There is no good way to manage people (but we have to try anyway)
By Tron Jordheim
By Tron Jordheim
Nov. 15, 2013 — The best managers try hard to motivate and guide their people to meet
agreed-upon goals. Procedures, protocols and guidelines are put in place
to help keep things fair and organized. Feedback, motivation and
direction are given. But at the end of the day, good managers realize
that there is no good way to manage people. Since managing people is the key to any business success, you have to try anyway.
“People are people” the old saying goes. That means everyone brings
their own personal baggage with them to work. People make poor choices,
act rashly and defend their own comfort zones. People have agendas all
their own that often have nothing to do with the work agenda that you,
as the manager, are promoting.
Sometimes the selfish and petty
things people do are no surprise. Some employees repeat a behavior that
has been seen before many times if you let them. Infighting, jealousy,
jockeying for position and defending turf are pretty normal behaviors.
Sometimes the selfish and petty behavior is quite a surprise.
contrast, every workplace has people who perform well, take care of
themselves, are supportive of others on the team when needed and keep
below the radar.
The best managers try hard to motivate and
guide their people to meet agreed-upon goals. Procedures, protocols and
guidelines are put in place to help keep things fair and organized.
Feedback, motivation and direction are given. But at the end of the day,
good managers realize that there is no good way to manage people.
But since managing people is the key to any business success, you have to try anyway.
are many books on people management, and you may have practiced all the
different styles. If you boil down all the great people management
advice as much as you can, there are really only two things to do. One
is to make sure your staff is getting ongoing training, feedback,
correction and motivation for all their work-related behaviors. The
other thing you can do is to leave your people alone and let them work.
The trick is to know when to do which with each person.
Here are four ways you can try:
1. Best practices
to create models of best performance and best practices for employees
to learn, to copy and to aspire to. You can create goals, requirements
and performance thresholds to use as measurement tools. Be fair and
consistent in enforcing performance requirements and work rules and be
honest with them in your assessment of business conditions, in your
communication of company policies and your feelings about their
2. Know your people
Try to get to know
each of your people so you can find the right way to approach them,
motivate and correct each of them. Spend a little time with each of your
direct reports and encourage them to spend time with each of their
direct reports. Spending time together helps solidify team-work, helps
clarify any issues and helps to make sure you and your people are being
accountable to each other.
relying on email and memos; have personal conversations with the people
in your group. Allow your people to be honest with you. Spend at least a
little personal time with each person every month if you can. Learn to
be a good listener. You will learn a lot about how to deal with your
people if you hear what they say.
4. Leave well enough alone
managers feel that people can perform better and can produce more, but
if employees have found a comfortable and satisfactory balance it is
best not to disturb it. Resist the temptation to over mange them.
are times when your people just need to be left alone to do their jobs.
Some days you will work hard to mold people’s behavior and performance
when what they really needed was to be left alone to do their jobs. Some
days you will leave people alone when what they really needed was to be
working with someone. Try to ask yourself each day, who needs time from
me today? Ask yourself who needs to be left alone?
If you allow
yourself to admit that there is no good way to manage people, you can
do your company a lot of good by trying to be a better manager every
day. Work on best practices, get to know your people, communicate
personally, and above all leave well enough alone. If you try too hard
to manage people or if you go too far in attempting to manage behavior,
you’ll end up throwing your hands up in the air and declaring there is
no good way to manage people!
Tron Jordheim is the CMO of
StorageMart, one of the world's largest privately held self-storage
companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada. He has helped lead
the company to double-digit revenue growth for the last four years by
embracing digital marketing and call center support. Jordheim has
consulted for companies and spoken at trade events in the U.S., Canada,
the U.K., Spain and Mexico. Prior to StorageMart, Jordheim managed one
of Culligan Water's top U.S. bottled water franchises. With 40+ years of
experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought
after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant. For more
information, please visit http://www.tronjordheim.com.