The Way We Work

The keys to successful management come from the lessons learned early in life. Will sharing your cookies make you a better manager? It just might!

Here are five things any kindergartener can tell you, and every manager should know:

1. Share With Others. And by this we mean delegate. You can’t do it alone. Share the workload by assigning tasks to the capable employees you should be surrounding yourself with, share all the vital information (but not anything that puts the company at risk) needed to make the project a success, and then loosen your grip long enough for them to own the tasks and be effective. Sharing is caring — about the big picture!

2. Clean Up Your Mess. When a project doesn’t go well or an employee is not functioning in a way that is beneficial for your company, it’s time to clean up. You go back to square one on the project and figure out what went wrong — and don’t just focus on where others went wrong, check your own role as well. Likewise, when necessary, you’ve gotta let your workers know they must start doing a, b and c if they want to continue with the company. No one likes cleaning up a mess, but it’s a necessary part of management.

3. Don’t Take Things That Don’t Belong To You. Never cheat, lie or steal to get ahead, and this includes stealing ideas, swiping copyrighted materials to meet your budget, or ripping off contract workers by taking advantage of sample work and not hiring them (no, no, no). Do not take things that don’t belong to you. This includes other people’s work.

kindergarten advice two4. Don’t Hit Others. Things go wrong. Software stalls. Life gets hard. There are a lot of reasons you might “hit” an employee with an angry email or with biting words on a conference call, but lashing out at others is not okay. There is a difference between being the sort of manager that says what needs to be said and being the sort of manager that wounds others with her words. Control yourself and learn other ways of blowing off steam (like jogging or recreational kick-boxing), so that when stress is building, you stay calm and your relationship with your team stays solid.

5. Say You’re Sorry When You Hurt Someone. If you think being a manager means never having to say you’re sorry, you’ve got another thing coming. The mark of an exceptional manager is the ability to take responsibility for your actions. If you’ve blown it, be the first to say so, not the last. If your procrastination or even your lack of communication have caused an employee to not be able to do his job properly, admit it. But don’t just give lip service to reconciliation, make things right by immediately taking the steps to change, clean up your act and move forward. This inspires both transparency and loyalty in those who work for you. Model the sort of behavior you want from those you manage, and you’ll begin to see it reflected in them.

Any simple words of wisdom that have made you a better manager? Tell us in the comments below.

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.