Managing people is no easy task. But no matter what business you’re in, you’re going to be working with people, and effectively managing them is critical to the success of your business.
In more than 10 years of being in business, I have had to do my own hiring, coaching and firing. In the process, I have learned that developing honest relationships with my employees is critical for a thriving and positive work culture. I’ve also learned that effectively managing their performance day-to-day is just as important as landing a new deal. After all, people are one of the biggest investments you’re making. Why let it go to waste? Or worse, let it ruin your business?
From disciplining to praising, learning to get the best out of people is the end goal of good management. Here are the best three pieces of advice (tried and tested) I ever got about managing people.
1. Give praise at every opportunity.
Although it sounds the easiest to do, this tends to be the hardest for any business owner or manager. It’s often easy to ignore positive behavior from your employees. They’re getting paid to do work right? Why reward them for being on time or doing a good job on that project?
Yes, expectations are important and it helps to hold people accountable. However, we’re all human and a little bit of praise can go a long way. Just like children respond to simple praise, your employees will respond positively if you recognize and acknowledge their good behavior and achievements. If you take their good actions for granted, they will feel unappreciated, opening up opportunities for them to leave or underperform. The worst part is losing a good employee because they felt undervalued by you or your management team.
2. Be timely in your feedback.
Whether you have to praise or discipline an employee, being timely about it is critical. Not doing so means your feedback will hold little weight.
Imagine being disciplined about something you did years back by your parents. You’ll probably just nod and move on. Same goes for your employees. That report isn’t looking like what you expected? Let them know immediately so they can fix it and learn for the next time. Your team just scored a big win with a client? Praise and celebrate them for their performance. Whatever the case might be, make sure you do it when it happens. Not doing so will make future feedback useless and more like criticism.
3. Use the “sandwich method.”
We’ve all heard that honesty is the best policy. When it comes to managing people, honesty is indeed the best policy. Being honest about performance and expectations is critical for healthy relationships at work. However, the delivery of some honest feedback can often lead to more problems. While in my first few years I was brutally honest, I’ve since learned that brutal honesty can be instantly demoralizing.
Instead, I’ve learned to use the “sandwich method,” as suggested by Dale Carnegie, to deliver less than positive feedback. This easy-to-remember method starts with positive feedback or praise, followed by honest feedback and recommendations for growth. It finishes with more positive praise. While this may seem like a lot of work, employees will respond much better if you deliver your message in this method rather than go straight into negative feedback or discipline. By sandwiching the bad news in between positive feedback, they’ll be more receptive to what you’re saying and feel less like they’re being attacked. They will also know that you truly care about them as people and wish for them to continue improving.
In the end
Don’t expect to be a great manager; expect to do your best. In my years of running a business, I’ve learned that being perfect when it comes to managing people is impossible. After all, we’re all people. While you can’t be expected to be perfect, you are expected to do your best. Rethink some of your past employee encounters, good or bad, and think about what you could have done better. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t said something or been quicker to promote someone. Sometimes something as simple as listening more could have made a difference in losing or maximizing a good employee. Consistency in praising, timeliness and an approachable method for delivery has been a winning combination for me. I hope it will be for you too!