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Since you can’t please everyone, please as many as you can

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in The Savvy Office Manager

“You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

So go the lyrics in Rick Nelson’s 1972 smash hit “Garden Party.”

But hold on. You’re a manager. That means your job no longer is just about you, it’s about those you direct. So get off the stage (“Garden Party” is a song Nelson wrote in response to being booed off the stage in Madison Square Garden) and focus on making things more pleasurable for your employees.

So, your goal: Aim to please as many as you can.

Here are some tips to keep the boos down to a minimum.

Treat employees as equally as practical. As you probably suspect, the ability to mete out equal treatment is in inverse proportion to the size of the crowd you’re dealing with. So this gets more complicated as the team grows. Some workers need a kick in the pants to get started; others need their egos stroked, and thus, you can’t treat them all exactly the same. The trick is to avoid obvious displays of favoritism or indifference.

Include everyone. If you’re looking to tweak a policy or are fishing for suggestions or ideas, don’t keep consulting with the same few. That’s the quickest way to create factions. You want and need everyone’s input. And what’s more important, your employees want to feel that they had an opportunity to contribute. Call for a quick huddle to get everyone’s thoughts.

Tell one, tell all. Got some fresh information about the company? Keep everyone in the loop, even if the news doesn’t affect some. An email to all will cover this. Your goal is to let everyone know the same thing at the same time. Tell them to come see you if they have any questions or need clarification. The last thing an employee needs is to hear company tidbits from his or her co-workers.

Have their backs. No employee should ever feel that you, for self-preservation, would throw them under the company van. Those are your workers and they need to believe that you won’t forsake them when they’ve done something wrong, but with good intent. Defend them when it’s warranted. You do hold sway over their livelihoods.

Don’t forget the bagels. Or pizza. Or anything else they can eat or snack on that tells them that you are thinking about them. The important thing here is you don’t have to necessarily link the treat to a specific accomplishment. It’s not SeaWorld. And it’s also ineffective if you do it regularly, like, say, every Friday. They’ll come to expect it, and it’ll be pretty hard to stop, without firing up the rumor mill. Surprise them now and then. Tell them, “Let’s take a break. You deserve it.”

And in the words of Rick Nelson, “But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.”


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