Managing people is a very critical and difficult task. Not anyone can become a manager. If you do not have the right skills, you can cause a lot of problems and you can drive away your finest employees.
Here are some hints and tips on how to be a successful manager:
1- If you want to be heard and if you want your descendents to follow your instructions and finish their work correctly and on time, INSTRUCT do not ORDER. Some managers go around the office giving orders with an angry tone. This never works. Befriend your employees and give them instructions and you will find that they will cooperate much better.
2- DELEGATE, do not DUMP. Some managers do not know how and what to delegate. They just keep dumping loads of work on their employees. Some others keep doing things they are supposed to delegate. To know the difference and do it right is the key to a successful manager.
3- INSPIRE. Be a leader not a manager (there is a big difference). You should be a figure your employees are looking up to. If you want them to come to work on time, you should be an early comer yourself. If you want them to perfect their work, you should be a perfectionist yourself. If you want them to love to come to work and finish their work on time, you should create a good spirit around the office that makes them love working with you.
4- Be FIRM but GENTLE. BE FAIR. FOLLOW YOUR OWN RULES. You have to have a clear policy and set of rules to follow around the office. And you have to apply the policy not just have it or else it is meaningless. You have to punish whoever deserves to be punished and reward whoever deserves the reward. Reward and punishment is a very important motivational tool. When employees who work hard find that they are treated exactly the same as the ones who do not, they simply stop working. And when you do not punish, mistakes keep increasing and you create chaos around the office. You have to be fair in your judgments. Reward or punish based on the quality of work and the behavior around the office and NOTHING else. Do not open the door for employees to feed your ego and make you give them more than they really deserve.
5- CREATE a balanced work load. Leaving your employees too much free time will create laziness and will make them use the company resources for fun. On the other hand overloading them constantly will wear them out and will make you gradually lose them. You have to balance. Never accept unreasonable deadlines, just because the customer wants the project to be done in two months when it really needs six months. YES, the customer is king and is always right. But to to make your customer happy you have to be honest. Do not promise a deadline that you know you can not keep even by wearing out and squeezing your team. If you do so, your customer will be angry because his work will be delayed. And your employees will be frustrated and will loose their momentum. Be smart enough to convince your customer of the realistic time plan. Think of both sides and meet them both half ways. (lean more on your employees of course)
6- ADMIRE. Give encouraging comments to those who produce quality work and those who excel. Admiring your employees’ work and making them know that you do, is a very important motivational tool.
7- Make sure all necessary office resources and tools are available. You can not ask your employees to do their work and excel when for example: The Net is always down or too slow (if needed at work), or the office is not clean, the toilets are not proper for human use!, the printer never prints, the air conditioner is always down, needed stationary is always late,…….or whatever other office needs.
8- Be HUMAN….But a smart one. You have to accept excuses but be smart enough to know when your employee is honest and when he is making up excuses. It is acceptable that sometimes an employee is tired, sick, his father or a relative died, he had a family emergency, had to run an errand…. You have to accept in a balanced manner some of those excuses, as long as the work is not delayed or harmed. Be human and remember that you yourself are subjected to such issues. But do not be too loose to the extent that your employees are constantly not showing up or coming late for one reason or another.
9- Understand people differences. Yes, you have to be fair and treat everyone according to your policy the same way. But remember that people are different and that everyone responds to a different way of treatment. Some employees for instance do not work except when they know that you are monitoring closely and that you are ready to punish. Others can not work at all when they feel that they are closely monitored as such. On the contrary when you give them space, they excel. You have to be smart to know your employees and treat everyone the way that brings the best out of him.
10- A successful manager creates leaders not followers. You have to be able to create leaders, ones who can figure out what to do and manage situations on their own. Do not be happy that your employees are always waiting for your instructions. This creates a load on your shoulders. Setting an example and making them able to stand up on their own feet is what makes you a good manager. Leave room for your employees to innovate and come to you with suggestions for improving the wok quality.
11-MAKE THEM RESPECT YOU. If they do not love you, they at least have to respect you. If you follow all the above points, they will respect you and love working with you.
I was lucky enough to have a manager with all the above qualities. He was my very first boss when I started working just after I acquired my masters. His name was Hakam Kanafani and to him I owe my success as a manager later on in my career. He taught me how to become a leader and how to create leaders, how to concentrate on the finest details and be a perfectionist. Also, how to be a source of inspiration around the office and how to be able to understand people differences and treat everyone the way that suits his character best . He was a character you respect and love working with. Everyone around the office was so keen to make him proud and happy of his work. I take this chance to thank him and to tell him that if I am a successful leader today and if I was able to create leaders it is because he inspired me.