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Seven methods to put management pillars into practice

by Jan Makela

People management has drastically changed since earlier decades, where the corporation was king and people were just workers to serve operational efficiency. The operational model for today is mission, purpose and sustainability. Today, teams and team leaders are kings. How can you improve your team, crew or organizational bottom line? Here are seven proven methods that will help.

• Vision and mission

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey wrote, “Start with the end in mind.” What is it that you want? What is in it for others to follow you? There has to be something bigger than you that others can grasp and buy in too. Why does your organization exist? It is not to make money — that is a result. Workers today want to work for organizations that can show a purpose or cause. Google‘s mission, for example, is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Today Google dominates 75 percent of the U.S. online search market.

• Goals

Everyone sets them in January. Most people begin setting and evaluating their goals at the first of the year. And then what happens? The goals go in a drawer or hidden in an electronic file never to see the light of day until someone asks. So put your goals on display so that the team and you can see the goals on a daily basis. Why? Out of sight means out of mind. Keep your goals in front of the people in charge of accomplishing them and ask them about their progress on a routine basis — preferably on a weekly basis. Ask them how they are doing and what can you do to make the goals easier to accomplish.

• Expectations

Only 30 percent of employees know what is expected of them at work. Your goal is to get people to work and perform together. People will live up or down to the perception of your expectations of them. If they think you believe in their abilities and expect them to do well, they will. Remember, if people don’t know what you expect, don’t be surprised by what you get.

• Feedback

Feedback is craved by high performers and by all employees as well. Positive feedback grows and negative feedback stifles. Catch your employees or team members doing the job right and watch when they continue. They will do more of what generates positive feedback.

• Treat everyone fairly but not equal

The people you work with are all unique individuals, and although you need to treat each one fairly, that does not necessarily mean equally. They have different values, wants, backgrounds, skillsets, experience and most likely are at different stages of their careers. One size fits nobody. Great managers play chess; average managers play checkers. In checkers all of the pieces move in the same direction. In chess, all of the pieces move differently and the key to success is knowing the differences between the pieces — how each piece moves and how to create a strategy that maximizes the moves for all of them. Another key piece of the puzzle is showing your team that you genuinely care about them. They need to know you have their interest at heart; people want to know that someone at work cares about them as a person.

• Provide tools and resources to do quality work

Most people don’t wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I think I will go to work today and do a bad job.” Most people want to do quality work. Part of that is having the tools and resources to do a quality job. Ask your people what you can do to make their job easier. Reaffirm your commitment and caring to them. If they say, “I need a new widget maker,” get it. Provide them with the resources they need to succeed. If they say they don’t need anything, your response should be — “I guess I can expect quality work.” You want to take away any and all reasons people can conjure up for failure. You only leave a path to success.

• Celebrate success

What do organizations do when they accomplish a big thing? Well, they move on to the next “big” thing. It is important to stop and celebrate with your crews. Allow people to share the memory of what has been accomplished. Simple things like handwritten notes saying thanks for what they did and how their contribution lead to the overall achievement of the project.

The seven pillars can help separate your organization from the competition in your industry. If you are team leader, foreman or crew chief, it can help you and your team standout within any organization. People who are working in organizations with purpose are much more likely to be promoters of their employers and managers. Not only do they come to work to do quality work, they are less likely to leave and go elsewhere for employment.

Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly sought after speaker, and best-selling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Jan has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners, and professionals. For more information on Jan Makela, please visit


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