Improve Your Management Skills By First Improving Yourself

Today we’re going to breeze through 4 simple ways you can improve your management skills–starting right now.

I called him on the phone.

I introduced myself and spent a few casual minutes building rapport…

…then I asked one question that changed the course of our relationship forever.

His facial expression was the only thing missing from what I knew was going to be a real conversation. 😮

“What are you currently doing to become a better manager for your team?”

The pause told me everything.

It’s a question I must remind myself as I grow a startup.

Executing vs. strategizing is a difficult balance. Those of us building seem to always be in the weeds, onboarding the next customer, developing the upcoming piece of software, or improving some process. Often times we forget to prioritize the most important person in the business first, you (me).

First, Why is the job of a manager so incredibly difficult?

A recent New York Times article on President Obama’s evening routine includes this vignette:

“There is time, too, for fantasy about what life would be like outside the White House. Mr. Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago but remains close to the president, said he and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions.

During difficult White House meetings when no good decision seemed possible, Mr. Emanuel would sometimes turn to Mr. Obama and say, “White.” Mr. Obama would, in turn, say, ‘Medium.’”

We may not be leading the free world, but our unique roles have their own set of strains and stress.

The conclusion from the NY Times article was that President Obama’s evening hours are for him. It’s where he can read and think — and it’s a priority.

These are similar activities you should do to improve management skills. To be a great manager, you first must focus on yourself. Only then can you truly lead to the best of your ability.

4 Ways to Improve Your Management Skills By Improving Yourself

1 – Read. Not just blog posts.

It’s ironic I write this…from a blog post.  Yes, some blog posts are incredibly valuable to our particular niche or industry, but what are you reading that makes you think differently? What thinking patterns make you different than the manager two offices over?

Bill Gates has his summer reading list.

Here is what his bridge-playing-billionaire buddy, Warren Buffett said when replying to the question: ‘How do you get smart?’

Buffett held up stacks of paper and said he “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”

“I just sit in my office and read all day.”

Buffett estimates that he spends 80 percent of his working day reading and thinking.

The Omaha World-Herald writes:

“Eventually finding and reading productive material became second nature, a habit. As he began his investing career, he would read even more, hitting 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.

Combs discovered that Buffett’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job — seeking the truth about potential investments.”

Takeaway Today: begin a reading journal and document how many hours a day you are reading and what you are reading.

2 – Maintain a Growth Mindset

As we get older and more mature, many of us get set in our ways. We develop beliefs that may never be changed.

Stanford psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, describes the difference and findings via Brain Pickings:

Fixed Mindset – “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.”

Growth Mindset – “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.” (Source)

A Growth Mindset creates and fuels a desire to learn rather than seek acceptance. A core philosophy is that intelligence, skill, and creativity can be improved upon, dramatically, with focus, discipline, and practice.

Takeaway Today: Next time you decide not to attempt something out of your comfort zone or normal routine, quickly uncover why and see if has to do with a fixed mindset.

3 – Examine the Time Spent with Your Team

Have you ever wondered why that one team member is veering off of plan? Before diving into their calendar, take a sincere look at how much time you spend with them.

In 2014, Leadership IQ published a study titled: Optimal Hours with the Boss’ Study.  They surveyed 32,410 managers, executives, and employees from the U.S. and Canada to find the answer to two simple questions:

  1. How many hours per week do people spend interacting with their direct leader?
  2. How many hours per week should people spend interacting with their direct leader?

The findings were astonishing:

Almost half the people surveyed spend less than 3 or fewer hours a week interacting with their direct leader. Approximately 30% surveyed spend 6 hours or more.

The results from the study were of little surprise:

  • People who spend 6 hours per week interacting with their leader are 29% more inspired than people who only spend 1hour per week interacting with their leader.
  • People who spend 6 hours per week interacting with their leader are 30% more engaged than people who only spend 1hour per week interacting with their leader.
  • People who spend 6 hours per week interacting with their leader are 16% more innovative than people who only spend 1 hour per week interacting with their leader.
  • People who spend 6 hours per week interacting with their leader are 15% more intrinsically motivated than people who only spend 1 hour per week interacting with their leader.


Before pointing the finger at one of your direct reports, first think introspectively on the time you spend with them. Reflect on the quantity and quality of communication you have with them. 1 on 1 meetings are highly leveraged activities for this point.  

Takeaway today: Review your calendar over the past month. How much time did you spend with each direct report on the team? 

