Disclaimer: The author cannot be held responsible for any unwanted consequences, direct or indirect, of your breaking the rules.
That said, there are quite a few well-established workplace rules and customs that every manager should try to break – at least once.
Here are my 12. Can you think of others? Add them in the comments section.
1) Pick One Thing And Do It Well
Sure, you can pick one thing and do it well, if your job is tap dancing. Or horseshoes. But if your job is managing a team of people, it’s good to pick one thing and do it well and then pick six other things and do all those just as well. You’ll be better for it – and employed for longer periods at a time.
2) Big Risks Reap Big Rewards
What are you, a cliff diver? No, you’re a manager. Don’t be foolish. Come back in here off that ledge and help get your team through another successful day. There’s a lot that can go wrong in a busy organization, and you’re not even going to see it coming if you’re too self-absorbed by the thrill of plunging off a sheer cliff just so you can fancy yourself a risk-taker.
3) Don’t Put Off To Tomorrow What You Can Do Today
That really depends, doesn’t it? Especially when it comes to sharing information. You want to be sure to get the most impact from delivering it in the timeliest fashion. So, if it’s going to have a better impact in the morning, it’s best to put it off.
4) Squelch The Rumor Mill
I’m often surprised that this poor bit of advice persists. You hear it all the time: How to stop the rumor mill. How to squelch the rumor mill. Put an end to the rumor mill, once and for all. But you really can’t, so don’t try. You’ll just beat your head against the wall. If people are going to gossip, by the very nature of the definition, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But you can feed it. Feed it honest, useful, refreshing and insightful information, and at least you can help control the rumor mill, and move it in positive directions.
5) Never Let Them See You Sweat
While it’s true you don’t want to go around day after day appearing exhausted and stressed by all the work you do, there are times you want to be darn sure the powers-that-be get a good long look at you working very hard, even sweating it out. And then see how well you handled it! You can’t beat that kind of exposure.
6) Trust Your Gut
We all hate admitting when we’re wrong. Hence, managers don’t always fully appreciate how many times they trusted their gut, and got it wrong. So yeah, trust your gut, except when you shouldn’t. And if you don’t know when that is, well, it’s your gut so you’re on your own.
7) The Customer Always Comes First
We can all agree the customer comes first, just not always first. Bad customers don’t come first. Customers who verbally abuse or harass your staff surely shouldn’t come first. And there are days that great employees come first. In fact, a great piece of advice is to treat your employees like your best customers and your business will reap the rewards.
8) Always Play To People’s Strengths
I particularly love this piece of advice, but again I take issue with the word always. Good people grow best when put in positions outside their knowledge base. It’s been said we are all prisoners of the familiar, right? So sometimes it pays to push people in directions they might not feel suits them.
9) Encourage All Opinions And Ideas
That can be a long day right there. And on the days you do have that kind of time to commit, by all means unleash your benevolent side and sit and listen. But there should be a point at which attentive managers know how various people on the staff feel about particular things that you can’t or won’t change. So in those cases, you should NOT be encouraging them by asking their opinions.
10) Treat People The Same
I stole this, because it is worth repeating: “Your ability to fairly and deftly manage the particular needs of individual employees and provide a unique experience that leaves each team member feeling valued, is the ultimate goal.” It’s also the opposite of treating everyone the same.
11) Don’t Take Sides
No? Don’t take sides? That’s hard not to do on important issues. Just ask the people who’ve run Switzerland over the years.
12) Don’t Hire Friends And Family
I’m sure there are strong opinions on both sides of this one, but I say go for it. People close to you care about you and your success. They will be more open with their opinions (which you will certainly need to manage) on things. But they’ll also be generally more trustworthy than outsiders. And while you are sure to have some contentious times, they should have your best interests at heart.
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Gwendolyn Glovers says
I could not download any of your free materials. Clicked on “download now” and material did not download. Please assist.
John Walston says
I sent you a private message.
Interested in downloading the Performance Review Checklist but nothing happens when I click the button.
John Walston says
Michelle, I emailed it to you.
Hi, great article! Had the same problem in trying to download the performance review checklist – can you help?
John Walston says
Sheba, I emailed it to you.
I really appreciated the article! It was well written, humorous and insightful. I have struggled against many of those ‘rules’ in my career and have broken all of them at one point or another, but I never felt that it hurt the situation. I think common sense rather than hard and fast rules make a better work environment. Being able to adapt to the situation and the differences in people are far more important, in my humble opinion.
Thanks again for the good info!
Rich Henson says
Thanks for your comment, Roxanne. I like what you say about being able to adapt to different people and changing situations. That takes real skill!
I like the thought process. Would like to get the download but same problem as those before me.
I tried to download the manager’s guide to leadership and nothing would come up like the others. Great article. Thank you for that fuel for day.
John Walston says
I emailed you the guide. take care, john
I broke rule 12 and was very stabbed in the back by a niece who, after we had a deadline established, pulled out of a new project, I only took the project because she had the specialty skills needed. I will never break that rule again because they do NOT have your best interest or even your back.