GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Manage by Walking Around by John Kuhn and Mark Mullins co-authors of "Street Smart Disciplines of Successful People: 7 Indispensable Disciplines for Breakout Business Success."
To truly maximize productivity, you have to know what's going on with your team.
Don't insulate yourself; get out of your office and have more interaction with your people.
They may be telegraphing frustrations that you're missing.
Only through face-to-face engagement will you know what is really going on. Always have your finger on the pulse of the people that you're working with, including subordinates, employees, partners, and the management team. Check in with as many people as you can at least once a month.
We call these Dynamic Immersion Sessions. After a bit of small talk ask, "How are you feeling about everything? What do you think about…? Do you have any issues or concerns? What are the biggest hurdles you're facing right now, and how can we help? Is there anything management can do to help you do a better job?"
Create what we call luminosity.
Through your questions, illuminate people's core concerns. People want to know that you have their interests at heart. Keeping their happy quotients at a high level is a vital component for maximizing productivity.
(Read More: Napping at Your Desk — Now Made Easier!)
Periodically, ask people to report on certain issues, projects, and so forth that you deem appropriate. Get their opinions with their personal spin. We always stress the importance of participatory management, and we want, expect, and welcome the good, bad, and ugly news from everyone.
When you ask people for feedback, let them know you don't want a fluffy report. You need real feedback, and it should include what you do well, what you do badly, and where you should focus on improving. We are so serious about this feedback that we make it part of the employee's job description and are never deaf to constructive criticism.
(Read More: Want to Get More Done? Get Out of the Office)
You'll be surprised how much you'll learn with direct, honest, and open engagement.
Achieving Breakout Success in business has everything to do with how you treat your people. After you define your company's goals for the year, share them with every person, making it clear you want them to make the company goals their goals and to develop their own action plans to achieve them.
An excellent way to keep the momentum going is to have them submit a monthly and quarterly report with goals and a list of actions steps necessary to achieve them. In our businesses, we always have our managers meet with their direct reports once a week to give and get feedback. In addition, they discuss their weekly goals and to-do lists.
You don't have to be a strict taskmaster. Allow people to do their jobs, and don't hinder their performance with useless managerial interference. But definitely check in to get an update and to determine if anyone needs help, direction, or inspiration. (These meetings should last no longer than fifteen to thirty minutes.) This system keeps people focused on accomplishing their weekly and long-term goals and shows that you are in the trenches with them.
You might be thinking that this is control-freak micromanaging. Call it what you will, but somebody needs to keep the trains running on time, and that somebody is you. This continual feed-back system has worked well for us and many of our clients over the years. It makes everyone—especially you—more efficient and truly maximizes company-wide productivity.
(Read More: The 12 Most Underrated Jobs of 2012)
About the authors: Mark K. Mullins has years of successful corporate executive experience and is a serial entrepreneur with a long history of accomplishments. He is an innovative business builder with over thirty years of success in startups and corporations. Mark was executive vice president and partner of the American Park Network (APN) with co-author John Kuhn.
John worked as a sales and marketing executive at the 3M company and as Chief Operating Officer at a publishing division of Meredith Corporation. Additionally he was cofounder and president of the American Park Network, and also was the founder and CEO of Buenos Aires Metropolis. Presently, he is president of Devenoge Highland Properties, a real estate company in San Francisco, and Punta del Este, Uruguay.