Management tipsManaging people is not for everyone. For only three easy payments of $19.99, the secret can be yours! Order within the next 10 minutes, and receive a free mouse pad – only pay shipping and handling. Infomercials know how to sucker people into everything from food dehydrators and knives that can cut bolts, to battery-powered cat toys and Snuggies. The fine art of management, however, is not as easily packaged. Check out the business section of your local book barn. Tons of people have tried packaging the best way to manage people between two covers. Just looking at the overstuffed shelves unveils the secrets to managing people. Read the following and get a free Sham-Wow…or at least a good idea of what good managers know.

The three or four, OK, five, things experienced and excellent managers know are:

1)      There is no one size fits all. Different things motivate different people.

There are no absolutes. Period. Yup, that’s No. 1.

Read all the management books on the shelf and one universal truth becomes apparent: truth is relative. That’s why there are so many books on how to manage effectively, efficiently, with a flair for “soft skills,” or with an iron fist. Take the popular 10 Minute Manager, as an example. The training guides promise management can empower their teams to a higher level of performance on a tight schedule. Who can’t fit 10 minutes a day into their world?  That’s what iPods are for. Go get your latte frappuccino skinny chai with a double espresso shot while listening how best to motivate your team. Multitask! That always works.

2)     Shower the individual with praise.

A 2012 Psychology Today article suggests that a simple “thank you” is more than two words – it provides a connection between two people. In the case of a manager and employee – it provides recognition for a job well done, a deadline met, duties above and beyond. But, it also shows the employee that a manager knows a person is responsible. The manager recognizes the person, not just the task with those two words.

3)      People, not flexibility, are the key to air-power. 

The U.S. Air Force’s pilots like to think it’s flexibility that wins an aerial battle, but it’s the people in the cockpit who switch it up and ensure a successful outcome for a commander. A good manager allows others to think outside the box and find creative solutions to problems, both big and small, plaguing the office. “Give your employees the ability to make decisions and you will see they take pride in doing so,” writes one business blogger. Ownership in the goings-on of a business increases employee buy-in and, ultimately, gives managers more ideas about how to solve problems, tweak the next pitch, or find a cheaper place to buy office supplies.

4)      Why not just try talking to them?

Hang out by the water cooler, coffee pot, or in the break room.

Accessible managers are viewed as more involved with employees than a manager who proclaims to have an open door policy, but is always seen behind a desk. Managers are viewed as more engaged and more accessible when they get out from behind their desk. Wander the hall. Don’t worry, employees don’t bite. Well, most of them, anyway. Stop by reception. Strike up a conversation with the intern. Have a chat with Frank from accounting while noshing on a chocolate donut.

Simple, right? Those are the four things a good manager knows. Keeping people engaged and motivated by acknowledging their work, listening to their ideas, knowing there is not a “one size fits all” formula and getting out and about are really the keys to success. Oh wait. The promise was five things experienced and excellent managers know.

5)      Sometimes managers should buy the donuts.

Your Sham-wow is in the mail.

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Jennifer Lucas