What brings out the best in people?

Your management style will affect the performance of your people.  Get it right and they will bring success for you, for your customers and for your business.  Getting it wrong will be painful.

Have high aspirations and communicate them clearly

What do you want to do that is really special?  Is it about being the best in your sector or developing a completely new product?  To inspire your people, have a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal‘* and explain how your people can help.  Keep this goal central to everything that you do and share it in a very public way.

* ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals‘ is a term coined by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great.

Be appreciative

It costs nothing to say thank you or wish someone a nice weekend.  A little appreciation can help me overcome the most challenging of situations.  A simple smile can lift a person’s spirit.  Sincere appreciation is the most powerful motivator, more than money or prizes.

Play to people’s strengths

Recognise that everyone on the team brings something different to the party.  Play to those strengths.  Encourage each person to do what they do best and find someone else to do the things that they are not so good at.

Give people the responsibility, the training and the resources

Give your team what they need to get the job done.  Nothing is more demotivating than micro management.  So, give people the space to get on and do the job.  And ask your people what would make their work easier.  You will almost certainly be surprised at the simple things they suggest that you may not have thought of.  In my experience, when you get this right your people will have even more respect for you and exceed your expectations.

Be there when needed

People want you to be there when they need help.  The best bosses always respond quickly when needed and have a knack of being supportive without having to take back control.  There may be things that you can do to help that they cannot do for themselves e.g. asking a customer for a phased delivery schedule, that doesn’t change the completion date but helps to take the immediate pressure off your people, might make a massive difference.  Be seen to be onside with your team. 

Allow people to make mistakes

Allow your team to make mistakes in a controlled way and without fear of getting “beaten up”.  If a mistake is made, what can be learnt from it and how do you, as a team, prevent it from happening again.  Regularly discuss what has gone well and what could have been done better.

Show that you can work hard too

People will work incredibly hard and against massive odds when they feel that they are part of a team that is all working together.  I once asked the CEO of a manufacturing company what it was that made them so successful.  He replied, “We are a team of people all facing in the same direction.”  Simple words that spoke volumes about how they work together.

Be professional

Few things will destroy your management credibility quicker than a lack of professionalism, therefore ensuring you have high standards and integrity is essential. The standard you set will be mirrored throughout your company.

Be human

You are not a machine.  You are not perfect.  You want to do your best.  You want to succeed and you want to have pride in your work.  You will have your own strengths and weaknesses too.  Be prepared to admit to your failings.  Ask people if they can suggest how things might be done better.  The best we can be is by truly working together.

Recommended Reading: Jim Collins, “Good to Great” Why some companies make the leap… and other’s don’t.

Derek Williams, Founder of The WOW! Awards