Management books have it all wrong. They all try to tell you how to manage “people.”
It’s impossible to manage “people”; it’s only possible to manage individuals. And because individuals differ from one another, what works with one individual may not work with somebody else.
Some individuals thrive on public praise; others feel uncomfortable when singled out.
Some individuals are all about the money; others thrive on challenging assignments.
Some individuals need mentoring; others find advice to be grating.
The trick is to manage individuals the way that THEY want to be managed, rather than the way that YOU’d prefer to be managed.
The only way to do this is to ASK.
In your first (or next) meeting with each direct report ask:
- How do you prefer to be managed?
- What can I do to help you excel?
- What types of management annoy you?
Listen (really listen) to the response and then, as far as you are able, adapt your coaching, motivation, compensation, and so forth to match that individual’s needs.
BTW, a savvy employee won’t wait for you to ask; he or she will tell you outright what works. When this happens, you’re crazy not to take that employee’s advice!
Unfortunately, most individuals aren’t that bold, which is why it’s up to you to find out how to get the best out of them.
And you’ll never get that out of a management book.
There is no one-size-fits-all in a world where everyone is unique.