CEO Jenni Luke

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“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Though he no longer occupies NBC’s The Office, boss Michael Smith (Steve Carell) will always hold a special place in our hearts, won’t he? Despite the fact that he always makes us smile, most “real world” bosses wouldn’t necessarily aspire to follow in his leadership footsteps.

So let’s say you’ve hired your team and are confident you have the right people in place. Before you sit back and relax (yeah, right), review this list of five tips that ensure your leadership won’t remind anyone of America’s most beloved TV boss.

  • Start with clear short term (one year) and long term (3 to 5 year) business plans. This provides measurable goals to achieve in the short term and gives long term vision for the business so that when the staff must make decisions independently, they have the proper strategic context in which to make them.

  •  If you are confident in your plans and they are clearly communicated to your team, you should be able to give them the freedom to run the operations with limited oversight. Bi-weekly individual meetings and bi-weekly team meetings serve the purpose of checking progress against goals but also enable the sharing of best practices and experiences that others on your management team can benefit from. Supplement these regular meetings with quarterly meetings focused on the bigger picture such as budget, product or program development or long-range planning so that the team members know they will be expected to contribute to this top-level thinking and planning. Giving your staff the freedom to do the work and engaging them in planning should engender a sense of ownership in the success of the business unit which is exactly what you need.
  • Quantitative measures for effectiveness are relatively simple: is your employee achieving revenue targets? Is she operating on budget? Has she developed new customers? Make sure that your measures track with the short term goals established in your business plan so that your team is very clear on their objectives.
  • Qualitative measures of skills like leadership, strategic thinking and business development instincts are more challenging. If an employee is consistently reaching revenue targets then presumably she is able to build consensus and maximize the talents of her team to help achieve goals. You may also assume that her business development skills are strong because she continue to meet sales goals. Look below the surface. Is the staff turnover high in that business unit? Are you having an easy time securing new customers but a difficult time retaining them? Ultimately this requires you to observe your team in action and solicit candid feedback from staff, vendors, customers or any other outside constituency. Only you can decide if reaching short-term revenue targets is more important than any damage to the reputation of the brand over the long-term by keeping an employee that may lack these ‘softer’ skills.
  • Even for small businesses, human resource management is necessary. Developing an employee handbook containing policies on issues like vacation and overtime as well as structured feedback regarding performance will help you set expectations with the team before problems arise, and they will arise. Annual performance reviews and an open door policy regarding complaints about managers (and a non-retaliation policy for employees who do come forward with a complaint) may seem like more effort than it is worth in a small company. Ultimately it will serve as a mechanism for you establish with your team that you won’t settle for average performance or poor behavior. It lets your employees know that you value them enough to have a process for complaints and for recognizing their contributions. It also presents the image of a company that plans to be around for a long time and is poised to grow.

While Michael Scott quickly rose to fame as a TV boss, something tells me that’s not the type of fame you are seeking as Head Honcho. Utilizing the above five points can help managers earn the long-lasting respect of their entire office.

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