The No. 1 thing every company needs to do better

Turns out bad managers abound in Colorado

Do you love your job, or do you hate it? When you love your job, you feel fired up, excited, on the lookout for errors, positive about what you have to say. But when you hate it, you’re hard to manage, you generally don’t give much a care if things start to fall apart, and you’re not really having that much fun.

We get thousands of hits on our website to a phrase something like, “I hate my job, Boulder”. We work with about 1,000 people a year because so many people hate their job and want to find something better.  I opened Turning the Corner because I wanted to make work better.

We’ve been open now for  nearly six years, and I want to share with you my perspective on what it takes to be successful in running a business. You – as a leader – make or break your teams with the way you lead. I want you to lead better.

Did you know that the Denver metro area was ranked as the worst place to work in the country? Yep, did a survey and the results weren’t pretty for the Denver area. It’s a great place to live – but not a great place to work.

I have known this for years, but I didn’t feel like I had the data to really back it up, but now I do. We ask every one of our job seekers, “What do you need from a job?” And we know that the No. 1 reason that someone leaves a job is truly because of – what? – a bad manager. And unfortunately, Colorado is full of bad managers.

Let me tell you want happens in corporate America. You get sent through months or years of training before you might be considered for a management role. By the time you actually become a manager, they know that you’ll be a darn good one. Corporate America, with all its faults, does management right.

But us – the small business community – we do not do this well. We think that anyone who is talented in their job can be a good manager. This thinking is causing our companies to be less successful, is stifling innovation, and we are bleeding people.  We have to do better. So what does it take to be better?

No. 1: Recognize that managing is a special skill that is generally not “born”. This is a skill that is learned.  These are the things that make a great manager:

  1. They understand that every situation requires a different management style to inspire different behavior for employees.
  2. The manager has enough confidence in themselves and enough Emotional Intelligence to understand their trigger points, how they trigger others, and most importantly, how to manage stressful situations.
  3. Which means that they are good at navigating difficult conversations. Practically none of us are born with the grace to be good at difficult conversations, but with focus and practice, we get better and better.
  4. But a good manager will also understand the intrinsic motivators for each employee and make sure that they are helping set goals that align with what the business needs and what the employee needs.

When these things come together, you have a manager that will do a better job with your employees. You have employees that are closer to loving a job. 

No. 2: Believe that people want to do a good job, but if you don’t hire right, it won’t matter how good you are.  Defining the why of your organization, the guiding principles like your values, and then hiring, firing, and training against those values is the second step.

No. 3: And finally, the third step to being a more successful leader is realizing that you are not the leader you need to be a year from now. As your company changes, you have to change too. What works today will not work in a year from now unless everything is exactly the same. Very few of us get into business to keep it the same. If we want our businesses to grow, we have to grow too.

Here’s what I recommend:

Start by investing in your people. The companies that are investing in training for their managers see immediate returns in less turnover and higher engagement.  Also, invest in yourself. I spend close to $10,000 a year on coaching, conferences, classes, etc. Every year I am forced to face my blind spots, think more strategically, and grow. My growth has resulted in my business growing – don’t you want that, too? 

Categories: Management & Leadership