4 – Put in a Process to Maintain Discipline

When a manager commits to something there is a sense of pride and ownership in that commitment. If her team witnesses it fizzle out, it’s an indication of how they execute on other goals. Maintaining discipline is a requirement for all managers who prioritize developing their team from individual players to team all-stars.

Developing people takes time, stress, and energy. Imagine being the The POTUS!

People inherently do not enjoy conflict. Avoiding pain and discomfort is natural and easy.

In Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, he explains it’s the “whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning.”

“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.”

Back to having a growth mindset, we are able to comfortably embrace these problems and challenges because deep down we know growth is in us and the conflict we will soon confront.

In order to systematically challenge the status quo and embrace conflict we must put a process to maintain discipline.

According to Peck, there are 4 simple tools you can use to maintain discipline:

  1. Delaying Gratification –  “Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.”
  2. Accepting Responsibility – “ can solve a problem only when I say “This is my problem and it’s up to me to solve it.” But many, so many, seek to avoid the pain of their problems by saying to themselves: “This problem was caused me by other people, or by social circumstances beyond my control, and therefore it is up to other people or society to solve this problem for me. It is not really my personal problem.”
  3. Dedication to Reality – “Superficially, this should be obvious. For truth is reality. That which is false is unreal. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world.”
  4. Balancing – Balancing is the discipline that gives us flexibility. Extraordinary flexibility is required for successful living in all spheres of activity. Balancing is a discipline precisely because the act of giving something up is painful.

These four tools of discipline will help you maintain the framework required to be an extraordinary manager.

The self-improvement takeaway

Identify today which tool you use the most to maintain discipline in your current state and choose one that you’ll use more often.

Being a great manager first starts with the manager and their skills and habits. Reflect on how you’re improving your management skills, so you can impact your team.

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The Sandler Sales Method – a Comprehensive Overview

If Predictable Revenue is the new school of sales methods, then The Sandler Sales Methodology is old school.

In this post, we’ll be diving into the Sandler Rules–what they are, what this method of selling is, and why it’s incredibly effective.

First, what is the Sander Sales Method?

Let’s start with comparing a Sandler sales rep from a “normal” sales rep.

Typical Sales Rep = spends time focusing on getting buyer to say “yes.”

That seems pretty spot on, yes?

Sandler Sales Rep = spends time focusing on QUALIFYING buyers beforehand–so that getting a “yes” is 10x easier once closing begins.

The entire Sandler methodology is built upon a less pushy, “salesy,” aggressive process–and instead lets salespeople assume more of an advisor role, knowing that their prospects are highly capable and motivated before the calls take place.

What are the Sandler Rules?

Developed by David Sandler, a sales genius, these “rules” present an intensely intricate, yet easy to understand sales method that plays off traditional sales techniques.

The Sandler Rules is comprised of 49 rules, developed from Sandler’s sales training program. The rules often seem contradictory or even condescending, but they are sure to boost your sales productivity. Rather than describe every rule, below is a summary of some key themes in Sandler’s sales method.

Examples Sandler Rules:

Sandler Rule #7: You don’t have to like prospecting.

But you DO have to do it 😉

Sandler Rule #35: If your competition is doing it, stop doing it right away.

You should never copy your competitors. Stand out and differentiate yourselves from them.

To read all 49 rules, you’ll have to pick up the book on Amazon! We highly recommend it.

When it Comes to Sales, Clarification is Key

Too often, salespeople lose the sale because they see things differently from the prospect. Salespeople have what Sandler calls “Happy Ears,” meaning they only hear what they want to hear. Don’t make assumptions and leave things up in the air. The prospect may see something from a different point of view than you so don’t be afraid to ask what something entails or means to them.

Sandler also emphasizes at multiple points that prospects lie.

It’s not because they’re bad; it’s completely natural. For this reason, take a lot of what they say with a grain of salt, especially regarding decision-making (be sure you know who has the final say) and their problems (people don’t like to expose their vulnerabilities).

Finally, for reasons of politeness or just because human nature, prospects can be very misleading when it comes to saying “no.” When a prospect tells you that they will “think it over,” they typically mean “no.” So, make sure to get a definitive answer out of your prospect, and if they do choose to move forward, make sure to verbalize what the next step is, so all is clear.

Deal With Failure; It’s Inevitable

Getting a yes is awesome, and it feels great, but most of the time, the answer is going to be no.

