Finance guru Jean Chatzky has a new book out called The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times (Crown Business).
I asked her to distill some advice for managers, and here’s what she had to say:
What’s the difference between successful managers – and not so successful ones? Successful managers (and bosses and executives) are those who inspire others to do their best for work them – often for less than their true value.
That’s something I learned when researching and writing my new book. And if this quality is an asset in a good economic environment, it’s a necessity in a bad one. If you can rally the troops to innovate, think flexibly, and work hard after you’ve informed them that there will be no raises this year or – worse – that the entire company is going to a reduced schedule, you may be able to keep your company afloat while others fail around you.
The question is how do you inspire this sort of attitude? Know that there are two things that, if not more meaningful to your staff than money, might actually come pretty close:
1/ A connection with you. Your team will be more driven to perform if they believe it matters to you personally. Let them in to who you are as an individual. Ask them about themselves and listen well enough to follow up with some sort of thoughtful, if inexpensive, gesture.
2/ Autonomy. Anything you can do to encourage your team to feel as if they have their own fiefdoms – from setting their own hours, to working a day from home, to being able to move their office furniture around – will enable them feel as if the job is theirs. They’ll take ownership in their work. And that pride of ownership will drive them to do a better job.
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