For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m Gilad, and I am honored to be featured on the Vayomar blog today. I was born in sunny California, made Aliya at the age of six, lived in lots of places in Israel, and moved back to California in 1984, after serving in the IDF. Over the years, I have worked for great companies and co-founded a few startups. For nearly two decades, I have managed development teams and groups through various changes and operations. Through trial and error and much active listening, I have come to adopt a personal management style that I find to be particularly effective. Today, I would like to share this management style with you, in the form of six best practices, or tips.
Tip #1 – Adopt a management motto and implement it across your teams
Let’s start off with an epic failure story, which pretty much sums of why I do what I do, the way I do it, today. I was already a pretty experienced VP R&D and was looking for my next position when I was invited to interview at a leading Israeli VC company. The interview went quite well, or so I thought, until I was suddenly asked about my management motto. For the life of me, I had no idea what to respond. Needless to say, I did not get the job, but the question stuck with me for several years, before it finally dawned on me. I actually did have a management motto: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way. If a task needs to be fulfilled, you should lead it, join the team carrying it out, or allow others to do so and not interfere. (Personally, I prefer to lead, but I do try to and assist when I can and stay out of the way when I cannot.)
I didn’t know what my management style was, even though I already had one. Awareness is a critical step towards management success; its absence cost me a potentially promising job. That said, I learned my lesson… now I adopt and execute my management motto across all company levels. My teams know it well, and therefore know what is expected of them, when new tasks and changes arise.
Tip #2 – Make decisions and stick to them!
Decision-making creates momentum; lack of decision-making creates stasis. The more you make decisions, the more you improve your teams and your offering. However, not making decisions teaches nothing and improves nothing. To quote former US President Theodore Roosevelt, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
In short, decision-making is the responsible thing to do, but it is just as important to stick to your decisions (unless they are proven to be detrimental to the company, of course), to maintain your reputation as a leader. An example that proves the negative ramifications of the opposite effect include grounding a child, only to reverse the punishment so that the child can go to a party; if a decision is made but never stuck to, the child learns that they can get away with whatever they want, and never learn to follow imposed rules and meet expectations. You want to follow through, so that your teams come through for you, time and time again.
Tip #3 – Make sure you’re in the know
To make decisions you need to be in the know. This is true, even if what you learn isn’t always good news. In fact, I recommend receiving bad news first, so that you are better equipped to make informed decisions.
Gather your facts, make your observations, and decide. Insisting on getting bad news first is a way to ensure that your people don’t sugarcoat information. Sugarcoating gets in the way of making the best, most data-driven decisions for your organization.
Tip #4 – Prioritize people
While decision-making is important, making decisions should never come at the cost of the people who make up your teams. As a manager, you have a duty to your people. You need to take care of them, and you need to earn their loyalty and trust. How? By providing feedback on good and less-ideal behaviors. Excellent performance should be commended and rewarded, while sub-par work and conduct should be acknowledged and dealt with in the form of constructive criticism.
To foster a positive and productive work environment, you must also take care of your people. If you want them to go the distance with you, they need to know you care about them, period. Countless studies have shown that soldiers fight for their squadmates, not for the larger military and its goals. Your people will work night and day for a manager who engages and connects with them; someone who makes themselves available when needed, and sees them as people, not as cogs in a well-oiled machine
Tip #5 – Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
To quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” There is always too much to do; one of the main responsibilities of management is to keep the course true, not steer towards those who yell the loudest alone.
Delegate and make sure that tasks are executed by those who are capable and available. Insist that anyone who comes to you with problems also proposes solutions. Then, act as a coach; explain and teach what needs to be learned and remember to watch your language: avoid phrases like “I’ll look into this,” and “I’ll check.” Such sayings will likely have you taking over the job you already delegated to someone else.
Tip #6 – See the bigger picture
To truly manage like a pro, you need to do what it takes to support your team as they complete the tasks you asked them to do. Pick up anything that is laying on the ground. Connect servers, run wires, bring pizza and drinks to the team, and, most importantly, pay attention to what else might be needed.
Remember, their success is your success and sprinting does not win marathons. With the right strategy and the right mentality, you can successfully manage your teams to success and achieve extraordinary results.
SEASON TWO OF 'THE GREATER CONTEXT' PODCAST
Ariel Halevi Hosting Gilad Gruber
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