Between this month’s ePiphany theme of management, a new intern starting today and a rapidly growing team under my management, it’s hard to know where to begin. Rather than recite what I see every day in management blogs and newsletters, I’m just going to share some things I’ve learned first-hand along the way.
I strive to lead an agreement-based life both personally and professionally. This means that I do my best to avoid assumptions and communicate directly. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about going out of your way to verify communication and understanding. Perception plays a huge part in this, as do the numerous distractions of our lives. When someone says something, try repeating back to them by saying, “Let me play back what I think I heard…”
Contracts are the most formal of agreements, and email is a mixed bag when it comes to clarity. If you find yourself going back and forth more than three times over email, you’d better pick up the phone and get to an agreement. Document the understood agreement in a simple bulleted email in which you define goals/trajectories, timelines and who is accountable for what. As with all written evidence, if something goes wrong, try to work it out without simply pointing at the contract. Contracts are not relationships. They just help us keep track of agreements.
Start with what you know but learn to be flexible. Apply the best practices you’ve learned and do what you know works well for you. But always be open to the idea that something can be done better, because I guarantee you it can. Open yourself up to ideas from your team. They will be good, relevant, and “free.” They will also make your team feel more influential in your organization, which is increasingly important with younger generations.