Leading the Way: 12 tips for managing smart

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Last month I wrote about taking the time to hire smart and how that can lead to greater success for employees and organizations. This month I want to complement those thoughts with suggestions to help leaders manage smart.

There are countless theories and volumes of research about effective management styles and best practices. Truth be told, in many cases research and theory exist that refute the aforementioned best practices and styles.

Right or wrong, Iíve gathered a range of thoughts and input about smart management practices to consider as you lead employees and organizations.

1 Be open with employees about the goals, objectives and vision for the business. Then take the time to help them understand how their individual efforts and contributions work in concert with others for the greater good of the whole.

2 Seek, listen to and consider employee input on all aspects of your business. Donít be dismissive because it discourages innovation and douses a meaningful work experience for others.

Employees generally like to know they make a difference, and as a leader, you have the opportunity to facilitate this.

3 Establish an open-door policy. Employees should feel comfortable stepping into your office to discuss ideas, issues, concerns and opportunities.

Closed doors convey unapproachability, which can lead to a culture of distrust.

4 Donít be afraid to say, ďI donít know.Ē

Smart leaders leverage the knowledge and experience of others for best possible outcomes. Learn and know the talents of your employees, and provide them opportunities to use those talents for the good of the whole.

5 Try management by walking around. It only takes a few minutes and the effect can last a long time. Chat with employees, acknowledge their work and appreciate individual efforts.

6 Inspire, encourage and demonstrate behaviors you expect from others. Employees like encouragement, optimism and confidence from leaders.

Talk the talk, and walk the walk.

7 Ask for feedback from employees about your leadership. You canít fix what you donít know is broken. Feedback is an important part of continuous improvement.

8 Manage to the individual, with clear and open communications and feedback. Employees often respond differently to different communication styles.

Sometimes it only takes a small adjustment to get big results.

9 Provide tools for employees to be successful, and help eliminate barriers that might otherwise prevent their success.

10 Donít browbeat employees for honest mistakes. Weíre human, and when we make mistakes we are often our own worst critics.

Help the employee understand the error happened and how to avoid it going forward. Then with a few words of encouragement, move on.

Good leaders care about employee success, even if the employees promote out of the job or organization. Enabling their success is a clear demonstration of your leadership and will be respected.

Holding them back breeds resentment.

11 When and where possible, deflect credit to others. Humility is a powerful leadership trait.

12 And last but not least, think of management as a form of customer service. In this case the customers are employees.

Take the time do to the little things right, and just like customers, your employees will notice and respond accordingly.

Share your story with us. Try one or two of these ideas, and let us know if it makes a difference. You can reach me at alexander-taylor-1@uiowa.edu.

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