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Management 101

A few years ago I knew a gentleman who was a troubleshooter for a well known high street retailer.

His job was to go to branches doing badly, find out what was going on, fix the problem and get the store reaching expected profitablility targets again.

I asked him what kind of things caused problems.

He said there is usually only one – the manager. Nearly always an under performing store had a manager who was not doing their job effectively. The mistake many people make when they become managers is to think their job is to tell everyone what to do.

I asked, “What should they be doing?”

He replied, “What a lot of people don’t understand is what makes a good manager is being a good servant. Their job is to make sure staff have everything they need to do their jobs well. It involves training, having the right tools, the right clothes, breaks with a clean and maintained staff room where they can relax and prepare drinks and eat food, being able to tell people when they weren’t doing their job to an acceptable standard, and fire people who repeatedly weren’t doing their job despite help, training and final warnings. They also need to create a feedback loop so staff can improve the way things are done and see those ideas shared with everyone. If you do all that you will have a motivated team working together, happy to work toward company targets.

It reminded me of something I read in Theo Paphitis’s autobiography. He is one of the original Dragons from the Dragons’ Den and owns Rymans, Dyas and Boux Avenue. He has made a business out of buying failed or failing retailers and turning them around. He hates Management Consultants. Never uses them.

He said that if you want to find out the best way to run a business, go and ask the people working in them; they will tell you for free and will know what they are talking about. Although often you first have to get them on your side especially after being ignored by company’s management who never asked them and often treated them badly.

When he took over one company he quickly discovered none of the staff rooms in all the outlets had a fridge or microwave. He immediately had both installed in all stores. The next week when he started visiting stores and talking to staff, they already liked him, and liked him even more when he wanted to know what he needed to do to help them make their store successful again.

And as someone who runs a Mindfulness Course (Online, Wednesdays, 10-11am it strikes me that all this advice is good for managing a team but also for managing ourselves.

We need to give ourselves the right training, have the right tools, the right clothes, have breaks in a clean and well maintained environment where we can relax, prepare drinks and food, be honest with ourselves when we’re not doing our job to an acceptable standard, and quit when we are not happy doing something.

Management 101!