Executive Suite: Five Golden Rules of Management, Part 1

You are alone at the top, but you cannot manage your company alone. Whether you are an official or not, you need a management team. You need a team that will be unified under your leadership; one that will perform as a team with maximum commitment. To do that, you need the Five Golden Rules of Management. I have used them often; once in turning around a huge printing business in New York City.

You may well have some very good people—hard working people with good character—but they often disagree and all too often dissension develops. This does not mean you have the wrong people. It does mean they are operating in an unhealthy system. You must gain control of this group and forge loyalty and unity. Essentially, you do it by employing five rules. We will discuss the first three today.


Rule 1: Support Me

Make clear to your people that you have no problem with occasional disagreements with some of your thinking, but that you must have their support.

Now spell that out in negative terms. You will not tolerate any backstabbing, undercutting, sabotaging, or gossiping about you. If you detect any of that, you will address it immediately. In fact, your attention will turn from turning the company around to getting them out.

And mean it. Make certain every team member you have is someone who will support you without equivocation.

If they have any issues with you, and there may very well be some, they must come directly to you about it. They most certainly are not to go to another manager or worker about it.

In turn, pledge your support of them. You will not engage in two-faced, undercutting behavior toward them. They will not have to look over their shoulders pondering what may be happening to them politically. You will be their staunch advocate as well as a candid communicator.


Rule 2: Support One Another

Absolutely no backstabbing, sabotaging, grudge-holding, or gossiping about one another. No give here either. When someone has issues with any other member of the management team, they are not to come to you or to any other manager or employee. They are to address the issue squarely with the colleague in question.

Furthermore, you must assert a closed door policy; refusing to hear any grievances about any of them from any of their workers or colleagues until you are satisfied that the persons involved have spoken directly with one another about their concerns and were unable to reach a resolution. Only in that case, will you put on your referee’s whistle and make the call.


Rule 3: Be Candid

You are not blessed with a particular divine insight, so you need their input. They must offer it candidly and in the context of human respect. This means zero-tolerance for expressions of disagreement after the fact if the person remained silent during a meeting at which an issue was discussed.

Candor is important. A team member should be both an independent thinker and willing to share her independent thoughts with you. If she is astute and competent in her knowledge, her insights will be of inestimable value. But her ideas are just that, her ideas. They are not company policy unless you make them so.

Let your management team know that you will be much more inclined to remove someone who is covert with you or a colleague, projecting a mere persona of agreement and harmony, than if he or she respectfully expresses disagreement with one of your directives or an opinion of a colleague.

These three rules must be non-negotiable. They will eliminate the man hours lost to office politics and sabotage and create a clear channel of communication among those who will direct the operation.

I will discuss the last two rules next month and how to get the group’s commitment to the Golden Rules. But for now, get ready to close the circle.


Dr. David Claerbaut is a consultant to the graphic arts industry, focusing on workplace dynamics and employee relations. Give him a call at 702-354-7000.