and caused issues with the entire department. Had I heeded this common sense principle I would have spared myself and my team a lot of grief. Take the time to measure the potential employee, double check before you extend a final offer.

Past Behavior Is a Predictor
Promoting from the inside is not a bad practice depending on what the business situation is. Granted, sometimes you might need new blood to stir things up but, more often than not promoting from within is a good common sense practice.

When looking at employees for promotion evaluate their past behavior and performance. Past behavior is a predictor of future behavior. If an employee cuts corners, common sense says that moving this person into a manager role will not change this behavior. If anything, this behavior will cause more issues at a senior level than it did in the previous position. The poor behavior is intensified. If you feel an employee has leadership capabilities, give them short term projects that put them in a leaderdship role. Watch how they handle people and the project. The key here is not to let them know they are being watched — we all put our “best foot forward” when we’re under the microscope. If an employee shows consistent integrity and responsibility over time and they have good relationships with other staff, then this might be your person for promotion. Remember, past behavior can be a future predictor for future behavior.

People Over Process
Your biggest asset in any organization is your people. Yet, you won’t believe how many employees in companies are treated second-rate and taken for granted. Most managers focus on things rather than ideas but, it all starts with ideas. Ideas come from people. Focus on managing ideas if you want to take your company to the next level.

Creativity is directly tied to ideas and all people are creative. If you mine for creativity you experience innovation and that opens the door to all kinds of business and operational improvements. The manager and leader that understands this will hang onto his employees. The manager that does not understand that their people come first will lose ideas and eventually, their people. Common sense says, treat people the way you want to be treated and value them over things.

Go Team Go
The simple truth is, you can never accomplish with one person what you can accomplish with a team. A common sense principle is to form teams where members compensate for one another’s weaknesses. Then let the team be part of the goal setting process. Who is not motivated when they are included as part of the brainstorming and goal setting for an initiative?

Myron Rush said it well–

Each team member has four key needs that must be met by fellow team members. These needs are: to use one’s skills to assist the team effort, to be accepted as part of the team, to have personal goals compatible with team goals, and to represent people and groups outside the team. These needs must be met in order for a person to feel they’re making a meaningful contribution to the team.

Let’s Talk About It
Another key principle is communication. Clear, consistent, and constant commuication. Communication is the life-blood of every organization and team. Without it relationships die. But, wait, weren’t we talking about communication? What do relationships have to do with it? Relationships are foundational to and a by-product of communication. Try not talking to your co-workers, your friends, your children, your spouse and see what happens. Or, like we so often do at work, try talking to them every now and then with minimal feedback and depth of conversation. Get the picture? Not a pretty sight, huh?

Common sense says, “sure communication is hard and there are often barriers” but the speaker and the listener both have a role to play. The speaker must know what they want to say and to say it clearly, accurately, and simply. The listener needs to listen attentively to the words and the message behind the words. Both need to be slow to speak and keen to listen objectively. We all want to be heard, so take time to learn to listen first. Only then will relationships and organizations grow and mature.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Every manager needs to learn to delegate more often. You cannot do it all and you cannot do it by yourself (see Go Team Go above). To be effective in delegating, pick the right person to take the responsibility — remember past behavior is a predictor. If you do no learn to delegate, you are no more than a worker yourself and not a manager. Come on, this is common sense. You cannot maintain control over every little aspect. Entrust key projects to key people and set the expectations and boundaries then move on to do your job.

“Howa’ You Doin’?”
Yes, Joey used this as a pick-up line in Friends, yet the question is relevant to us all in regard to work. We often have exasperating thoughts when it comes to performance evaluation. Why? Could it be the process is ineffectual? Often, managers evaluate on the past. What good does that do since you cannot change past failures? Do you like being evaluated this way yourself? It is a common sense principle to check and evaluate as you go. Evaluate the performance of the employee as they are working on or finishing up a project. This should be an open time of learning for you both. The employee can learn from you what they did well and what they need improvement on and you can learn from the employee what you did well and need improvement on. Don’t be so arrogant, since you’re the boss, to think that you know it all. With this kind of ongoing performance evaluation everybody wins.

My Way or The Highway
No company is immune to conflict and no one likes dealing with it. Those who say they have no problem dealing with conflict usually fire offending parties and move on. Not a good practice. You, as a manager, may be having a bad day and say or do something you regret. Do you want to be let go or given another opportunity?

It is easy to put off dealing with issues that arise but, the fact is we need to hit them head on. We should not dance around the subject, but work on it and work through it. Make sure you have all the facts and try to remain neutral as you listen attentively to all sides. A screaming tirade does nothing but distance yourself and put up barriers. Treat all parties with respect and try to handle conflict privately and in a mature professional manner. Remember, people are your greatest resource.

Common Sense Management
As you can see from all the principles above, common sense is often asking yourself to look at business from another’s perspective: owner, boss, employee, vender, partner, or customer. It is not hard to know what to do but, it is often hard to apply. Think of it as a journey and set off on the path today–one step at a time.

Related Link
Common Sense Management #1
Grow Your Network And Make Your Contacts Work For You
Web Design – Dealing With Client Personalities
Common Sense Carrots

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