Two Lessons We Should Have Learned in Management 101

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© HP_Photo -

An interesting book that was quite popular in America in the late 1980s was All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

The book was a collection of musings, including the title piece, which gave referenced key life lessons such as: “play fair,” “don’t hit people,” and “clean up your own mess.”

I often think we forget these major life lessons we learned when we were young when we enter the world of business. And that is unfortunate, indeed. What would be the Management 101 equivalent?

Perhaps these two lessons we should have learned in Management 101:

1. Say “thank you” — every day

Recently in Fortune magazine, Victor Lipman made this salient observation:

Just because something should be obvious doesn’t mean it always is.  Two observations after decades of management: (1) Recognition (or lack thereof) is always a key element of employee engagement; and (2) In a business environment where people are extraordinarily busy and routinely asked to do more with less, all too often successful tasks and projects are completed without  recognition for those involved.”

Pausing in our daily rush to notice and appreciate the positive efforts and results of those around us clearly communicates to our colleagues, “What you do is important. I notice your work. Others do, too. Please keep it up.” All from a simple, “thank you.”

2. Choose to make work better

One of the many benefits of blogging is the introduction to wise and interesting people I may not have otherwise known. Doug Shaw is one such person (be sure to read this recent interview/bio of him in

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In that bio, Doug describes his job (he’s a consultant now) as “I make work better.” The bio goes on to explain:

The clue to how he performs this feat is in the name of his consultancy – ‘What Goes Around’. Treat staff well and they will treat their employer and its customers well too. Reciprocity – or what goes around comes around – is the secret of staff engagement and a happy workplace, Shaw believes.”

Our attitude and approach to our work every day is a choice. I can choose to be angry, vindictive and competitive, or I can choose to be complimentary, appreciative and helpful. Guess which option makes for a happier, less stressful work day?

What lessons do you think we should add to Management 101?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


1 Comment on “Two Lessons We Should Have Learned in Management 101

  1. Hello Derek. Thanks ever so much for the kind mention, I really appreciate it. And I absolutely agree with you about choosing your attitude – it is one of the few things we can directly influence.

    I will take you up on the offer and add a brief lesson for your readers:

    What we say.
    What we do.

    Where they overlap, we get trust. That’s cool.

    Where they don’t, we get trouble. That’s what we deserve.

    Cheers – Doug

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