Yet, as having 5 failed startups in my portfolio and now as Head of Business Development of a mobile company, I can cite many, many practical tips I wish I had known in order to make better management decisions in my startups.
Looking back at my 13 years of setting management direction, building teams and analyzing markets, I’ve come to a rather obvious conclusion: The world has changed a lot since my first job as BUSINESS OWNER back in 2002, and so has my management style.
Early on, I made decisions by the seat of my pants and was micromanaging my staff. Today, I make choices using quantitative support, and let my team — the true experts — do their jobs. Because the reality is, my own success has always been a result of my team’s success.
The bottom line is this: As the world changes, so should your management style. That goes for whether you’re managing a team of two, or two thousand.
To help you effectively manage your own team and guide your company to greatness, you need to tap into these Top Management Lessons I’ve come across from Top Management Gurus:
1. Always trust your team.
When I started, I had difficulties trusting anybody. I worked hard on tasks I’d rather delegated to others, and wouldn’t let them fully execute without my input. Now, I stay out of my team’s way and let them do their jobs, advising them before and after they’ve worked at accomplishing a task, versus throughout the entire process.
You can get much more from team members by assigning them tasks and critiquing them afterward. This time frame gives them a chance to grow and fosters better communication. In the early days, I barely had an opportunity to critique since I was so involved in the process myself.
“In God we trust. All others must bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming
2. Use quantitative support to make decisions.
Jim Barksdale once said: “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”. As I mentioned, I based a lot of my decisions as a first-time CEO on subjective information or gut feeling. It were mostly on the fly, but we certainly didn’t have the quantitative support or technology we use today. These days, I’m using measurable data as much as possible, drawn from dozens of options available for my latest company. There are a lot of productivity tools to help management leaders accomplish their goals, whatever their line of business, and it’s important to identify and arm every business unit — not just sales and finance — with what they need to operate at their best.
3. Learn to be mobile.
There’s no doubt the workplace has changed. I rarely need a private office or even a computer (I have a smartphone). Flexible ways of working are becoming more the norm as businesses and employees enjoy the personal and commercial benefits these practices afford. This report now provides hard, independent research evidence that business internationally have found that flexible working produces and enables real increases in productivity and greater revenue generation. These changes have caused a lot of business leaders to struggle with managing an increasingly mobile and global workforce.
Flexible ways of working are becoming more the norm as businesses and employees enjoy the personal and commercial benefits these practices afford. This report now provides hard, independent research evidence that business internationally have found that flexible working produces and enables real increases in productivity and greater revenue generation.
So, you must adapt yourself and your company to meet the needs of today’s employees. Now that I look back, I see today’s ability to work anywhere as amazing. Either embrace the trend, or be left behind, because tomorrow’s best talent doesn’t want to work in yesterday’s office.
4. Don’t be overly helpful when new.
It takes a long time to understand what people have done to make their companies successful. Accordingly, as a CEO, I’ve disciplined myself to not fully insert myself into too many areas of the company for the first two to six months, unless there’s a crisis.
If you’re the new leader at a company, treat it as if you were going onto a busy highway: Be careful merging into traffic and get up to speed before switching lanes. Take time to figure out what’s going on and then start changing directions without slowing down. When it comes to management, I truly believe that if you move too fast, you often make mistakes. Again, the only caveat is: as long as there isn’t a crisis.
5. Start loving bad news.
Recognizing that your feelings will occasionally be hurt listening to constructive feedback. But if you’re not willing to listen because you’re afraid to hear bad news, you’re going to miss the opportunity to learn about the real issues and what you could be focusing on.
Try to start loving the bad news. In fact, I always want the bad news first. The reason is, I want to be informed, feel more in control and be in a better position to resolve issues and manage them appropriately. Plus, if you’re a leader who’s not open to bad news, and your team knows it, it’s impossible to build trust.
6. Hire someone you’d be happy to see & work with.
Maintaining a culture and motivating people, while building a company at the same time, can be challenging. Since my first job, I’ve learned that hiring people who are perfect in the interview and on paper is good. But hiring people you look forward to seeing in the hallway — people who are capable but also nice — is equally important.
Additionally, always admit when you’ve made a hiring mistake, because you’re not going to be perfect. When you make a bad hire, it’s probably not the best fit for the person you hired, either, so own up to it.
Finally, I recommend staying away from people with attitude. Best teams consist of people willing to work as a team and not only for themselves.
7. Have Patience.
This one is a big statement as it comprises of many small tasks you do all the time.
Let me here quote Randy Williams, CFO – BLU Products, used to wait patiently for business meetings to pass silently enjoying all presentations and fact representations. At the near end, he would open his cards from his sleeve and talk just to the point making the highest impact.
In other instance to be patient, now I try to follow the “freeze rule“. We, sometime need to hold our tongue, hold our thoughts, our movements which can distract or irritate other people. Follow the freeze rule when you encounter such. It really helps.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
8. There’s always time, priorities vary.
You never actually “run out of time.” If you didn’t finish something by the time it was due, it’s because you didn’t consider it urgent or enjoyable enough to prioritize ahead of whatever else you were doing.
Money can be managed. People can be managed. Schedules can be managed. Time can only be accounted for.
You’re only going to have 24 hours in a day no matter what you do. Unless you’re close to a scientific breakthrough that allows you to personally bend spacetime, you can’t speed it up, slow it down, optimize it, or maximize it. A second is a second, though your internal experience of a second can vary considerably. (We need not be considering extreme or quantum physics scenarios. As Einstein himself remarked, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” Time doesn’t fly when you’re having fun – your perception of time changes.
9. Stop multitasking and get more focused and productive with limited time.
Build in some buffer time. As the founder of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp David Heinemeier Hansson said, “Only plan on four to five hours of real work per day.” Avoid over-scheduling by refraining from getting too precise with plans. “The more precise a task or objective is, the easier it is to miss,” Garbugli writes.
Some days you’ll be off your game, and other times you’ll be able to maintain your focus for 12 hours straight. Take advantage of those days.
There have been academic studies that found that the brain expends energy as it readjusts its focus from one item to the next. If you’re spending your day multitasking, you’re actually exhausting your brain.
Work always seems to find a way of filling the space allotted for it, so set shorter time limits for each task.
10. Work is the best way to get working.
The business plan you need to finish may be intimidating at 8 in the morning. Get your mind on the right path with easy tasks, like answering some important work emails. Doing less than the other guy is not a good strategy but we can all work smarter, too.
We need to Work Smarter, Not Harder as expressed by Jeff Haden in his post. One of the most counterintuitive but effective methods I’ve found for increasing my productivity is to limit how many items I add to my to-do list.
One way to do this is by choosing one to three most important tasks, or MITs. These are the big, tough tasks for your day that you really need to get done; the ones that will keep you in the office past the time you planned to leave, or working after dinner if you don’t get through them.
“Do your MITs first thing in the morning, either at home or when you first get to work. If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them. Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!” – Leo Babauta