Hiring Wisdom: The Ten Commandments of Magnetic Managers

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The #1 reason great employees quit is because of their managers. That’s why we often hear: “People join companies, but they leave their managers.”

Managers can be “guilty” of many things: sins of omission (not acknowledging outstanding performance, failing to keep a promise, etc.), sins of commission (favoritism, criticizing in public, etc.), and of the sin of accepting mediocrity (“A” players don’t want to work with or cover for minor leaguers).

At a recent seminar, I asked over 300 attendees how many of them had a great boss. Over 75 (about 25 percent) raised their hands.

The cost to pry someone from a magnetic manager

I then asked that group, would you consider leaving that great manager and taking a new job if someone offered you five percent more money? No hands went up. “How about 10 percent more money?” Still no hands. “Fifteen percent more money?” About 20 hands went up. Finally, for a 20 percent increase, almost all of the rest of the hands went up.

Bottom line: It takes a lot of dough to pry great people away from “Magnetic Managers.”

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So, what makes a Magnetic Manager? Research studies, employee surveys, and my field work, agree, the following are The 10 Commandments of Magnetic Managers:

  1. Thou shalt manage people the way they want to be managed, not the way you want to manage them. (Some prefer lots of coaching and collaboration while others do their best work independently with minimal feedback.)
  2. Thou shalt not fail to be generous with recognition. (Acknowledge every job well done.)
  3. Thou shalt communicate. (Keep everyone in the loop and on the same page. No hidden agendas or information withheld.)
  4. Though shalt insist on accountability. (Hold yourself and each of your team members accountable for accomplishing specific goals and tasks.)
  5. Thou shalt fail fast, learn fast, and fix fast. (We learn far more from our failures than our successes. Whether it’s a pet project or a bad hire, cut your losses immediately, figure out what went wrong, how to never repeat it, and fix it. If the fix doesn’t take, repeat the process.)
  6. Thou shalt never settle for mediocrity. (Your best people will always do their utmost to meet your expectations, so make your expectations specific and keep them high. Then don’t negate their efforts by keeping mediocre players on the team.)
  7. Thou shalt teach your people how to manage you. (Do you thrive on constant interruptions and have an open door policy or prefer scheduled meetings?)
  8. Thou shalt not ever shoot the messenger. (If the battle is going badly, the people on the frontlines will know it first. Ask lots of questions and encourage the troops to keep you abreast of both the good and bad news. See #5 above.)
  9. Thou shalt be a mentor. (Your success depends on your team members. Find out their goals and aspirations and do all you can to help them achieve them.)
  10. Thou shalt remember to make work fun. (Friendly competitions, celebrations, traditions, team t-shirts, the joke of the day, a bell to ring when something great happens. Put on your thinking cap. No one leaves the party when they’re having fun.)

This was originally published in the August 2012 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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