People say a lot of things about management, but there is one thing you hardly ever hear - that it's an easy job.
Learn from 35 Business Experts and Successful Entrepreneurs about Management
In this Mads Singers Expert Roundup, 35 successful business owners and entrepreneurs share how they incorporated the most important management lessons they learned
Many of today’s business owners and entrepreneurs started as learners. The common perception of learning about “Effective Management” is by having a good management degree or education when, in essence, it may be an advantage but not entirely a requirement as life sways us so.
Management is not entirely complicated; by putting those learned lessons about management into practice, growing and scaling your business will become easier.
We reached out to 35 Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs to ask them the question:
What Do You Feel is the Number 1 Most Important Management Lesson That You Have Learned?
Know your strengths and the strengths of your team.
As a manager, keep things on your plate that you excel at and that push the business forward. Take the areas of the business that you're not best at and delegate them to someone else that is great in those areas. The more you tap into the knowledge of your team and keep your own time focused on where you add the most value, the faster your business will grow, the happier you will collectively be as a team, and the more impact you'll see coming from your organization.
Take care of your team and the team will take care of your business.
From leading numerous teams of all shapes, sizes and cultures, I've realized it all comes down to taking care of your team. If this is done well, they will take care of your business. These are the people you've invited and trusted to come into your work "home". They need to know the rules of the house and be given feedback both positive and negative so they can be their "best" selves. You need to allow them to fail and succeed. You need to guide them and encourage them. When your team feels taken care of - financially, emotionally and professionally, not only will they not have a reason to leave, but they will be loyal. At the end of the day, most people deep down want to feel they are a part of something bigger than just themselves and are bringing value as well as growing along the way. If they feel they are part of a "bigger" purpose/vision and understand the valuable part they are playing, their behavior and work performance will definitely reflect that.
Defining a set of principles that serve as the foundation for your own and your teams' decision making may be the most crucial piece of work you ever do. It took me nine-years to define my own clear, well-communicated and continuously reinforced set of guiding principles for my organization. From the moment I did, everything changed. My team went from a group who'd weigh on me when problems arose to a ruthless team of independent thinkers solving complex issues, acting decisively on their own. Introducing a set of guiding principles (and displaying them everywhere) taught my team how to act. And, when your team know how to act, they need very little management at all.
I'm personally really excited about the future of work, and the shifts that are happening and will continue to happen in the way we run organizations. So for me, the most important lesson I've learned over the last years is that the old "management" techniques no longer work. Instead of clinging to them, we should become vision champions and someone our teams *want* to follow. We should ensure that our teams are aligned, and understand and work towards the same goals. We should aim to inspire, empower and motivate our team members. Strive to stay innovative and "lean". Instead of focusing on micromanaging, we should work to remove the obstacles that prevent our team members from succeeding. Hire smarter people than us, and get out of their way. And help our team members hone their own leadership skills, so we can all build together organizations that last and do good. I believe we're all better off if we do or at least attempt to do the above.
Leadership does not come from the position but the skills and mindset a person has. SEO Hacker is nearing a decade since its establishment and I've learned a lot from being the CEO since the start. I used to believe that since I was the CEO, people would naturally follow my actions and words. But that wasn't the case. Team members have their own beliefs and ideas, and when a leader's actions and ideas do not conform with theirs, dissent is sure to follow. I learned that leadership is present in everyone. Others just learn to prioritize and nurture their leadership capabilities - not relying on their position alone. Adding value to your team members, allowing everyone to be heard, setting the goal and convincing the team that we should work as one body to hit that goal are some of the aspects that make a truly great leader. I've been leading SEO Hacker for a decade and I still believe that my leadership potential still hasn't reached its cap. I make sure to learn from every experience and consequently adapt to unexpected situations. Again, leadership isn't the position. It's the person. Positional leadership is a temporary, ineffective way to lead. This is why I'm an avid reader of books that teach me how to become a more effective and better leader. I suggest all managers and leaders do the same.
Our tag line, "Think Conversation, Not Campaign" doesn't just apply to our marketing mantra. It also applies to my management style. Many managers or leaders think team members only "DO." It's all about delegation and doing. However, for me, it's more about having open lines of communication and constant conversation about how our team needs support, how they can support me, and letting them weigh in on the future of B Squared Media. When people feel like they "own" something, they're far more likely to be engaged. That's important for me and our team, and I think we do a good job of looking at everyone beyond just what they DO.
Take as much time as you need to explain things and teach what you know. Too often it could be tempting to rush the onboarding of a new teammate/employee, skip some steps or brush over some concepts. But all the time that seems to have been saved during the process will create knowledge gaps that compound over time.
It's basically like the old adage: "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime". I find this is the single most important thing to keep in mind when managing people, especially on roles you have deep experience with or even roles you've held in the past.
