Managers’ Rules of Engagement

IB Publisher Jody Glynn Patrick writes about business for her column, with a departure to “no business allowed” in her blog “After Hours.” Even the print magazine’s parameters are loose for Jody, as she writes from the heart and typically more toward HR or human interest topics.

Gail Perry, author of Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, recently created a list of nonprofit board member resolutions for 2012. I’ve altered that base document and added a couple items to create a “rules of engagement” list to share with my managers. Here is what the final list looks like:

Get more engaged. Your company needs you to pay very close attention to your job because it can’t afford disengaged bosses or staff. Your business needs YOU to lead, to question, and to act.

Have a bias toward action. Look for real actions you can take to help drive profits. Ask the staff what they need you to DO to help them be successful; say what you need them to DO this month, this quarter, this year, to succeed. There’s too much at stake not to turn plans into action.

Think big. You’re not going to help move your company mission forward by thinking small. There is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. A big vision helps you attract people and resources. Energy is everything when you are trying to cultivate market or workplace change.

Be optimistic, no matter what. Ban the handwringing and naysaying. Negativity is self-defeating and deadening. It wipes out energy and passion and deadens momentum. Be the manager who has the point of view of abundance rather than scarcity. You’ll influence the rest.

Go back to your vision for your division or company over and over.
It will keep you excited, focused, passionate, and results-oriented. If you feel jaded or bored, purposely recall why you really care about this company. Remembering your commitment to the product and customer base will help rejuvenate your energy.

Be the catalyst; be the provocateur. Challenge, challenge, challenge the status quo. Jack Welch said, “If the change is happening on the outside faster than it is on the inside, the end is near.” Too many managers plan for the future based firmly on the past. Be willing to ask, “Why are we doing this?” If needed, point out the elephant in the room that everyone is too polite to mention. Tackle the sacred cows.

Make the hard decisions and then move on. Do you have the right infrastructure, processes, pricing, staff, and customers? Mentally build the business again from scratch. Who would you rehire from your existing staff pool? Who would you not rehire? What jobs would you add? What customers would you “fire”? Correct what you can and do more of what you know is right based on what you’ve learned. Then look forward, not backwards.

Support the staff. Your team carries the weight of enormous responsibility on their shoulders. Pay them competitive salaries and establish work hours that honor family commitments, too. Respond to their emails. Tell them what a great job they are doing. An acknowledged, self-confident staff is a higher-performing staff.

Introduce 10 of your family members/friends to your products. Get them on your company’s bandwagon. Show them the good work your company is doing. When your family and friends are excited about your work, they re-energize you and support you in your career.

Be a “sneezer” and spread your company’s viral news wherever you go. Ideas are like viruses – they are contagious. You want to create an epidemic of good buzz about your company. Your business associates need to know about your passionate involvement. Say, “Do you know what is happening in our business?” Before you know it, they’ll be engaged and become your best business ambassadors!

Leave your own proud, personal thumbprint on your organization. Set an example and be willing to talk to staff about their contributions, too. Make clear your expectations of full engagement from everyone.
Then (critical) walk the walk.

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