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Managing Modern-Day Employees

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dontjuststandthereI read a great article over on Forbes.com written by Best Selling author, Jacob Morgan. The piece was called “5 Must-Have Qualities of the Modern Manager” and Jacob does a great job breaking down some important considerations team leaders need to make when managing employees of this day and age. I recommend you check out the entire piece he wrote even though I’m gonna summarize it here for you and add my own thoughts with his.

First, Jacob suggests that managers lead from the front meaning “we’re all in this together and none of us are too good to do anything needed to help this company succeed”. I couldn’t agree more.  If your garbage is full, take it out.

In his next point, Morgan said that understanding technology is very important.  I have had first hand experience with upper-level management in large corporations who don’t even understand Facebook, let alone the latest apps, SmartStuff or trends. And there are still a good number of folks in today’s workplace who rebel against modern technology. What are these folks gonna do when they way to their unemployment filing comes through an app on a phone they don’t own?

Jacob’s next point was about leading by example. He’s saying basically that managers need to roll up their sleeves and do the job with their staff.  I have experience with this.  In my last job as a Sales Director at a car dealership, I frequently would run around the lots pulling up cars for my team, taking new cars back to be washed, driving cars to the gas station to fill them up, etc.  At first, my team was confused.  They wondered why I didn’t use a porter or ask them to handle these trivial duties.  The reason for my extra efforts was because I needed them to see that I wasn’t too good for anything and that as a manager, I was gonna help make their jobs easier so they could stay productive.

Morgan then spoke about embracing vulnerability.  What he meant was, yesterday’s manager had to be strong, all about the rules and never allowed to show emotion. He wrote, “we aren’t running our organizations like the military anymore.” Being vulnerable is a quality that gives your staffer some peace at work.  Today’s employee works more efficiently when not threatened. To add to that, I want to remind you that we live in a different time and age, where relationships are all built around personal biographies on social media.  If managers of today want to connect with their team, they have to open up and bring them in to their world.

Finally, Jacob advises his readers to share the decision making process.  Make your workplace a collaborative environment so your team feels like they are making a difference and part of something bigger then just a 9-5 job.

Great stuff.  I appreciated reading that this morning.

Before I wrap it up, I want to share a quickie with you from my Sales Director gig that I mentioned earlier.

I did very well as the director.  The majority of the team appreciated the fact that I was so engaged in their sales process and always doing whatever it took to help them succeed.  Seriously, all the points Jacob mentioned in his piece was exemplified in my day to day.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to win everyone over.  You’ll never please everyone in life, even if it’s your goal to.

I had a couple of old timers on my staff that had decent sales numbers because of their many years in the game, but they were more ornery, negative and disruptive then anyone I’ve ever met. Their production kept them employed, but not one wanted to work with them.

I treated them the same way I treated the rest of the team, becoming actively involved with them, with their customers and helping wherever I could.  Somehow, I couldn’t win them over.  I threw them free sales deals (spoons) I got, I handled a lot of tedious tasks for them and always went to bat for them in management meetings. It didn’t make a difference.

Not only did they not like me, on one occasion they went over my head, trying to throw me under the bus with my boss by submitting a false accusation against me regarding my management decisions. Thankfully, I had written evidence that showed that their claim was ridiculous.  The unfortunate part of that situation was, when I produced the proof that vindicated me, the evidence also showed their performance as poor.  In other words, they ended up making themselves look worse–something I would have protected them from had we all played nice.

In any event, I moved on, left that gig and from what I’m told almost 6 months later, the company hasn’t been able to successfully fill my position.  No one they bring in has been able to do all the things I did.

And the most satisfying part of the whole thing is…both of those stubborn employees have telephoned me on several occasions telling me that they miss having me there and wish I was still their supervisor. Additionally, little birdies I know that still work in that office have advised me that the same two staffers who always moaned about me being their boss, now constantly moan that they wish I was still their boss.

The lesson here?  Be true to the modern-day management style and your team will appreciate you–even if it takes some of them longer then others.

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