ProduKtive Blog

How to Manage People with 3 Simple Strategies

Mar 16, 2017 | Business Strategy, The ONE Thing

how to manage people

If you’re in a leadership position in a business, reading and implementing the principles of The ONE Thing could be a transformative move for your team. It’s particularly effective if your people have struggled in the past to meet their deadlines and budgets, to produce quality work or to get along with each other. You can use The ONE Thing to overcome all of those challenges, learn how to manage people effectively, and more.

(Not familiar with The ONE Thing yet? Get your copy here and find out why it’s sold over a million copies helping people answer one all-important question: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?)

Leadership in any team requires patience, focus and a servant attitude — but those things are much easier to come by when we know how to manage people and have good systems in place to help us get the best out of them. Let’s unpack 3 strategies you can use to lead your team and empower your people.

#1: What’s Your Team’s North Star?

You can think of this as setting The ONE Thing for the team — the single goal, the endpoint to a project, or the key metric of success for an ongoing process.

For example, your business’s North Star might be to “Consistently sell houses for 5-10 percent more than the seller expects, so that we become the trusted go-to real estate team in our area.” The team can then measure every action against this clear goal — “Will this activity help us sell this house for more than the seller is expecting? Yes or no? If it’s no, why are we doing it?”

To find your North Star, your team has to be on board with the idea.

You need to help them understand The ONE Thing concept, and get buy-in from them — they need to own this process as much (or more) than you do. Create a time block to explore the goals of the business, and then have them settle on the key goal.

They also need time to identify their individual ONE Things — what is the one thing they each need to focus on in order to meet that collective goal?

#2: Time Block To Success… In Bunkers

“Great businesses are built one productive person at a time.”
— Gary Keller & Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing

Time blocking can be very powerful when you encourage your team to use it on their individual ONE Things. This is the process of marking on your calendar the days and times during which you will tackle a specific task. If it’s a one-time thing, block off the specific dates and times. If it’s an ongoing task, block off the appropriate time every day so that it becomes a habit.

Everything else waits until this priority is handled.

Now, distractions are inevitable, but our teams can shield themselves from being affected by building bunkers. This is basically creating a space around themselves in which interruptions and distractions (from others or from within) are limited as much as possible.

Here’s how bunkers work:

  • Locate the bunker: We go to a location that is quiet and ‘low-traffic’. That might be an office with the door closed, a spare meeting room, or a cafe away from the rest of the team.
  • Store provisions: We bring our supplies, snacks and beverages, and anything else we could possibly want during the time block. The aim is to avoid having to leave our bunkers for any reason, until The ONE Thing is done.
  • Sweep for mines: Phones should be off and out of sight, social media and email tabs or applications should be closed, and we should have headphones if need be to block out any unexpected noise.
  • Enlist support: We need to communicate to the people around us that we’re going into our bunkers and need to be undisturbed until we emerge. It’s important that this is communicated in view of the North Star — that we’re working towards our ultimate success, not hiding away from people who need us.

It’s important to understand here that as the leader, you have to be the one that encourages this behavior.

Most team members are going to be scared of this — it means saying no to things, to scheduling meetings and appointments later in the day once everyone has done their block. You have to acknowledge that sometimes your priorities won’t come first, trust your team to work on the right things, and leave them to it.

#3: Build Accountability In

Accountability is one of the most powerful tools in any area of life. If we tell someone we’re going to do something, and know that they’re going to hold us to it, we’re much more likely to do it. It’s easy to let ourselves off the hook, so having people who keep us on track are extremely valuable.

It’s the manager or leader’s role in a business to provide accountability and support to their team.

Jonathan Raymond, an expert on accountability in business, shared his insights on Episode 16 of The ONE Thing Podcast about how to transform accountability into a gift to each of your team members, how to handle it with kindness and a focus on growth, and how to create a culture of mutual respect and progress.

Accountability works so well because it creates feedback loops. We take an action, we get an outcome. We look at the outcome, and decide the next action. That process works much more effectively when we look at each action and outcome with a peer, mentor or manager. We often get stuck in our own perspectives, and having fresh eyes with some objectivity and different experience can help us see where we’ve been having troubles and how we can do things differently.

In his book The Effective Manager, a bestselling book on how to manage people in any kind of business, Mark Horstman recommends having weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports.

This gives them the opportunity to bring any problems, ideas or questions to you in a safe space (and stops them interrupting you multiple times every week, since they know they’ll get dedicated time). It’s also an opportunity for you to keep them accountable, to help with their feedback loop, and to make sure they’re on the right track, for both the short and long term. We call this a 4-1-1 meeting — 

Leading a business is a profound opportunity for growth and success. Using these three strategies, your people will be more focused, more effective and more engaged. They’ll trust you more, you’ll trust them more, and together you’ll be able to achieve great things — whether that’s a single ONE Thing or multiple ONE Things over and over again in succession.

To help your team make the most progress possible, download the 66-Day Challenge Calendar here, and distribute it to everyone.

This calendar is designed to help us build habits (which takes about 66 days), by marking off each day we do our ONE Thing with an X. The unbroken chain of Xs becomes a game — we don’t want to break the chain, so we do our ONE Thing. Get the calendar here to set your team up to win.

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