With experience and hindsight comes wisdom. But don’t you wish there was a way to shortcut the often painful experiences you have while building your company?
What we wish we had known
At Air we are always learning and thought it would be fun to have a round up of the things we and others wish we had known when it comes to looking after people.
- You are probably a bad manager. Unfortunately. Because, most people generally are. Its not something that comes naturally. It is a skill just like computer programming, engineering, speaking a language. Being good at your job or starting companies doesn’t automatically translate into management excellence. It can be taught – and you should seek support when you start employing people. We have loads of useful tried and tested real world advice here if you haven’t managed anyone before.
- People don’t expect you to know the answer to everything or to be always right. Its OK (good, in fact) to admit you have messed up, or don’t know the answer. What is bad, is to pretend to know, lie, or retreat into a hole when you don’t know what to do (this is tempting sometimes, we know)
- People don’t listen to everything you say or understand what you are telling them. What? You’ve told them 5 times? And they still don’t get it? What’s wrong with these people? There is nothing wrong with them, but there is something wrong with your communication. You have not followed the number one rule – people need to know “WIIFM” (“what’s in it for me”). If they don’t hear or see this, they switch off, no matter how much noise you make.
- People don’t work harder just because you increase their salary. They really don’t! You need to articulate the mission, provide interesting jobs, give them control over their work and ensure they understand how what they are doing fits into the big picture, and give them regular feedback. Oh, and say thank you for their efforts. Read more here on performance management.
- The thing that matters most out of recognition (a simple “thank you” or “well done”) OR a financial bonus, is the recognition. So why wouldn’t you do it? It doesn’t cost you anything!
- Kindness is very important in business. We’d go to so far as to say the number one thing you should do as a leader. Understand emotion. People are humans. They didn’t leave their emotions or feelings at the office door. Being considerate is one of the most powerful things you can do. We talked to a friend recently who is leaving a very well paid job at a large organisation simply because in the year she has worked there, her manager never once said good morning to her when she arrived for work, and ignored the greeting she gave him. Imagine! How simply this could have been avoided!
- Your employees notice everything you do. Yes, everything. And they take their cue and model themselves on you. In this world, you are MUCH more important than you think. Everything you say or do sends a powerful message about the way that people should behave. Even the things you don’t notice or think are important. Think it didn’t matter that you didn’t make your colleagues a cup of tea? Or that you didn’t send them a Christmas or birthday card? That you didn’t wash up your dirty coffee cup and left it in the sink yet you just sent an ranty email reminding everyone to keep the kitchen clean? That that you helped yourself first to the office pizza? Think again. Here’s our guide to very simple and inexpensive ways to improve your company culture.
- People don’t always tell you how they really feel, no matter how friendly you are with them or how long you have worked with them. We have talked to countless CEOs who tell me that all their people are very happy working at their company. How do they know? They “asked” them. Now, just think for a moment. You are a junior employee, and your boss or boss’s boss says, “do you enjoy working here?” Hmm….great to be asked, but are you really going to reveal that you think your co-workers are lazy, you are fed up that you did not get asked to contribute to the new project, or that you think you deserved the promotion not your colleague? And just before she stopped by your desk you were updating your LinkedIn profile? I wonder. Read our guide for more effective ways to take the temperature in your workplace and get real, actionable employee feedback.
- People understand that starting companies is incredibly hard and that sometimes things don’t work out. They are adults and they can handle bad news. The worst thing you can do is to try to sugar coat it. They will see through you instantly.
- People don’t leave your company for better pay. They leave because YOU were a bad manager.
If you are starting on your management journey we’re here for you. Take your pick of our favourite reads which will inspire and inform.