Free Advice to Workplace Managers

Personnel management is something of an industry in itself. Colleges, universities, and for-profit diploma mills all across our great country churn out MBAs by the hundreds every year. And every year, there are hundreds of books on management published, along with  thousands of seminars, conferences, and the like. You might even say it's a science, with many popular methods of quantification having taken hold across multiple sectors of the economy.

But management doesn't have to be all that complicated. In fact, ordinary people without advanced training or a long reading list can master the art of good management (and I contend it's really an art), as long as they adhere to a few simple principles:

  • Don't be a jerk for no reason.
  • If there are written rules, follow them.
  • If there are verbal rules, follow those too.
  • Treat your reports fairly and don't play favorites.
  • Don't sleep with your staff.

While these principles may seem obvious to you, in my many years as first a manager and now an employment attorney, I've been astounded by the number of otherwise well-meaning managers who cannot manage to follow them -- and find themselves in deep legal trouble as a result.

Ultimately, you can minimize the inherent difficulty of management (people are messy and complicated, after all), if you just stay consistent. And that's my free advice for the day. Take it as you will, but please take it.