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Tips for Managing People

Tips for managing people

Tips for managing people

Managing other people can be a difficult job. Other people have the tendency to not always do what you want them to do. They say things you don't want them to say, they do things you don't want them to do, and they don't follow the plan that you agreed.

And in addition to other people being sometimes difficult to manage, there is also the fact that you may never have done any serious study on psychology, philosophy, economics, management skills or negotiation skills. Consequently, you are basing your management performance on a combination of common sense, trial-and-error, natural talent and guess work.

Most people run their whole lives on the same mixture of elements; common sense, trial and error, natural talent and guess work.

But if you want better than average results, that won't be enough. It would be beneficial for you to spend, at least some time, asking the following question and trying to come up with some considered answers:

Question: How can you get the best from yourself and others?

Your task, as a manager, (or a boss, or a friend, or a parent, or a teacher, or a salesperson,) is to get the best performance possible, from other people. You need to get their best answer, their best ideas, their best efforts, and the very best from the others around you. If you can inspire others to give their best, then everyone wins.

If you cannot get the best from those around you, then nobody wins.

So, what are the principles and skills and knowledge that you need to learn, in order to satisfactorily answer the question: How can you get the best from yourself and others?

Here is our first answer; in order to "get the best from others" it is important that you.

  1. Be clear
  2. Be rational
  3. Be positive

This means: be clear in your aims, treat all people and all problems according to the principles of reason and, within reason, be as positive as the circumstances will justify.

This one sentence contains three major terms: clarity, reason, and positive emotion.

But each of these three terms contains two sub-sets, so we will then have six pieces of advice, thus:

  1. Be clear in terms of the goal that you are trying to achieve.
  2. Be clear in terms of all your communications; both spoken and in the written form.
  3. Build rational plans of action that are designed to achieve the goal. Communicate the plan to everyone and make sure they each know the plan and their part in it.
  4. Not everyone will like the plan, nor will everyone implement the plan as agreed, so expect there to be some conflict. This conflict should be managed according to the principles of reason, not according to your mood, or your emotions. Run conflicts on reason, not emotion.
  5. Positive emotion means that you are able to manage your own mood. Meaning; you are always able to put yourself into the most resourceful state, and that you don't allow circumstances or other people to throw you off balance, and make you afraid, or angry, or bitter, or over confident. You are the master of your own soul, and the director of your reactions.
  6. Positive emotion also refers to your ability to inspire positive feelings in other people. Positive feelings of self-confidence, goal focus, ambition, intelligence, creativity; and at the same time, to avoid triggering negative emotions in the minds of others, emotions such as anger, resentment, bitterness, revenge, loss of confidence, feelings of being stupid or incompetent; feeling inadequate.

So we have six major pieces of advice.

  1. Be goal focused.
  2. Strive to be an accurate communicator.
  3. Strive to plan ahead and always have detailed plans of action.
  4. Strive to handle conflict according to the rules of reason.
  5. Strive to manage your own mood and be as positive as you can.
  6. Strive to instil a positive mental attitude in the minds of all those with whom you come into contact.

Let us make some more specific tips relating to the top two elements above; let's make 5 Tips relating to goal focus; and five tips relating to better communication skills:

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Five tips relating to goal focus

  1. Every day, write out your six "major definite goals" onto a piece of paper and think about how you will achieve them. Never leave your house without two things: a definite goal and a detailed written plan of action.
  2. Every 15 minutes, ask yourself whether the current task that you are on, is contributing to your major definite purpose, or not. If it is not contributing to your goals, then it is, relatively, a waste of your time and energy.
  3. Ask other people the following question: "What are your goals for the next three weeks?"
  4. Let your imagination go wild and ask yourself where you could be in ten years, if you put your mind to it.
  5. If you find yourself mentally drifting, aimlessly, with no real sense of goal focus, for more than a week, slap your own wrist and get back on track.

Tips relating to communication.

2. Structure your message. In order for other people to understand and agree with your message, it must be well structured, well ordered.1. Become a good speaker and writer by working hard to use only accurate language. Don't use vague ambiguous language. If you have a choice between two options, then choose the more specific way of expressing any idea. For example: don't say "Jon has an attitude problem". That formulation is too vague and tells us nothing specific about Jon's behaviour. Instead say, "Jon has been late for every team meeting for the last two weeks". This formulation of words expresses more exactly Jon's behaviour and therefore is a better way of expressing the thought. Always try to use the most accurate form of language that you can.

Good order and a sound structure are inherent in any successful undertaking. Disorder and chaos always leads to failure. The same principle of order and structure applies to communication. If you want to be a successful communicator, then it is important that you commit yourself to organising and structuring your message, according to some logical framework. Do not allow your communication to become a fragmented, bitty, disorganised jumble of miscellaneous ideas thrown together by chance.

Structure your message.

The structure that you use depends on what you are talking about. But a common example of structure is chronological order: Time forms the basis of your structure: what happened first, then what happened second, then what happened after that, and so on....

3. Limit your message. Recognise that everyone has a limited capacity to absorb and to retain information into the memory. After a certain point, they reach their mental limits and they cannot take on any more information, in that session. So it is important that you limit the amount of information. Don't say too much. Give people sufficient information, but don't give them too much. More information is not always better for the understanding. Make sure you give people the most important information, in a logical structured way. Cut out the non-essentials, and make it as simple as it can be. This will aid understanding and memory.

4. State the affirmative. Recognise that there are two major classes of things that you could talk about.

Things that do exist. (The affirmative) and things that don't exist (the negative). The advice is talk in affirmative terms, as much as possible.

Talk about what you will do. Talk about what the plan is. Talk about what the goal is. Talk about what you do like.

Don't spend too much time talking in negative terms; don't keep talking about what you can't do; don't keep talking about what you don't like. Don't keep talking about what you won't do. We don't need to know what you are not going to do, and why; we are more interested in what you are going to do and how.

5. Become a good listener. Become a good listener by actively trying to memorise what the other person is saying. Don't let the words just go in one ear and out of the other. Really focus your attention and try to memorise what they are saying. You don't have to agree with them, you don't have to like it, but you should at least remember what they said.

You can improve your attention and your memory by actively trying to visualise what you are hearing or reading. Visualisation is the act of forming vivid mental images, in your mind's eye, of the ideas that you are listening to. If you do that on purpose, then you will find three things will happen.

  1. You will listen more intently.
  2. You will remember much more of what you hear, or read, and
  3. You will understand more of what you hear and read.

We will finish the blog here, but please recognise that there is still much to do. We have not yet discussed, time management, conflict management, self-motivation, nor leadership.

These are all skills that need to be developed.

If you are interested in improving your management and leadership skills, then please attend our two day leadership and management training course, listed above.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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