Thursday, November 21, 2013

Five Management Fundamentals

It’s a sports cliché – because it is true, and it is true in the working world as well.  Winners are the ones who get the fundamentals right.  Management is complex, but here are the five fundamentals to make sure you get it right:

1.  Set Clear Expectations.  It makes common sense and it is backed up by research (1).  Make sure that your direct reports are perfectly clear on what you expect of them.  This includes job descriptions and lists of responsibilities, but also those often “unwritten” expectations.  Write them down.

2.  Set Goals. Setting goals that are connected to expectations improves performance.  This is also backed up by research (2), but it is truly remarkable how often managers don’t do this with direct reports!  Set them annually and quarterly, then follow-up.  Check here for advice on goal setting.

3.  Provide Encouragement and Appreciation.  It is the right thing to do and guess what, research (1 & 3) on leadership and management demonstrates that it leads to higher levels of performance.

4.  Establish an Environment of Mutual Trust.  Recent research (4) found that what people want most from a leader is honesty.  And we know that this is the foundation for building mutual trust that creates an environment for high performance.

5.  Share the Vision & Mission.  In the same research (4) referenced above, the #2 thing people want from a leader is for them to be visionary – or forward thinking.  This does not mean you have to give an “I Have a Dream” speech at every staff meeting.  Simply help remind everyone of the big picture regularly.  Why are we here?  We can all easily lose focus on this with the business of daily work.  Remind people of the difference you are there to make and the future you are building together. 

Print this and tape it to your wall at work so you don’t forget.  Follow the five fundamentals and you will build a winning team that truly makes a Mission Impact.

(1) First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, 1999.

(2) A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, 1990.

(3)  The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes & Barry Posner, 2012, 5th Edition.

(4)  James Kouzes & Barry Posner, “To Lead, Create Shared Vision,” Harvard Business Review, January 2009.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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