Here’s the short list
#1 – Your health is your responsibility.
You can’t manage if you’re constantly sick, unhealthy, or rundown. Period. It’s very easy to eat poorly, work long hours, sleep less, and develop nasty habits. Personally, I’ve gained 35 pounds since I became a manager and I’m taking actions to deal with it. I am keenly aware that if I’m rundown, I stop being an effective leader.
#2 – Get Funny.
As a manager, it is your job to have a relationship with the people you’re managing. A few gifted devils can walk into a room and instantly connect with half the world. The rest of us are stuck as wallflowers. As a manager, you can’t lead without having a good relationship with your team. The problem is that you and your team come from very diverse backgrounds, and most likely have nothing in common other than you all decided it’d be great to work in the same proximity to each other daily.
But don’t worry, I’ve found a hidden buddhist koan to help people connect:
“Jokes – especially bad, corny jokes – are the common denominator to all people and cultures.”
Once you become a manager, go out to your local bookstore, dig through the $.99 bin, and buy the corniest joke book you can find. The cornier, the better. How do you know if it’s a good joke book? Here’s a hint – if your 5-year-old nephew likes the jokes from that book, it’s a winner. Memorize as many of those jokes as you can, then slather your team with them like mustard on a hotdog. I guarantee this is the bedrock to forming a bond, and from there forming a working relationship.
(Oddly enough, pickles are also a common denominator to all people and cultures.)
#3 – Your boss’s solution is horrible.
If I am your boss, and you come to me with a problem, I promise you that my solution will be horrible, unfair, probably vague or complicated, but most importantly, ineffective to solving the problem. Odds are you are closer to the problem, so you are closer to the solution. Now, that’s not to say that your boss is useless – on the contrary! Your boss is an excellent sounding board for shaping ideas, he/she is a sympathetic ear, and he/she can walk you through the ramifications on strategies that you might not see. Your boss is your advisor and trusted confidant, but you are the manager and your job is to at least present some solutions to problems as they arise (hence, why you’re a manager!) If you’re looking for your boss to magically and neatly solve your problems, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
#4 – The job is hard enough.
“The manager’s function is not to make people work, but make it possible for people to work.” – quote from Peopleware. ‘ The job is hard enough, you don’t need to drive your employees mad by overloading them on status reports and random acts of micromanagement. ‘Nuff said.
#5 – The work is the work.
If you are at work, you are working. You are the first one into the office, last one to leave, and if your team is in another physical location your skype/hangout/cell/email/pager/carrier pigeon is open to receiving communications. “Offsite meetings” does not mean “I get a half-day!” “Traveling long-distance” does not mean “vacation.” “Drinks with clients” does not mean “we’re getting bent on the corporate card.” “Work-From-Home “does not mean “I’m doing chores and checking my email every hour or so.”
Bonus rule – If it’s unclear who’s at fault, then it’s definitely your fault. You can’t have responsibility without accountability!
These rules work. I know, because I’ve broken each rule during in my career and I’ve suffered the consequences. Feel free to add on to your own personal rules as you go, but this should get you started.
PS – if you’re not a manager, do #2 anyway. The world needs more corny jokes spoken out loud. Pickles are a bonus.
PPS – This guy came up with 101 rules! What…the…heck?! http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/insidecrm/the-managers-cheat-sheet-101-commonsense-rules-for-leaders-53515