Play people to their strengths and give them space to breath, be creative and give feedback. Whilst you may be the entrepreneur, you're going to need a team to help you execute big and bold dreams and goals. In order to get people to work to their full potential you want to ensure they are happy, feel valued and heard. Ask them from day one, what do they enjoy doing? Where do they feel they can help and what would they like to contribute? It makes for a more collaborative workplace rather than just having people do shit for you.
Personally, I believe that in order to manage a team properly (whether yourself, or a manager) systems and processes NEED to be in place. Most people underestimate the value of having processes and the word "SOPs" get thrown around all the time, without having much importance placed on them.
"Done is better than perfect" most of the time. Having a process that works 80% of the way is better than having none in place. The key is continuing to refine these processes, stress-testing for scaling purposes and constantly enforcing them.
This is crucial to ensure you can build a successful team that works on a "systems mindset" that can be easily managed by key employees (or the business owner).
Find great people and let them do what they do best. While you need to agree targets with your team, and check in regularly to ensure they have everything they need and are on track, otherwise I leave people to conduct their work in the way they prefer. I don't mind what hours they work or where - I'm more interested in output than input. By avoiding micromanagement I find that people feel more free to use their own initiative, come up with creative ideas, enjoy their work more (so are more likely to want to continue working with you), and even work harder. I trust that I've hired brilliant people, and I give them the freedom to work at their best for me. To be it's a win-win scenario.
You must tailor your management style and approach to each person, institutional processes, and the system resources you have. I've assisted over 200 organizations digitally transform their businesses and the most important management lesson I've learned is this... there is no silver bullet and the solution for every organization is going to be very different based on your resources, strengths, weaknesses, and competition. Talent and motivation are different for every employee. Processes are uniquely tailored for each company. And platforms that work for one organization will fail miserably for the next. It's critical that managers take all internal resources as well as the institutional knowledge of their team into consideration when attempting to move their company forward. Change is often something that managers are resistant to, but not improving is the equivalent of failure in this competitive world. Removing roadblocks must include changing personnel, changing processes, and changing platforms. It's not compassionate to keep people in positions that they will not succeed in or are that are holding the company back. It's not efficient to change processes without fully understanding the downstream impact of every decision. And leveraging technology to overcome challenges only works if that technology is the best possible solution for your organization.
Managers must have great communication skills to thrive. One-off messages and misinterpretations ruin relationships. It's more important than ever that managers know how to communicate effectively with their teams on both the tactical and strategic levels.
Where someone starts is nowhere near as important as how quickly they progress. If people make new and different mistakes because they are trying to better themselves and are expanding their scope in a way that is useful that is great. But if people fail to follow directions and keep making the same mistakes over again while consistently seeking feedback on what the absolute minimum is, they should be quickly let go.
There's a world of difference between a person who cares about outcomes and one who just wants to know precisely where the bottom rung is & do just enough to not get fired. Teach people exactly what you want them to do and give them room to improve upon it. If they grow and make new mistakes while learning and doing better that is great. If they keep repeating the same mistakes and are stubborn or lazy quickly fire them.
In previous work experience, I always had a VP of Sales that I worked with. Without that, I had to hire, fire until I finally figured out how to onboard and manage sales people. I learned not all sales people can perform when working from home so it’s important to know the characteristics of those who can if you offer this option. I learned salespeople need significant support – marketing materials, defined territories, clear description of target customers, and more. They also need to be held accountable on a WEEKLY basis through tracking – how many calls, how many visits, how many follow-ups, etc. They also need to have goals to attain. Furthermore, healthy competition is superb motivation for salespeople so it’s important to post each individual’s achievement vs. the goal. Once I understood and implemented this, my sales took off.
Believe the data, doubly so if you pulled it yourself. This requires massive amounts of self-awareness and getting comfortable being uncomfortable, especially with change, especially when the data tells you something that opposes your emotional investments.
Watch the video to learn more.
Use time-saving methods when you can.
For example, I let the Missinglettr service create my social media content. (Here is detailed information about Missinglettr: https://www.mostlyblogging.com/missinglettr/.)
I use my family members who are knowledgeable, readily available and don't charge. For example, my daughter is my consultant and my husband is my business manager. Both are experienced in those areas.
Stay regimented. Allot pockets of time in your day every day to get your necessary tasks done and stick to that schedule no matter what else comes up.
The most important management lesson for me was to qualify a recruit before you hire them AND having those hard conversations when they make a mistake or you feel like there was a misunderstanding. Carefully looking at everything from the time it takes them to respond, how hungry they are, what drives them, time availability and personal commitments (especially if they'll be working from home). Understanding their why is very important because the last thing you want is someone who's just there to make some cash and move on. You want someone who is passionate about what they'll do. Dig deeper into what they say and don't just settle with the first answer they give you. I've hired a few people who seemed to be hungry and motivated but then flaked after only a few weeks. That's why I now qualify them hard so I can work with them easily.
Give the members on your team PURPOSE. Your company and brand must be bigger than completing TASKS. Do you have a mission that you're trying to accomplish that people can rally behind and support? That is what drives people to work hard and for it to feel like a team effort instead of a boss to employee relationship.
