Knowledge is not always power. Many people have brains filled with data that is not only useless, but worthless because they either use it to prove how smart they are to others, or they waste it by doing nothing with it at all. Why is it so tough for people to find a good balance within themselves? Truly, I feel, it is because they have not been trained to output this data. All too often managers will gain a piece of data that is confidential. They will hold onto this data as a false sense of power. They hold it deep inside and grin under their smiles knowing that they know more than the members of their team. Often they even insinuate to others that they have data that is confidential and position themselves as the only person of the group worthy of having the data. The test of a solid manager is their ability to manage themselves and know how to balance the data they are given. How much information will drive success and how much will have a negative effect.
Being a good manager means you have to take the good with the bad. People will respect you for your ability to deliver good and bad news. But, your ability to deliver data starts and stops with you. Clear communication to your staff creates a cohesive and reliable channel for your community.
You can not expect your team to deliver data up to you if you do not deliver it down to them. Each Monday I write a ten point update for my team and the managers above me. It is a weekly way to keep the staff up to date on what is new, what was good from last week and what to expect in the weeks to come. In these updates I am honest, sincere and matter of fact. I also try to include one small tid-bit about my week or weekend that truly shows I am human. Perhaps I share about a funny thing that happened over the weekend or I share a funny joke. If you can not come up with ten things that have or will happen in the week to come, you have just found your first stumbling block as a manager. These weekly reports are brief and not detail driven. Upper management will ask for more information if they need it. Do not use a weekly update to hand down policy changes or vital information. Deliver the update via e-mail and also post it to your intranet. Never under any circumstance discuss personnel issues unless they are of a public nature. Do not use these updates to deliver bad news about staff or personal issues.
Communication is critical to your success. Build a quick list of staff e-mails in your address book. Also, build a separate list of your entire staff plus senior managers above you. These two lists are used for different reasons. The staff only list would be for e-mails that contain issues that are important for staff, but not needed by management. For example, a note about forgetting to shut off the copier at night. In almost all other cases I use the list that includes everyone. Even if I am leaving early I send out a quick note. If I plan on being late the next day or a warning about dress code violations. The management above you needs to know that you are doing your job and taking care of business. Also, management above you wants to know where you are and what is going on. It is vital for you to push enough data to them so they can keep a “pulse” on your operation. This gives them the ability to interject if needed because they may have information they have not shared with you too. The secret is keeping the notes very brief.
In doing so, these “mass” all staff e-mails do not apply to personal violations by staffers. If Jim Smith is always late to work, then call him on it. Don’t send out a mass e-mail telling your entire staff to get to work on time. If a person is violating the dress code, step up to the plate and call them on it, don’t churn the rest of the staff for things they have not done. This is a huge error and happens very often. As I am guilty of this offense, I can say the respect from my teams has grown ten fold since stepping up to the plate and calling people out. In doing so, you will address the problem and open up a door for dialogue with an employee.
Ryan Dohrn works as a General Manager of HorseCity.com for Morris Communications Company, LLC in Augusta, GA. Ryan Dohrn gives insights on how you, as a manager, can inspire greatness, fix problems, meet goals and increase the overall productivity of your team without being a jerk. The content of this blog is the private work of Ryan R. Dohrn and not that of Morris Communications Company, LLC. All rights reserved, copyright 2005- Ryan R. Dohrn. Please share this blog with others. But, permission to reproduce all or parts of this blog for profit must be granted in writing by the author. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org An Atom formatted XML site feed of Ryan's blog can be found at: http://ryandohrn.blogspot.com/atom.xml