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Management Hack: Grow Fire

Management Hack: Grow Fire

If you’re a supervisor or executive in your company, you also must play the role of farmer. It’s your job to cultivate and grow crops that will yield the next series of leaders and top performers. So, with that as the backdrop, I say to you: grow fire.

Grow Fire

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Find the most passionate of your employees and give them extra care and attention, because though they might occasionally crowd the other plants with their quirks, their passion is what will ignite and move the company forward. Your fire crops are the kinds of people you want to cultivate into leaders that you can send into situations in your stead, and let them handle the task. Accept all responsibility for any problems they cause, but give all praise to them.

Managers and supervisors can sometimes feel worry that by giving their subordinates the spotlight on certain activities that it will somehow reflect negatively on their own perceived value to the organization. If my employee gets all the praise and spotlight, they’ll think nothing of me.

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I disagree. I think that by growing out incredible talent within your ranks, their success comes back as a hallmark of what a great manager and developer of talent you truly are. It’s such a powerful message, to tell an employee, “You’ve got what it takes. Go ahead and run with this. I trust you.” When you mean it, and when they truly have the ability, it’s a powerful moment.

Giving your passionate and capable employees the ball to run with also tells the rest of the team that if they work hard and do more than just the required effort, they have a shot at something bigger than their current role. It’s far more motivating than free coffee out of the vending machines, or blue jean Fridays. And it’s also giving something back to the company.

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Plan Tomorrow Today

You already know who the “fire” is on your team. The minute you understood the concept, you plugged in her name while considering this. Are you already working with this perspective in mind? Here are some tips to growing your fire.

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  • Share the end results requirements- Your talented leader-to-be has passion. Now, share the perspective from which you’re making your decisions. Not the “how to,” but the “what we need for a win” type information. Tell him, “It might seem like we’re pushing Engineering too hard, but if we make this deadline, we’ll get a $400,000 bonus to the contract.” Give your fire a sense of the dimensions from which you make decisions.
  • Share boundaries- Letting an employee run with a project doesn’t mean throwing her to the wild and letting her figure it all out. Show the edges of the game board, the known hazards, the things that traditionally will cause an issue. And then let your talented star navigate the course.
  • Announce and Coronate- Make sure more than you and your special employee know of this granting of extra power. Not in any weird way, and certainly not in a dynamic that will alienate or dishearten the remaining team members (“Yumiko’s really a star performer, so she’s going to handle the case. The rest of you would do well to learn by her.” — That would be the worst message ever to give.) But be sure everyone knows Yumiko’s working on your authority and that she can count on your support and hopefully the support of the entire team.
  • Stay attentive for “switchers”- Occasionally, a passionate up-and-comer is really a despot waiting to happen, someone who waits politely for power before using it to strike out and execute his own agenda. Watch for this, and when you observe it (be certain before you act), pull the person aside as quickly as possible and assess together. Give feedback. Search for motivations different than your original assessment. And if necessary, revoke the opportunity for the time being. Just like prison, never take away hope for a better chance, but be clear that the actions you observed weren’t appropriate for the kind of leader you’re looking to cultivate.
  • Broadcast success, shield failures- Give your freshly grown fire all the sunlight you can when she blazes a new trail to success for the team. Make sure your boss knows who your new superhero is. Give your peers an earful of her praise. Praising others often rubs off a little on you, too. It shows that you’re a gracious and appreciative person, and folks want that kind of energy around them.

    Now, the flipside. You know this. You’ve read it a million times. It’s one of the biggest lessons to learn, because often it seems almost natural to want to pile on criticism to someone who’s run afoul of expectations. But resist the urge. Stand up for their efforts and say that you imagine only better things to come. In private, take what steps are necessary. If he’s really botched things up, explain all the ramifications of his actions. Not, “You really messed up,” but, “By missing that deadline, we lost the bonus, we will have to spend more money on overtime and contractors to make up, and everything will slip downstream as well.” We always target the actions and their ramifications, not the person’s character.

Good Farmers

There are good managers in companies, bright managers who really contribute to the success of an organization. You’re one of those, right? But imagine just how much more effective you’d appear to an organization if, alongside your own considerable talents, you were producing these fire crops of talented leaders, who would in turn become future managers and leaders of greatness within the organization. Do I want a stand-alone great manager, or one who’s giving me growth for the future. All things equal, if I were in charge, I’d want the one growing fire.

–Chris Brogan is a regular writer for Lifehack.org. He grows content networks at GrasshopperFactory.com.

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Last Updated on December 30, 2018

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

This article is the 2nd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days.

If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

So how to become an early riser?

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Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

1. Choose to get up before you go to sleep

You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

No more! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before. Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

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Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

2. Have a plan for your extra time

Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day? If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed. You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

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3. Make rising early a social activity

While there’s obvious value in joining a Lifehack Challenge in order to get you started as an early riser, your internet buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

4. Don’t use an alarm that makes you angry

If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning? I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

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When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

5. Get your blood flowing right after waking

If you don’t have a neighbor you can pick fights with at 5am you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you. If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

More Resources for an Energetic Morning

Featured photo credit: Frank Vex via unsplash.com

Reference

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