There is no good way to manage people

Everyone brings their own personal baggage with them to work. People make poor choices, act rashly and defend their own comfort zones.

People have agendas all their own that often have nothing to do with the work agenda that managers are promoting.

The best managers try hard to motivate and guide their people to meet agreed-upon goals. Procedures, protocols and guidelines are put in place to help keep things fair and organized. Feedback, motivation and direction are given.

In the article, There Is No Good Way to Manage People, But We Have To Try Anyway, sales expert and author Tron Jordheim offers some advice on the best way to become good managers. The chief marketing officer of StorageMart, one of the world's largest privately held self-storage companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada, he has helped lead the company to double digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call center support.

Jordheim has consulted for companies and spoken at trade events in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain and Mexico. He has 40+ years of experience in sales, marketing and training.

An extract

Here is an excerpt from that article:

There are many books on people management and you may have practiced all the different styles. If you boil down all the great people management advice as much as you can, there are really only two things to do.

One is to make sure your staff is getting ongoing training, feedback, correction and motivation for all their work-related behaviors. The other thing is to leave your people alone and let them work.

The trick is to know when to do which with each person.

Best practices

In the article, Jordheim offered some ways to attempt to do this.

- Try to create models of best performance and best practices for employees to learn, to copy and to aspire to. You can create goals, requirements and performance thresholds to use as measurement tools.

Be fair and consistent in enforcing performance requirements and work rules. Be honest with them in your assessment of business conditions, your communication of company policies and your feelings about their performance.

- Try to get to know each of your people so you can find the right way to approach, motivate and correct each individual. Spend a little time with each of your direct reports and encourage them to spend time with each of their direct reports.

Spending time together helps solidify team-work, clarify any issues and makes sure you and your people are being accountable to each other.

- Stop relying on email and memos. Have personal conversations with the people in your group and allow your people to be honest with you.

Spend at least a little personal time with each person every month if you can. Learn to be a good listener. Your will learn a lot about how to deal with your people if you hear what they say.

- Sometimes managers feel that people can perform better and can produce more, but if employees have found a comfortable and satisfactory balance it is best not to disturb. Resist the temptation to over mange them.

There are times your people just need to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days you will work hard to mold people’s behavior and performance when what they really needed was to be left alone to do their jobs.

Some days you will leave people alone when what they really needed was to be working with someone.  

Try to ask yourself each day two questions: who needs time from me today and who needs to be left alone?

If you allow yourself to admit that there is no good way to manage people, you can do your company a lot of good by trying to be a better manager every day. Work on best practices, get to know your people, communicate personally and above all, leave well enough alone.

When it comes to managing people, I try and follow a philosophy advocated by Thomas J. Watson, Jr., a former chairman and CEO of IBM: "I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people.”