Over the years of owning and managing Zekiah I’ve narrowed the core values of my management down to three main concepts. The core values apply whether I am managing an individual, a team, a project or my entire company. They are discipline, affirmation and tools. Let me explain…
Discipline comes in many forms. The first and most important is setting the rules for people to work within. Inherently employees want to do a good job and clearly stating WHAT you want gives you the best chance of achieving that goal. I’ve seen too many projects go poorly because the manager at the END of the project expresses what they want and their dismay that their staff did not deduce what they wanted. Clearly stating the end goal gives you the best chance of getting there. In addition, giving the rules of the road makes sure your staff has the best chance of success. For example, if you don’t want them to work overtime to complete a project, they do and then your project’s budget is blown, it’s not your staff’s fault… it’s yours.
Just as important as telling your staff what they should and should not do, is reassuring them that they are in indeed on the right path. People want to hear they are doing a good job and telling them helps ensure they continue to do so. Employee recognition through “pat on the back” type awards, “employee of the month”, and public recognition at employee events are all good ways of making sure your employees know them and the work they are doing are valued. Simply encouraging your managers to tell employees on a regular basis they are doing a good job is even better. Don’t assume they know… tell them.
Give your employees the tools they need to do a good job. You can’t expect them to dig a hole if you haven’t given them a proper shovel. Frequently tools are tangible items like a computer or cell phone. For example, as a software engineering firm, it’s important that my employees have up to date computers and software that help them produce quality products fast enough to meet our customers time constraints and budget.
Tools can also be intangible items such as training, proper supervision, or confidence they can do the job. One of the incentives Zekiah put in place quite a long time ago was to have an education reimbursement program. Zekiah employees have up to $2500 per year to apply to whatever type of training works for them – books, online tutorials, college credits, conference fees or travel costs to get to training. Training, like many of the tools we provide our employees, is essential to them doing a good job and has the added benefit of showing our employees we believe enough in their abilities to invest in them.
Another tool for our employees is the luxury of being able to focus on their job and not worry about their health care costs or if they need to compromise their families health care due to cost. For this reason we pay for 100% of our employees’ health insurance and a good portion of their dependent’s plan as well. While certainly health insurance is not what you typically think of as a tool in a programmer’s tool box, it is a crucial element to ensure they can effectively focus on their job.
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