If you can’t deal with this failure, you can never advance as a salesperson. The ability to deal with failure is one of the most defining characteristics of a good salesperson. Don’t blame the prospect for your inability to sell. Take responsibility for your failures and persevere. Be sure to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them and you will improve and become a better salesperson.

Let Them Do the Work

You should constantly be asking questions. Your job is too get them to tell you as much as possible so you can best understand their situation. The key is not to tell them what you can do for them, but rather to let them figure it out for themselves. So don’t spend the whole call trying to explain all the great features that your product offers. If they want that, they can visit your website or read a brochure. You however, are not a brochure and the prospect should do the talking for about 70% of the sales call.

Another Sandler Rule: Answer Every Question With a Question – If you answer directly, you could get caught in the traps hidden within the prospects’ questions.

Don’t Close, But Always Be Closing

Salespeople are often taught to ask for the close. While getting the sale closed is the ultimate goal, you shouldn’t be pushing or asking. Rather than try some cliché closing technique that may just anger the prospect, shepherd them towards the close. That doesn’t mean you assault them with their problems and tell them what you think they need. Use questions to help them realize that they would benefit from using your product.

Always remember the ultimate goal though, and that is money.

If the prospect is not cooperating, a closing technique may be necessary. If the sales cycle is taking too long, a prospect is stalling or isn’t getting anywhere, then don’t be afraid to let them go. Know when to move on. Despite what many salespeople think, there are always more prospects, so don’t waste time on the bad ones.

WideAngle is One on One meeting software used by companies including General Electric, IBM, AT&T, Google, and many more to make sure One on Ones happen, are productive, and documented.

The Top 4 Sales Questions | The Basics of SPIN Selling

One of the top sales books is unquestionably Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. Explaining the types of sales questions is an integral of SPIN Selling.

Credibility and insight is drawn from actual research. In a pundit-filled internet, Rackham’s book is timelessly refreshing. We’re taking a look at the acronym of SPIN in this post.

His research found that successful salespeople have a traceable pattern of types of questions they ask.

Let’s explore:

First, What Is SPIN Selling?

SPIN selling is simply a framework of questions to help navigate a sales call.

These are questions designed to get to the heart of a discovery call–and allows both the prospect and sales person to better discover if there is a good fit for the sale!

It is NOT a series of sneaky or psychologically complex questions designed to trick anybody into a sale at all costs–quite the contrary. SPIN questions simply continue the conversation in such a way where the prospect discovers their true need for your product–sale or not.

Here’s a Breakdown of the SPIN Questions

spin questions spin selling

Situation Questions

These questions are focused on understanding the situation of the buyer.

  • Where are they at on their journey?
  • What have they been feeling lately?
  • Are they in a certain situation that makes them need your product?

Learning more about the background and facts of the buyer not only helps build rapport but also equips a rep with valuable information that can be used in the future. Rackham suggests keeping situation questions to a minimum.

Example Situation Questions:

“Could you tell me about your company’s goals in the next 18th months?”

“What company are you currently using?”

“How many people use your current software?”

Problem Questions

Successful sales folks transition into these types of questions ASAP.

Exploring problems and dissatisfaction in areas where your product can help does numerous things:

  • provides you a better understanding of your market
  • helps you realize the level of value you could potentially bring to them
  • builds trust with the buyer in demonstrating your knowledge of the problem.

Problem questions are the best way for a prospect to get more clarity on their current needs!

Example Problem Questions:

“How much time of your day do you spend on that activity?”

“How difficult is it to perform that task?”

“What is lacking in your current setup?” – also an implication question. See below.

Implication Questions

More complex sales have these types of questions attached to them.

Implications questions take the problem that you’ve already diagnosed–and explore their effects or consequences. Truly skilled sales reps know how to do this well. It takes critical thinking, tact, and deep industry insight.

Example Implication Questions:

“How many leads do you lose a month using your manual process?”

“How does that problem affect morale/sales/turnover?”

Need-payoff Questions

Top sales performers understand the goal here is to get the customer to tell you the benefit of your solution.

The need-payoff questions help paint a picture of “what could be” with your solution.

Great salespeople not only relay the features and benefits of their offer–but literally get prospects to imagine what their life would be like AFTER the sale.

Example Implication Questions:

“If we could minimize the number of lost leads by 10% a quarter, how much increased revenue would that bring to your organization?”

“How do you feel a more organized system would help you?”

