I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead as well as to follow. On the journey, I’ve noticed that some leaders have the “right stuff” and others probably ought to be stuffed!

Individual and corporate management style can lead to significant success or dismal failure. These are some common traits that successful managers possess that can lead to management methods that inspire subordinates and lead to increased productivity and a happier workforce. Lets examine a few traits of successful management teams. These three suggestions are simple, but often overlooked by management.

1. Management should praise their workforce often and publicly. Let your subordinates know that their efforts are necessary and appreciated. Tangible tokens of appreciation are best remembered and engender loyalty and dedication from the recipient. Theater tickets, a coffee mug, a small inexpensive gift are easily obtainable and the potential for increased loyalty, dedication and efficiency is significant. I recall a manager presenting me with a small toy wrench for my efforts in developing a successful maintenance plan. I worked twice as hard for him than anyone before or after. In fact, I am recalling it now, some 40 years after the event. I knew he appreciated me. Remember that management can not survive if their subordinates do not fully adopt a plan or work diligently to carry out the details of a decision. If subordinates are not meeting management expectations, performance counseling should be conducted in private and provide details about the undesirable work habit along with suggestions for improvement. Make sure the session ends with a note of encouragement. It is important to be aware that everyone wants to positively contribute to success. No one enjoys failure.

2. Management should involve subordinates in decision making to the maximum extent possible. It is not uncommon for workers to identify a problem long before management recognizes it. When subordinates are involved in decision making they become a critical part of the solution. Subordinates have the opportunity to become acquainted with management issues and if involved in the decision process become owners of that solution. That ownership means that subordinates will work diligently towards success, after all it is their solution that is being implemented. I remember years ago that I had a meeting to develop a new plan to increase efficiency. I called in the members of my team and listened to their suggestions. They suggested a plan that I was not fond of, but they were enthusiastic and against my better judgment at the time, I allowed them to go forth. It was the most successful plan that I ever didn’t develop! I’ve involved subordinates in my planning ever since and it has always reaped rewards. By the way – except for this writing I never refer to subordinates as subordinates. We are all members of a team – I just happened to be the captain.

3. Management should remember to set the example for timeliness, dedication, cordiality and the host of characteristics that are essential for a cooperative and successful operation. A corporation, office or even a very small group of individuals engaged in a common endeavor has a personality. The degree to which that group personality represents what is desirable in human nature reflects the degree of success that the group will achieve. Management determines the personality and setting the example for success is incumbent upon those leaders. We all know a happy team is a productive team.

These are three simple steps that will reflect favorably upon management and will lead to increased efficiency and productivity from subordinates. It is not understandable why so many chose to ignore these simple techniques.

David Richards is a retired teacher and former business owner that lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. He enjoys sharing any knowledge gained or lessons learned in his life in hopes that they may be applicable to others.

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