The most important management lesson I have learned over the years is that empathy trumps all else. As a driven individual I push myself hard. I've learned that when I do that without taking into account the people doing the real work, nothing works as well and people burn out. It's much more important to understand the person, their goals and dreams and fears, and to help them be successful as much as possible within our company.
Utilize your time and attention in a purposeful manner. Whether you are scheduling time to market and build your network, do the work of your business, administrate the business, connect with family and friends, or practice self-care, have an intention for your time and attention. When tasks, people, or activities do not fit your purpose assign those tasks, people, or activities to other others on your direct or extended team. When you understand the purpose of your time and attention, it is easier to focus and block out distractions. Additionally, you will feel less guilty about the time you take for yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Finally, it will help you to build a direct and extended team that serves to strengthen your business and add to its value.
The most important management lesson I've learned is to be open to feedback from everyone around you. Those around you have insights and perspectives that you can't see when you are in the middle of everything and engrossed in your business. Don't take what they say personal or as criticism but stop, reflect, and address what they recommend or feel. This approach has helped me to better manage all types of relationships -- employees and remote teams, colleagues, investors, business partners, and even those outside of my work life.
My number 1 tip is open communication. Communication is key to successfully managing a team. You need to be able to communicate clearly with your team and be available for them to communicate with you. Having regular short team meetings, allow you to build a strong foundation and encourage on-going communication especially in virtual teams. Using apps such as Slack or Voxer also help in maintaining regular communication.
Rewarding, complementing, and generally reinforcing anyone for doing a "good job" comes in many forms. You need to understand their "love language" - many times it isn't just cash or a bonus... it may just be that they want to feel like they have contributed meaningfully.
When you’re struggling to get your team to meet your expectations, oftentimes it’s not that they lack the skill but rather that you as a leader have not been able to clearly communicate the vision. Focus on how you can better communicate and get buy-in for your vision on an emotional level rather than just intellectually.
It is impossible to lead a company without leveraging your staff to work independent from you.
Take your time to explain things thoroughly. I've found that the reason many people "failed" wasn't because they were incapable of doing the task I assigned -- it was because I didn't fully explain what I wanted to have done.
Take your time, think through the problem and the solution that you are looking for, and clearly communicate it. Give your team a chance to wow you by making your expectations and desired outcome very clear.
They just might surprise you.
You must have a clear vision for your mission. When you can clearly and powerfully articulate your vision to the world then the right people will start showing up to support you in fulfilling the vision.
Most people don't hold a powerful enough vision in their mind so if you can attract amazing talent to work with you and you are able to paint a clear picture of where your company is headed then you will inspire your team to commit in the completion of your dream with you.
Effective management is all about goals and accountability. Managers must communicate clear goals and have mechanisms in place to hold staff accountable to results. Managers should be prepared to provide rewards and punishment for attainment of goals.
Delegation is the key to progress and sanity. It's difficult as leaders to feel comfortable delegating but you have to get in the habit of it if you want your business to grow. You have to put trust into your team and empower them to make decisions on behalf of the business. Your employees need to feel valuable as individuals and as contributors to your organization. When they feel like their voice and opinion matter, that is when their best output will happen.
The number one lesson I have learned is that I need to create a culture where employees are able to leave work at work and not take it home either mentally or physically. Employees will perform better when there are work-life boundaries that can be established and honored. These boundaries allow employees to give the best of themselves to their personal lives and to their jobs.
To feed mindset and motivational content to team members, crew, or employees.
It's important to not forget that they have their own life journey outside of any job. So motivate them in both life and work related lessons to keep their energy and joy up. Their personal journey and career is the most important thing in life. Not the bosses plan for them.
For my virtual team, I regularly make them feel seen, special, and taken care of by checking in on how they enjoy their freelance and work lifestyle. I motivate them on purpose, workflows, personal skills, so they're not only working FOR me. But WITH me in a common journey to self development while doing work they love.
You have to delegate. It can be hard to hand over work when you want to control everything, but you have the team and specialists around you for one reason, to help you. If you take on too much yourself, you will suffer burnout and end up focusing too much time on the tasks that don't offer the greatest ROI. You hire specialists for one reason, they are amazing at their job and what would take you a whole day, they can do in an hour, so put your trust in them.
That you need to step back as an entrepreneur and allow your team to take over. Management is about building and trusting your team .
For me, one of the most important management lessons I have learned is to be explicit. Basically, let others know exactly what you want.
Don't be vague.
Tell them what you are expecting of them and when you need it by. I have found that this helps reduce confusion and delays in getting things done. Ultimately this leads to better deliverables and more efficient use of time.
Honesty is important as a manager and not just when it's convenient. Honesty can be perceived as "being the bad guy" when it's time to do counseling to improve an employee's performance.
As a Manager, Honesty is holding yourself to the same standards and not being "above the law".
But when everyone knows the rules and follows standards, from the top up, the whole atmosphere is consistent and well, honest. People like working for people who say what they mean and mean what they say - while demonstrating it!