“You said this widget might help–is that just because of the direct benefit, or is there something else as well?”

SPIN Selling Questions Can Be a Handy Framework for Better (and Quickly) Navigating a Sales Conversation.

Sales questions are a fascinating subject of study and this is just the beginning.

For further reading, we highly recommend picking up SPIN Selling and giving it a read–or passing it out to your sales team.

WideAngle is One on One meeting software used by companies including General Electric, IBM, AT&T, Google, and many more to make sure One on Ones happen, are productive, and documented.

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People Operations vs. HR: What’s the Difference?

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the supreme importance of people operations–what it is, why you should care, and how it’s different from “HR.” Let’s dive in.

Last month I was on the phone with a leader in the Human Resources field.

She is smart, knew her business extremely well, and spoke very clearly about company goals and mission. I left the conversation impressed.

Her title: “Direct of People Ops:” in the middle of our conversation, I asked her, “What’s the difference between Director of People Ops and Director of HR?”

Her response: “Brand. No one has ever had a ‘People Ops Problem.’ Thousand of people across the world have an ‘HR Problem.’”

She continued on around regarding her company’s plans to implement simple, performance reviews outside of the traditional, unscalable Google Docs / spreadsheets. Yet, I was still reveling in her profundity.

“Hold on one sec, if you wouldn’t mind, can you tell me what is the actual difference in job function between Director of HR and Director of People Ops with you role?” I asked.  

She replied: “Very little. We may emphasize the People part more, but from a day to day, the roles job description is very similar.”

These semantics fascinated me.

It’s driving the perception, prioritization, and brand of an entire industry.

I’ve asked many leaders in the Human Resources space what’s the difference between People Ops vs. HR and the only clear answer is there isn’t one.

The role and meaning of each title vary by company, stage of the business, years of experience, priorities, and interpretation.

After getting a decent sample size (50 ish) here are the conclusions drawn:

people operations vs human resources

What Are People Ops’ Main Priorities and Job Function?

Let’s break their roles out and then contrast with those of a typical HR department.

  • Empower managers and their teams.
  • Monitor team and individual development.
  • Facilitate management training and development. 
  • Strategic, data-backed reporting to the CEO.

Related: people ops need to know these 5 questions designed to gain respect from employees.

Here are a few more roles for people operations:

  • Offer ideas, test software, and improve processes.
  • Propose creative incentive structure.
  • Focus on results and retention.

Let’s Contrast That With HR’s Main Priorities and Job Functions:

The HR Department is designed to:

  • Ensure benefits are superior.
  • Maintain the formalized structure of the organization.
  • Enforce the current rules.
  • Provide exceptional onboarding and offboarding.
  • Recruit like a champion.
  • Mandate compliance and proper protocol.
  • Focus on making sure everyone is paid and covered.

Ok. Enough bullet points.

HR departments exist to make their company’s infrastructure run smoothly–People Ops’ departments exist to make their company’s infrastructure run effectively.

Human Resources = the legal, ethical, and structural organization of employees and teams.

People Operations = the results-oriented, strategy focused leadership and management of people.

Why does this matter?

Leaders in the organization must decide when to bring on an HR leader or a People Ops expert in the company.

Understanding the scope of each role provides a clear standard of what to expect when hired. There is no right role to hire first or last, it depends on the need and stage of every business.

The roles of People Ops vs. Human Resources is a fascinating discussion.

The semantics and job title may seem small but affects the expectations, perception, and demands of the role. As time goes on, observe the nature of role names and let us know your thoughts.

About WideAngle: Software for your Performance Reviews powered by 1 on 1 meetings.

2 Types of Feedback You Absolutely Must Know: Structured vs. Unstructured Feedback

When companies mention different types of feedback and how it’s ingrained in their culture, that often leaves an air of ambiguity to the reader.

“Feedback” sounds so good, but it’s so vague.

Is feedback an employee survey? Is it stopping a team member in the hallway wishing them good luck on the big presentation? Is it making sure 1 on 1 meetings do not get moved around? Developing a culture of feedback is all of these and more.

Yet when we talk about feedback there is no context to what type of feedback. Our research has divided feedback into two types: structured and unstructured.

Within these broad types–managers can better plan and execute a system of effective feedback for their employees.

Let’s take a look.

First, Why Is Feedback Important at All? Why Does This Matter?

It’s time for a “duh” moment: Feedback helps us grow–both in life and in our careers.

