Managing a business or department looks easy, but it’s fraught with peril and opportunities for mistakes. As the boss, you’re responsible for everything and anything that goes on under your watch. Managers, particularly new ones, get lost in the transition between manager and co-worker. Older managers lose their edge and choose a more relaxed style of managing. It’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of relaxed management, which hurts both the business, the employees and the manager. No matter where you are in your management career, if you follow these five rules of great management both you and your underlings will flourish.
1. Create structure.
As soon as you receive the title of manager, let your underlings know exactly what you expect from them by laying out the dos and don’ts of working with you. These rules might be no brainers, like don’t drink on the job, or when they can take time off. The structure includes how you will train them and support them in their positions. By giving your employees and yourself structure, you won’t flounder when something unexpected comes up, such as a lawsuit. You can simply say these are the rules and everyone follows them. If they don’t, they know the consequences. This protects you during your tenure as manager.
2. Lay out the consequences.
It’s one thing to tell your employees what you expect from them. It’s another to enforce it with an official reprimand routine, such as first one verbal, second one written, etc. This lets the employee know exactly what you will tolerate before handing them a pick slip. Don’t let your guess at the reprimand routine or have to wait until someone crosses the line. Tell them on their first day of work. You can create an employee’s handbook for this purpose, if your company doesn’t have one already.
3. Ask the hard questions during an interview.
It’s tempting to go easy on the interviewee during the hiring process and forgo the hard questions, such as job-specific questions that you feel you are not knowledgeable to evaluate. The hard questions help you weed out the bad eggs before they get the job. So avoid going easy on the interviewee. You might ask the employee, who’s leaving to help you come up with hard hitting questions suited to the position. Qualified employees make you look good and create fewer problems for you.
4. Employees are not friends.
It’s great that you get along with your underlings. It’s another story when it starts to affect how efficiently you do your job. You must be able to fire the employee and friendship could stop you from doing that. It’s also possible you could end up in a lawsuit for harassment and lose your job in the process.
5. Take it behind closed doors.
Never scold or reprimand an employee in front of others. Reprimanding an employee in front of their peers embarrasses them and looks unprofessional. It’s also grounds for a lawsuit. If you feel uncomfortable with bringing employees of the opposite sex into a potential he said, she said situation, ask your assistant manager to sit in on the meeting.
Managers are responsible for the actions of their underlings. It looks bad on you when you let these rules fall by the wayside. Keeping a professional image will keep you on the corporate elevator. Have you ever let one of these rules slide? What were the consequences?