“People are people” the old saying goes. That means everyone brings their own personal baggage with them to work. People make poor choices, act rashly and defend their own comfort zones. People have agendas all their own that often have nothing to do with the work agenda that you, as the manager, are promoting.
Sometimes the selfish and petty things people do are no surprise. Some employees repeat a behavior that has been seen before many times if you let them. Infighting, jealousy, jockeying for position and defending turf are pretty normal behaviors. Sometimes the selfish and petty behavior is quite a surprise.
In contrast, every workplace has people who perform well, take care of themselves, are supportive of others on the team when needed and keep below the radar.
The best managers try hard to motivate and guide their people to meet agreed-upon goals. Procedures, protocols and guidelines are put in place to help keep things fair and organized. Feedback, motivation and direction are given. But at the end of the day, good managers realize that there is no good way to manage people.
But since managing people is the key to any business success, you have to try anyway.
There are many books on people management, and you may have practiced all the different styles. If you boil down all the great people management advice as much as you can, there are really only two things to do. One is to make sure your staff is getting ongoing training, feedback, correction and motivation for all their work-related behaviors. The other thing you can do is to leave your people alone and let them work. The trick is to know when to do which with each person.
Here are some ways you can try:
Know Your People
Leave Well Enough Alone
There are times when your people just need to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days you will work hard to mold people’s behavior and performance when what they really needed was to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days you will leave people alone when what they really needed was to be working with someone. Try to ask yourself each day, who needs time from me today? Ask yourself who needs to be left alone?
If you allow yourself to admit that there is no good way to manage people, you can do your company a lot of good by trying to be a better manager every day. Work on best practices, get to know your people, communicate personally, and above all leave well enough alone. If you try too hard to manage people or if you go too far in attempting to manage behavior, you’ll end up throwing your hands up in the air and declaring there is no good way to manage people!
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