You probably already understand that–but it’s worth exploring a bit deeper.

The key to managing an effective team often boils down to crisp, clear, and effective communication–with regular feedback being a large part of that.


Performance reviews and constructive criticisms simply are NOT as effective unless they are organized like every other form of workplace communication: clear, effective, and purposeful.

Be thoughtful in your approach to employee feedback.

The Two Basic Types of Feedback

It’s simple: Structured vs. unstructured.

In an effort to better understand how you can guide your team members, it’s important to understand how these types of feedback work!

types of employee feedback banner

Unstructured Feedback

This is when communication happens between a manager and their employee that is ad-hoc and unplanned regarding timing or content. This feedback is more artful and off the cuff.

Examples include:

Many of the world’s most popular training methodologies revolve around unstructured feedback.

The above methods are fantastic for staying in a constant state of growth throughout the work year–and also seizing every opportunity to help your team grow!

Manager Pro Tip: Try to keep unstructured communications as positive as possible.

With the more structured approaches below–negative or critical feedback is almost expected–employees are likely prepared for negative feedback at 1-on-1’s or performance reviews.

However–if you start dishing out negative commands and complaints near the coffee maker at 8:39am, that is far less likely to be taken seriously, and might just make you seem cruel.

Structured Feedback

This includes the systematic communication mandated across the organization–or just across your team.

Examples include:

  • Performance Reviews
  • Keeping score via evaluations.
  • Team meetings.
  • Company town hall meetings.
  • One on One Meetings.
  • Employee surveys. 

Many of the organization’s HR / People Ops performance management processes revolve around structured feedback. When perfecting their performance management process, look at the numerous types of structured feedback above.

Why are these important?

Expectations and agendas.

Setting a routine of constant feedback and a review system sets a tone of effective and continuous improvement. It’s the single best way a company can non-verbally communicate a culture of betterment.

When discussing a culture of feedback with your leadership, it’s important to know what type of feedback your company wants to prioritize.

Great companies will mix in both forms of feedback. Traditionally, highly skilled and talented managers are good at unstructured feedback. Having a team that rolls out structured feedback with the right intent and message is important for adoption and success.


It’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that we’re a feedback company ourselves.

It’s our entire mission actually.

We build software that helps teams communicate and provide feedback more effectively–by powering up your 1:1 meetings.

If you’d like to take a test run of our product–you can do so here!


Related Post: What Should You Ask a New Employee in Their First One on One Meeting?

3 Essential Hiring Tips for New Managers

Answer this question:

What are some common traits of rockstar managers?

You know the ones.

They rise quickly. They get things done–but remain liked and respected. They build awesome teams, and therefore awesome careers for themselves.

  • leadership skills?
  • a talent for organizing?
  • the ability to hold awesome one-on-one meetings?

These are traits of great managers, but even these pale in comparison to one other trait:

Great managers are those who are able to BUILD up amazing teams from scratch, and that means they are amazing at hiring.

It might sound too good to be true—because it probably is—but follow these guidelines below for every single hire you make, and you’ll be building up a talent and reputation for building great teams.

And building great teams = great career for you.

1 – Take Your Time and Get It Right. 110% Right.

Legendary management author Jim Collins had it right:

Your team is like a bus. You need to be putting the RIGHT people in the RIGHT spots and the RIGHT time.

If that sounds hard—it’s because it is.

There’s more info on the bus metaphor by the way.

And while finding the perfect “who” could be tedious, frustrating, etc—leading you to WANT to make hiring decisions a little too quick, remember this:

All that frustration is nothing compared to hiring the wrong person. That means not only 10x more headache for you, but also your team.

Don’t be afraid to take your time if it means finding the right person.

Speaking of which…

2 – Know Exactly Who You’re Looking For.

We should’ve put this first, probably.

The job title & description is simply not enough.

You (and any other interviewers) need a crystal-clear vision of the new hire.

  • What is their ideal background?
  • What is their ideal education?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What weaknesses don’t really matter?
  • Which do?
  • Hyper-organized, hyper-creative, or a balance of both?

Explicitly define your perfect hire, and it’ll be 10x easier to spot them when they walk through the door.

3 – Vet Candidates Thoroughly and Across Your Entire Team

Under no circumstances should you make a hiring decision based on the inputs of just 1 person.

“Duh,” you say, but doesn’t it often work out like that, even if there are 2 or 3 different interviewers throughout the process?

