Are You on the “Good” Manager List?

As a teenager, I used to stay up every night to watch Dave Letterman’s “Top 10 List” with my dad. It was one of those good memories that I have as a teenager with him. We’d watch and laugh, then I’d kiss him goodnight (I did that until I was 18 and moved out) and then go to bed. Those were good times.

Almost 30 years later, I’ve got a different kind of Top 10 List. Let me explain…

Remember getting up in the morning those days in high school or college, and thinking about what class you had that day, and more importantly, what teacher(s) you had that day? That made a huge difference on what you felt heading to class. If you liked the teacher, you’d be motivated. If you didn’t, you’d find a way to get sick and skip class.

The same thing was true for me when I got in the car business. Waking up and getting ready for work, I’d always have to think, “who is the manager working today?” If it was Todd, I’d look forward to going to work. Todd was fun and made working fun. Sure, his idea of fun always included soaking someone’s chair with a cup of water before they sat down, painting the finance manager’s phone with sharpie so that it left a black ring around his ear, or slamming a golf club on your desk when you least expected it. Even through all of that, he was fun to work for. If he was working, I looked forward to the 12-hour day ahead.

Other managers were different. They either were on serious power trips, fell asleep on their desk while you were talking to them, or just didn’t care about what was going on in the dealership. If those guys were working, I wasn’t working any extra time that day.

I carried those thoughts with me once I became a manager, a GSM, and then General Manager/Partner.

I always wondered what my team thought about coming to work. Did they think, “man, I hope Shack is working today. It will be a good day if he’s working today?” Or did they think the opposite, “it’s Thursday, thank God Shack is at the auction today?” Honestly, I thought about that almost every day. I’m sure there were some people who dreaded the thought of me being there that day, but I like to think that most of my team was glad when they saw me at my desk as they arrived for work.

This brings me to my top 10 list. One easy way to look at leadership is by realizing that everyone that comes to work for you has a their own list. They actually have two. One list is the 10 reasons they look forward to coming to work, the other is the 10 reasons they don’t want to be there. My point really is simple, what list are you on as a leader?  You need to be one of the reasons your team looks forward to coming to work for you.

When you are on that list, you can ask things of your team that you wouldn’t expect otherwise, like giving extra effort, going the extra mile or helping to train newbies.  It’s a nice feeling when you know that one of the reasons your people are looking forward to working today is because of you.

On the other hand, if you are on the other list, you find that it’s harder to get those “extras” out of your team. They become clock watchers. They don’t give more than they are paid to give. Their outlook and demeanor are different. Their “energy” is lower all around. That’s a tough list to be on…or to get off of.

If you find that you are struggling to get on the right list, or if you want to make sure you stay on it, here are some things that might help you as a leader today:

  1. Live a life that’s worthy of respect. Your team will never love to work for you if they cannot respect you. Be a person of high character.
  2. Be a better coach than you are a manager. Stop worrying about confirming your title. Come alongside your team and roll up your sleeves. Get out of your office and into the workflow.
  3. Recognize your team’s strengths. Build up your team members around what they are best at. Encourage more of their best attributes. When you see something that’s good about them, recognize it specifically.
  4. Value people over profit. “Profit is not a bad word” was what I always heard. We all get that. But the best way to turn a profit is to reduce turning over your people. Put your focus on making yourself and your team the best people they can be. You’ll be surprised how the profit follows.

Do these things regularly, and you might just make another Top 10 list, “Top 10 Best Managers I Ever Worked For.”

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