Last week, we started our discussion of higher education management practices and principles with a discussion of mindset, goal-setting and planning. This week, we’re continuing that discussion with how to create a culture of accountability and personnel management. Have some thoughts you would like to share? Email us or comment below. We’d love to hear them.
Create a Culture of Accountability
Discuss your expectations for communication, dress, attendance and conflict resolution with your team in a collaborative, open way. Write these expectations down and share them with the team. Don’t babysit your team, but rather ask them to hold each other -- and you -- to these standards.
If an employee is struggling, don’t be afraid to coach them early and often. Notice I said “coach” and not “micromanage.” You can’t be the quarterback and the receiver at the same time.
Know how to reinforce the behavior you expect in a way that is friendly, but clear. I have found the One-Minute Manager’s simple classification of redirects vs. reprimands very helpful.
- A redirect gently puts a team member who doesn’t know any better back on track
- A reprimand directly addresses a team member who should know better
Finding the right balance between too tough and too relaxed takes time and will vary depending on your employees, but, no matter how many times you feel like you got it wrong, you have to keep trying. Your engagement with your employees is what makes the difference. The more time you spend coaching and teaching them (not micromanaging, the better they will perform). It’s not your job to do everything. It’s your job to teach everyone.
Oh, and keep score on your annual and term goals in a public and team-friendly way. Your measurements are worthless if you don’t keep them in people’s minds. Imagine a scoreboard at a basketball game: That’s what you’re going for.
Hire and Fire Like a Boss
Your ability to hire and fire is the primary difference between you and your employees, and yet, many managers are really, really terrible at it. Many hire too quickly and fire too slowly (if they fire at all).
Let me make this clear: A toxic team member will cost you good employees and ultimately will cost you success, which will eventually cost you your job. They will still be there. It is your job is to ruthlessly and unapologetically hunt out employees who are lazy, non-collaborative, or unethical.
You might think this will make you unpopular, but, usually, it’s the opposite: your smart, motivated, high-performing employees will come alive now that the dark cloud is gone.
Hiring is equally important. Here are a few things I look for in candidates
- Can they express themselves clearly?
- Are their writing skills excellent?
- Does their body language or their answers give cause for concern?
I always try to hire up, meaning I like to prefer to hire people who are smarter, more disciplined and creative than I am, and I encourage you to always do the same. Some people worry that these people will take their jobs. My response: They should, as soon as you get promoted for hiring such smart people.
This is important: I cannot stress the importance of diversity in hiring. Hire gay people, black people, Hispanic people, white people, men, women and any other group I left out (so long as they meet all the criteria I listed above). Having different voices with different experiences is the right thing to do, and from a management perspective, it is an effective way to rid your office of groupthink that inevitably crops up when you have a room full of NPR-listening, Warby Parker-glasses wearing white people making decisions.
Another key management principle is to receive feedback thoughtfully. After reading this article, what do you think? Are there techniques I missed? Are there experiences you can share? If so, leave them in the comments section. I would love to read them.
Darren White is the principal consultant for D. White & Company, a higher ed consulting firm that specializes in marketing and management training. Want to schedule a training session with your team? Let’s do it. Contact us and let’s get started.