If you assembled the top 100 career management professionals across the top 10 industries and asked them for their best advice, I seriously doubt you’d hear anything about “value justification” or “user engagement.” You might not even hear change management, going forward, setting them up for success, best practices, organic growth, or value added. Most of those buzzwords are just that: buzzwords – ambiguous phrases to make one person seem “in the know” to junior managers who don’t know better.
No one would win a game of “corporate buzzword bingo” at that gathering. I doubt you’d hear any nonsensical buzzwords from anyone who’s actually built a business from the ground up, or from a wise veteran who has served as a mentor, or from someone who’s got the calluses and scars from actually doing the work to build a company. What WOULD you hear?
1. Be willing to admit when you don’t know something. Never try to bluff your way through. It’s painfully obvious to everyone around you. You probably know when your boss or co-workers do this. Don’t do it yourself!
2. If you’re at fault, admit it. Take any blame that rightfully belongs to you and work to correct things as soon as possible. It’s called being an adult.
3. When you’re right, never gloat. The only time you should ever say, “I told you so!” is when someone says, “You were right. I did have it in me to succeed.”
4. No task is beneath you. Even if you’re the top manager in your department, especially if you’re the top manager, pitch in and help – even if it’s a job no one else wants to do.
5. Share credit as much as possible. If you spread credit for successes around to others, you’ll come off as a much stronger person and you’ll build loyalty with your team.
6. When you don’t care for someone, never let it show. And especially if they report to you. No matter whether you outrank them or not, never burn a bridge or offend others. Your personality may grate on their every nerve too.
7. Reprimand in private, praise in public. That’s how you would want to be treated, isn’t it? Always treat each member of your team like you would want to be treated.
8. Never gossip. When someone gossips, two careers are potentially hurt, the one being gossiped about and the one doing the talking.
9. Don’t let your drive for excellence make you a jerk. There is a diminishing return for continuous improvement (another tired old buzzword). You’ll never be perfect and neither will your team. Strive for the best, but know when to let it go.
10. Keep your salary numbers to yourself. Discussing your paycheck with anyone other than your boss, human resources, the payroll department or your spouse is a complete no-win proposition. Either you’ll feel slighted because someone makes more than you, or someone will be upset with your compensation.
11. Delegate and let them work. Don’t delegate then micromanage your team. Give them the target, the standards you expect, and a completion date – then get out of the way. If they perform, praise them. If they don’t, make the needed adjustments.
12. Don’t be a second guesser. There is a lot of difference between being eyeball to eyeball with customers and sitting in a comfy office behind a computer monitor. Your team may be having to make decisions on the fly. If you have the benefit of hindsight and more information, don’t second guess their decisions.
What gems of wisdom have you learned over the years? What would you add to this list?
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