Did you ever see someone great at their job, and they get promoted to manager, and you know they have no idea what they’re doing?
That was me – when I went from customer service to customer service manager.
I felt like I couldn’t make anyone happy.
If I made my boss happy, my employees were mad at me, and if my employees were happy management was made at me.
One day I went to lunch with Bob who was the top manager in our company.
I asked him, “How do I become a great manager like you?”
He put his soup spoon down, looked me in the eye and said, “All you have to do is three things!”
“Number one, tell your employees what to do, how to do it, and what happens to them if they don’t do it!”
“Number two, find out what your boss likes inside and outside of work and start doing it.”
“Number three, get into work before anyone else and leave after everyone.”
I’m thinking “man that sounds horrible.” But I didn’t say that to him.
I said, “Bob, I was thinking more along the lines of telling my employees what my goals are, working with them to achieve them.”
He laughed and said “yea – that’s what everyone thinks at first but - it doesn’t work.”
I figured what do I have to lose. What I was doing wasn’t working so I’ll give it a try.
And you know what?
Productivity went up and costs went down fast.
But it didn’t make me any friends.
In fact, I overnight went from being the young guy everyone loved working with to the snot-nosed kid know it all, that no one wanted to be around.
I didn’t feel good about myself.
I don’t know if this ever happened to you but one day Nancy my top customer service person came to my desk with a pile of papers in her hand and asked me how to do something.
About half way through my explanation I said, “Tell you what Nancy, let me have it – I’ll do it – It’ll take me longer to show you how to do it than me doing it myself.”
I took her pile of papers and put them on my pile and got back to work.
Before I knew it, I looked up from my computer and I was the only one there.
Then Bob walked from the kitchen and said, “hey Mike I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”
I looked down on my desk and still had a pile of papers, hours’ worth of work.
That’s when I realized that just to keep up, I was coming in earlier and working later.
Forget about personal life. That was long gone.
I don’t know if you ever felt this way, but I knew something had to change, or I was going to have to change careers.
I couldn’t do this anymore.
I decided I was going to find a way to get the same results, but achieve my goals by working with my employees and get them to do the work.
So, I started reading management books, management articles and I even went to a few of those one-day management courses, you know the ones at hotels.
I tried lots of ideas and found two concepts that when I put them together, it got my employees excited to fix problems, do the work and not hate me.
So, I started using this system for everything.
All of a sudden, some of my top employees started to come to me with ideas on how to get more work done.
I actually was able to leave work at a normal hour.
Life was good.
Then, Nancy came to me and said, “I can’t do it anymore if something doesn’t change, I’m going to have to quit.”
I looked at her and said “Nancy two days ago you told me how great things were running. What’s changed?”
She said, “Yea they are running better.”
“But it’s only better because me and a couple of other people were pulling ALL the load.”
She said, “Mike you’re not holding EVERYONE accountable anymore, and It’s not fair!”
I felt myself getting defensive when I realized she was right.
I was so happy things were running so well and leaving work at a normal hour that I ignored the major flaw in my system.
I stopped holding everyone accountable.
I was bummed out.
But I couldn’t go back to the way things were.
So, I started looking for a way to get the same results but hold everyone accountable without having everyone hate me.
During my research I discovered an easy system that holds people accountable and here’s the best part.
They take responsibility for their job.
Now, if they didn’t achieve their goals it wasn’t my fault it was theirs.
I tried it and it worked!
Life was good again!
One day Bob and I were at lunch.
He seemed nervous and I wondered what was wrong.
Then he said, “how do you do it?”
I said, “do what?”
He said, “get the results you get and have your team so happy to work for you.”
“Plus, you don’t seem to be living here anymore”.
I gotta tell you the fact that my management mentor was asking me for management advice made me realize I was on to something.
And that system I developed by combining three separate ideas together is now the foundation for what I call the Atomic Management System.
You probably don’t have the same management titles that I had or maybe you work in a different industry but if your managing people, the Atomic Management system applies to you.
Unfortunately, most managers learn how to manage by using what worked for them in their old job.
It’s so difficult to be successful that way because the skills you developed aren’t always effective in your next position.
But the essential skills you need when managing and leading people are universal.
I used the Atomic Management system to manage customer service, purchasing, warehouse workers, delivery drivers, and sales.
I know it works because I spent 27 years developing, perfecting and mastering it!