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Management: Big Meaning In Small Things
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Management: Big Meaning In Small Things - Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Big Meaning In Small Things

Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Big Meaning In Small Things

A few years ago, we discussed the way small things can make big differences for an employee’s work-life balance. Such details as specific technology requests or simple allowances about the morning commute ease little stresses, but little stresses can add up to a lot of tension, while alleviating them can add up to better work-life balance. A recent article at Forbes.com takes the concept a little further, suggesting that small things can have larger meanings not only in work-life balance, but in a manager’s effectiveness as a leader. It makes all the sense in the world, yet it’s easy to forget: yes, we manage projects, initiatives, and departments, but what makes us managers by definition is that we manage people. And people are wonderfully diverse, complicated beings who need regular upkeep and maintenance, even those who pride themselves on being low-maintenance team players.

Acknowledge good work

Victor Lipman, the author of the Forbes piece, doesn’t go especially deep; in fact, you’ll be tempted to say “duh” at least once while reading it, but an honest read will probably remind us all that it’s easy to let some of these small things fall by the wayside, even if they are stuff we learned in Management 101. A word of praise, for example, can go a long way. “One recent study indicated that 36% of employees considered lack of recognition the top reason to leave their job,” the writer points out, and how difficult is it to call recognize (and even call attention) to contributions and accomplishments? As long as the specific acknowledgment is sincere and meaningful, and not some vague “You’re doing a great job” or “I’m hearing good things about your work,” a positive affirmation about individual contributions to your team bolster morale, productivity, and goodwill among members of your team.

Be on time

Lipman also cites punctuality as one of those little things, and it’s also easy to overlook it as an aspect of managing people, of nurturing your team. If you’re the last one to show up for a team meeting, or if you have to keep pushing back face-to-face time with individual members of your department, you are absolutely sending a message to those who report to you. There are always a few people in every group who love meetings, but most of us hate them—they tend to be inefficient, and they interrupt the workflow. Starting meetings on time tells your team that their time is valuable to you, and that you appreciate their availability. It also underscores the importance of the meeting itself, suggesting that you’d only have a meeting because it’s necessary, and their contributions are as critical as yours.

Celebrate Birthdays—and Specific Talents

As a manager of people, you must remind your team on a regular basis that you appreciate each member for the specific contributions he or she makes, and not just work-related contributions. This person’s energy, that team member’s creativity, and the other employee’s attention to detail. One way to do this is to acknowledge birthdays. Some offices or departments go whole-hog on birthdays, treating each person to a lunch away from the office, and such attention can certainly be a big deal, but these birthday celebrations don’t have to be full-blown productions. Simply walking together to a nearby café and sharing a cup of coffee together, chatting about anything but work, with a card signed by everyone else in the group, establishes group identity and somehow makes everyone feel special. Those little personal notes signed in a birthday card can make someone feel good for a long time, if the notes are sincere and call attention to the recipient’s real gifts. A little goes a long way. It’s a time-honored truism that’s easy to forget, but not for you!


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Management: Big Meaning In Small Things - Executive Leadership Articles

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