The most successful managers have always been those able to bring out the best in their people, for when people are doing their work well, they tend to enjoy a sense of self-worth, high morale, and the respect of others. Since success has a way of breeding success, such people generally continue to excel in what they do. Managing them is a pleasure.
How do you achieve this blissful state of affairs?
One important way is to develop a climate that fosters creativity. Here are some ways to do that.
Make it clear that you value ideas. The first thing you must do is get across the fact that, so far as you are concerned, few activities are more worthwhile than the production of ideas because that is how problems are solved and productivity increased. You can get this point across by what you say about ideas and your attitude toward any that your people bring to you.
Identify the need. In your talks with them, both formal and informal, let your people know what kind of ideas you would most appreciate receiving. Spotlight those areas that are currently presenting problems in the department so that they may focus their creativity on formulating solutions. Once they know you are interested in hearing their ideas, their response may surprise you.
Demonstrate a willingness to help. Few ideas are born perfectly formed. Most require modification of some sort. Make sure your people understand that you will be happy to hear any ideas they may have, no matter what its state of development. For your part, make sure never to react negatively to an idea, regardless of its simplicity, lack of originality, or inappropriateness. The individual's very next idea may be a big winner.
Reward good ideas. The most convincing way to prove that you—and the company—set a high value on good ideas is to reward such contributions. In the process, however, make sure you don't slight those whose ideas haven't panned out. Express your gratitude for their efforts and inform them that you are looking forward to the day when they too will earn such recognition.
Accent the benefits. A good idea ultimately has a payoff; a problem is solved, a new source of savings or profit is created, a new method or process is increasing productivity. In one way or another, the company has gained, the department has gained, and the individual responsible has gained. You can add to your people's motivation to continue to search for ideas by identifying the precise benefits attributable to the idea. By showing the tangible benefits of a good idea, you sustain interest in the creative process. The odds are good that you will be on the receiving end of a steady stream of ideas henceforth.
Six Keys to Making Yourself Memorable
In every organization there are men and women who enjoy reputations for personal performance and integrity that outshine all others.
They aren't necessarily smarter or more experienced or harder working than their colleagues. But in their day-to-day activities and behavior, they continually demonstrate certain traits of character that set them apart from the crowd and make them memorable.
Here are six such characteristics. Try adapting them to your own situation.
The wise word. When you speak, speak only about what you really know. Let your words carry weight because you don't speak them lightly.
The kept promise. When you make a promise, move heaven and earth to live up to it. Let people be sure that your word is your bond. Nothing you can do will so enhance your reputation.
The completed job. When you undertake anything, finish it. Build a reputation as a person who is thorough and sees things through.
The extra value. Do more than is required to get by. This is something that people really remember. It provides you with a sense of accomplishment, too—and pays handsome dividends in warm personal relations.
Punctuality. Time is a limited asset. To waste another's time by not being punctual steals something that he or she can never recover. Be on time.
Dependability. You will command respect in direct proportion to the number of people who have confidence that you will not let them down in any situation.
These traits, in combination, spell integrity. If you make them part of you, your reputation will be immeasurably enhanced.
Turn Yourself into a Trouble-shooter
The least stressful way to avoid crises is not to permit them to develop in the first place. By looking for signs of trouble and eliminating them as soon as you can, you will go a long way toward keeping your department on an even keel.
To be a successful trouble-shooter, you must get out of your office. Get onto the scene where you can watch trouble approach and ward it off.
Don't settle for surface appearances. Talk to your people. Question their actions, their reasoning, their motivation.
What kinds of things should you look for? Here are some ideas.
- People clustered around a desk, machine or water cooler
- An obviously ho-hum work pace
- Any evidence of waste or careless handling of material
- Angry, heated telephone conversations
- Too many employees and too little work
- The same amount of overtime for each person every day and every week.
- Bottlenecks and delays
- Desks piled too high with backlogged paperwork
- Continuously confused or hectic operations in any area
- Negative attitudes toward work
On the other hand, you will also spot people who are bright, alert, and con-scientious. You can count on them to back you up in your trouble-tracking crusade.
Why Strive for Perfection?
The temptation to turn out work that is less than perfect is constantly present and, under certain circumstances, is unavoidable. But given enough time to do a job, there is every reason to aim for perfection.
Consider, for example, what almost perfect work in certain crucial areas of life would mean. With even as much as 99% quality:
- Twenty million letters would be misdelivered daily.
- More than 15 million wrong drug prescriptions would be dispensed daily in the U.S.
- There would be at least four wrong numbers on every page of the telephone book.
- Traffic lights would not work for about 15 minutes each day.
- There would be no newspaper deliveries four times each year.
- Your home would be without electricity, water, heat, telephone service or television transmission for about 15 minutes every day.
Easy Steps to Better Reports
Ask the average manager to draw up a report, and it's even money that the finished product will be twice as long and half as lucid as it ought to be...unless the writer does the following:
1. Briefly states the purpose–what's been requested and by whom. For example: "At the request of the executive committee, I have examined the possibilities of substituting alloy X for alloy Y in product Z. This report offers an estimate of the effect of the new alloy on costs, quality and productivity."
2. Summarizes and recommends. By doing this early in your report, you allow your reader to grasp key information early.
3. Supplies detailed backup information. This is the meat of your report and should include all the details needed to support your recommendations. How much information you include depends on the subject, but specific data should be given. Charts, tables, graphs and even photographs may be helpful.