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I was excited when author, entrepreneur and fellow management consultant Greg Blencoe called and asked me to preview his new book, The Supermanager. The final product is a short story about an extremely successful manager who imparts his wisdom to a recent college graduate who has entered a large electronic company’s management training program.

This "super manager," who runs a local retail business, has been managing people for years and consistently has highly productive, motivated, and happy employees. He distilled his methods for successfully managing people into the following seven principles which he shared with the management trainee over the course of several one-on-one sessions.

The Supermanager’s Seven Principles

# 1: Surround yourself with high-quality employees

  • The people you hire are EXTREMELY important
  • Define exactly what you want in an employee
  • Look everywhere for high-quality employees
  • Hire for attitude, train for skill

Ultimately, most of what you as a manager can accomplish is through your employees. So the only way for you to be successful is to get them to be successful.

# 2: Train employees well

  • Remember what it is like to be a new employee who needs training
  • Encourage lots of questions
  • Explain the big picture to employees
  • Continue to share information with experienced employees

When employees start a new job, the experience is a lot like a person trying to walk through a room that is totally dark. Part of your job as a manager is to "turn the light on" for employees: training them to the point where they can do the job well on their own.

# 3: Communicate the end result you want, then empower employees to achieve it

  • The role of the manager is to get things done through other people
  • Employees must be trained before they can be empowered
  • Hold employees accountable by confronting unproductive behavior

Once the initial training period is basically over, you want to empower employees so they can do the job on their own. However, in doing this, a manager must adapt her style and methods depending on the capabilities and experience of each employee.

# 4: Lead by example

  • The most effective way to teach employees how to act is through your own example
  • When you want employees to act a certain way, apply that standard to yourself and think about how well you live up to it

You should not ask your employees to do anything that you are not willing to do yourself. If you do, then you are facing an uphill battle. The line "Do as I say, not as I do" should not be used by managers.

# 5: Listen to employees

  • Uncover problems
  • Get employee suggestions

Being a good listener is one of the key abilities of an effective manager. Listening to employees’ ideas can be a tremendous morale booster for them and it communicates that you value what they have to say. But let them know upfront that you may have to agree to disagree about some of their ideas.

# 6: Praise good work

  • Positive reinforcement of actions usually gets those actions repeated
  • Recognize the good work done by all employees
  • Celebrate employee birthdays (and/or other important milestones)

Sam Walton said that "Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune." Take steps to demonstrate that you appreciate their good work and that you care about your employee as a person.

# 7: Manage each employee differently

  • Employees have different abilities, needs, and preferences
  • Take a customized approach with each employee in order to make them as productive as possible

Would you use only one tool from your toolbox or one utensil in the kitchen? Just like you shouldn’t play a round of golf with only one club, you shouldn’t try to manage each employee the same way. Mary Kay Ash said "We are all different. A good manager will recognize those differences and treat each person as an individual."


Learn and incorporate these seven principles into your management practices and you’ll go a long way toward being a highly effective manager.

Thanks Greg for including me in on an early "peek" at this book – and I look forward to your next one.