Open Letter to My Past Bosses: Things Managers Should Know in 2016
Before starting my job at Sage, I went through my fair share of bosses. I’ve been lucky enough to be managed by great people, but nobody is perfect.
After writing about things I should tell my boss, here are things my past managers should consider to become great leaders.
A need for more transparency
I’m a strong believer in transparency in business.
I’ve been pleased to see many startups like Buffer share this idea, but larger organizations are far behind.
A lot of managers still think they only got hired for their skills, and believe growing in a company means keeping information to themselves. I would argue that sharing information and your knowledge can only make you and your team stronger.
Sharing your knowledge won’t make you weaker. Most of us have been hired to do a job that some people could do, other wish they could, but mostly nobody has time to do! Sharing the information won’t change anything. Your company still needs someone to do the job.
I bought this PowerPoint template, but don’t tell anyone we haven’t created it from scratch. It’s our secret.
-A former manager
This reminds me of my time as a quarterback back in France. Yes, it was American football, not soccer.
My coach was a character, especially when he was on the sideline. He was very knowledgeable about the game, and loved to create advanced tactics for our amateur level.
However, we used to run the ball 90% of the time, with only a few variations. After one half, the other team would usually figure out our next plays.
My coach taught us something that was a total game changer on the field, and for the rest of my life:
Even though they know exactly which play we’re gonna run, they still won’t stop us. They won’t stop us because we’re stronger than them. They won’t stop us because we’re faster than them. They won’t stop us because we’re smarter than them. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they know our next play because we’ll execute better than they would!
-Jerome Bileau, Football coach
Don’t think too much for yourself. What makes the difference between you and someone else is execution. If someone can’t get the information from you, they will bypass you and get it from someone else. Be a team player.
Your success in a company won’t come by being an information hoarder. Shared knowledge is the new standard.
The importance of continuous learning
Some people are afraid of looking like a fool because they couldn’t keep up with the new generation. If you have twenty years of experiences and you feel left out, you’re doing something wrong. If you’re a marketer and you don’t have a good grasp of new trends like social selling, content marketing or Facebook ads, it’s time to wake up.
Whatever you’ve learned in college is outdated, could it be twenty years or two years ago! We’re in a fast-paced environment where new technologies come out every quarter. If you’re not following trends and reading blogs about your industry, it’s hard to bring value to your company.
Whatever you think about “millennials”, most of them have been used to going to the web to find new ways to solve problems. Lifelong learning is the key.
The dangers of micro-management
If you feel threaten to the point were you have to tell your team members “let me talk first” before a meeting with executives, rethink your definition of “management”.
I’ve worked for someone that did that to me several times, and it had a negative impact on my work. People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses.
Want to become a better boss and avoid micro management? Here are some DO’s and DONT’s:
- Put your team members in a position to succeed and grow within the company.
- Don’t text them on their personal phone 30 minutes after sending them an email. If they haven’t replied yet, they’re probably busy working.
- If you finally decided to allow them to work from home once a week because of a long commute, don’t ask them to send you a regular update via email every two hours.
- If you tell them to come to the office early, set the example by coming even earlier, not two hours later than the rest of the team.
- Be real and don’t come up with busted excuses when you screw up.
- Don’t present your team’s ideas like they were yours. Give them credit.
- When setting up a meeting, be prepared, on time, and avoid rescheduling three times. Set up clear goals ahead of time, and leave with outcomes, and deadlines. Don’t make me feel like I would have been better off working on actual work rather than wasting time for this useless discussion.
Are you afraid people could think less of you? Are you scared people are going to think they’re smarter than you? Could this really hurt your career?
Great leaders recognize that if your team members bring up good points, it’s because you recruited the right people. Surrounding yourself with smarter people than you is a trait of successful managers.
Flexible hours will improve your team’s productivity
In our day and age, a lot of us can work from anywhere with very little impact on our productivity. Give me a laptop and internet access, and I would work from the office, home, or a secret island, you couldn’t tell the difference.
Besides that, some bosses are still reluctant to it. If they can’t see you, they assume you’re not working. However, multiple studies show teleworking increases productivity, and has other benefits. Remember those days when you had to take “sick days”? Now, you just have to bring your laptop at home, and you’re good to go!
Flexible hours can be a gift and a curse. Micro managers might think you’re available 24/7, and won’t hesitate to call you on your cellphone when something urgent comes up. Remember to set clear boundaries.
Takeaways: Trust is everything
The business environment has changed a lot over the past decades, and managers have to evolve with it. The industrial revolution is long gone, and the 9 to 5 framework isn’t a good fit anymore. To win at business, most companies need to create value through innovation and service. Innovation can not be contained in a rigid structure, and people need freedom to be creative.
Work relationships are no different than personal relationships. They should be based on trust and mutual benefits.
When lost, please refer to How to Win Friends and Influence People for principles to follow.
What other things your boss should know?