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Ten Commandments for Managing People

Get better results from your most valuable asset By G.A. "Andy" Marken

Ten Commandments for Managing People by Andy MarkenThe most valuable asset any organization has today is not its facilities.  Its not the inventory in the warehouse or on the production line.  Its not healthy bottom line the company achieved last year.

Its people.  Its especially true in the communications and public relations arena where quality and quantity are in such short supply.

Its an asset that is difficult to find, difficult to retain and difficult to manage.  But if you manage the asset properly it can produce exceptional results for your company?and for you.

Here are some simple guidelines you can follow to manage people more effectively, more easily and with better results. 

Think of them as your 10 commandments to better management:

1. Dont get into a rut thinking theres only one right way to do a job.

Judge by results rather than how the task was accomplished

2. Dont expect everyone to be the same.  Dont look for clones of yourself because it can only limit the organizations -- and your -- growth potential.

Aggressively look for people who have the values you respect most but dont expect them to be the same as yours.  Surrounding yourself with people who think and perform like you may be a boost to the ego but diversity, and even chaos, can produce a more well-rounded organization and a multi-dimensional, multi-facet firm people want to associate with?want to deal with.

3. Dont give a lot of criticism.

Very few people take criticism well.  If the only inputs they receive from you are critical they soon stop trying to excel.  Expect people to do well.  When they do, praise them for their efforts and their performance.  Soon youll have them producing results even beyond their own level of expectation.

4. Dont isolate yourself.

Youre the manager.  You cant be effective at the job behind closed doors.  You cant do it by hiding behind voice mail, memos or email.  Make yourself available to your people.  Be accessible when they want your ideas, inputs, and thoughts.

5. Dont wait until the project is completed to give your feedback.

It doesnt mean you have to constantly look over the individuals shoulder or check on what the team is doing but check in periodically.  Get a snapshot update.  Make certain the individual(s) is on the same wavelength as the company or organization and its goals/objectives. 

6. Dont expect your staff to perform poorly.

Expect people to be equal to the task.  Expect them to perform in an outstanding manner and to produce the target results.  Youll be surprised what happens when you believe they are competent.  Most of the time trusting in their ability to deliver will produce the desired results.

7. Dont forget to tell staff members about your expectations, priorities and deadlines.

There are very few clairvoyants in the world.  People dont know if you dont communicate.  Spell out the entire task.  Setting goals, priorities and deadlines in your mind is not the same as telling people.

8. Dont do performance appraisals only once a year.

In most organizations an annual appraisal is required by the firms HR guidelines.  Forget the guidelines.  Evaluate performance informally on a regular basis.  Talk to employees about what theyre doing, the problems they are experiencing, areas they need to focus on improving.  Managing people is a lot like driving a car.  You dont back out of your garage and do nothing until you pull into your office parking lot.  You get from point A to point B successfully and safely by making a continuing series of minor adjustments based on an evaluation of the situation at hand.  The same is true of managing people. 

9. Dont be an autocratic leader.

In yesterdays assembly lines performance was mediocre, at best, because people were told to punch in, do a specific job and punch out at the end of the day.  Very quickly they settled into that mode producing very little value to the organization.  When people were told to make the job their own, the change in attitude and results were spectacular.  Ask employees for their input.  Ask them for their suggestions.  Find out their concerns and difficulties.  Youll be pleasantly surprised that most people want to do not just a good job but a great job.

10. Dont push people to their limits.  Dont expect them to function well over a long period without ample resources.

People can give 150% when necessary and produce outstanding results.  But even the best, most dedicated individual -- yourself included -- cant do it on a consistent day-in, day-out basis.  After extended periods the mind shuts down; the body shuts down.  People also dont perform well in a vacuum.  They need information and inputs.  Sometimes they need extra hands and minds.  Give them the extra time, extra information, extra people they need to do the job properly.

Today were operating in what the Federal government calls a full employment mode.  Generation Xers and Yers are encouraged to -- and do -- change jobs frequently.  Frequent job changes are no longer a negative on a resume as long as they show a steady upward progression or show an expansion of the individuals areas of expertise. 

Following the 10 commandments of managing wont ensure that youll get all the best people and retain them.  It does mean, though, that youll have a better shot at developing a solid team of winners who will produce for your organization regardless of how long they stay with you.

G. A. "Andy" Marken is president of Marken Communications (andy@markencom.com) with more than 25 years of marketing management and communications experience.   Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities with firms including Philips, Panasonic, Verbatim, Dazzle, Pinnacle, InterVideo, Atari, Control Data, CERFnet, AT&T, ADS Tech, LaCie and others.  The full-service firm concentrates on business-to-consumer and business-to-business communications. His Web site is located at www.markencom.com.

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