Not only should you screen new hires with several interviewers (honestly, the more the merrier in our opinion), but you should sincerely seek and consider their input.

New hires don’t just need to be a great fit for you—they need to be a great fit for the company and their coworkers.

It matters.

Hire the right person for the bus, not just the driver.

4 – Move Quickly

Yes, we just gave the advice to take your time trying to find the right fit.

However, this time-taking can only happen after you have:

  1. posted the job
  2. Reviewed her resume
  3. Emailed her
  4. Phoned her
  5. Brought her in for the interview
  6. etc.

The “deciding” part of the hiring process should be deliberate, methodical, and with nothing left to chance. Everything else should be proceed as fast as humanly possible.

No, forget humanly. As fast as the software allows.

Automate follow-up emails.

Review resumes, schedule interviews, send emails—batched processed.

For every other step in the interview process outside of deciding, operate quickly.

This will also help the feeling of the ENTIRE process taking forever since the decision phase will take longer.

Be agile.

5 – Ditch the HR-Approved Interview Scripts

Or, at the very least, do much more than the HR-approved interview questions.


There are 3 stages to an interview, and 2 are far more important than the other.

  1. First impressions (important)
  2. The Interview
  3. Everything that happens after the interview before they leave the building.

That #2? That’s the HR-approved questions, and they can definitely reveal how prepared the interviewee is—but that’s enough.

Not only should you pay close attention to the “casual talk” after the official interview questions—but you should actively plan that time. You will be reviewing a candidate’s fit!

Moreso than the scripted interview questions.

6 – Take Notes Immediately After the Interview (Additional Points for Using Audio!)

You’re a manager. You’re stretched thin enough already.

Trying to remember anything in 2019 and beyond is futile and simply not necessary.

Try using your phone’s built-in voice recorder to quickly take notes and organize your thoughts about the candidate. This is quicker than writing and typing and is easy to refer back to later.

Ads make quote above.

7 – Found the Right Person? Hire Immediately and Generously.

If the person is worth hiring, they’re probably worth hiring for other companies as well.

If you truly know you’ve found the right person, move quickly, and get all of your negotiating chips laid out beforehand!

When we say “generously,” we don’t mean give away the farm and throw all negotiating tactics out of the window.

But you should organize your maximum salary cap, a list of additional perks and benefits, etc before you sit down at the table.

At that point, be smart and do whatever it takes to get that perfect fit.

That’s it.


World-class managers know the truth about hiring—it’s beyond important–it’s an essential step to building a great team.

So, treat it as such!

Hire A players every time, and both you and your team will reap the benefits.

The 10 Commandments of Effective Managing

Haven’t you read enough blog posts like this?

Haven’t you attended enough conferences, read books, listened to leadership podcasts, etc?

Of course you have…

Chances are, you are neck-deep in learning & development–and probably have been all throughout your adult career.

Why then, do we continue to get stuck? To grow and advance slower than we’d like?

Is it because we don’t know what to do or how to act?


Oftentimes, ineffective managers and leaders are those who fail to internalize all they have learned, or fail to put those rules into action.

Below we’d like to lay out the “rules to live by.”

You’ve probably seen every one of these before–but thought it would be nice to break them down in a memorable format that will help them stick in your brain, hopefully allowing you to internalize and take action.

Live your management life by these, day in and day out, and watch effectiveness and growth improve and accelerate.

Thou Shall Think of Your Team NOT As “Your Team,” But “Our Team.”

When managing people, one must consider their feelings, emotions, and situations–in addition to responsibilities, skills, etc.

This should start with recognizing that every team member is important, and a part of the team.

  • Our team
  • Our objectives
  • Our wins
  • Our failures
  • Our goals

Not “mine.”

This builds buy-in from team members, and a cohesiveness and camaraderie.

However, Thou Shall Assume Responsibility

This might seem to contradict the first commandment above, but great managers can easily distinguish when to follow which commandment.

When your team is crushing goals and functioning on all twelve cylinders, highlight the contributions and work of your team–not yourself.

After all, leaders do not push themselves to CEO–they are pulled up by their cohorts.

On the contrast, when your team isn’t functioning correctly or is not progressing as intended–assume responsibility.

Aside from being the truth (probably), it also shows great form and humility to upper management. It tells them you know there’s a problem, and you’re dedicated to fixing it.

Thou Shall Coach

It should come as no surprise to you that we at WideAngle are fired up about one-on-one meetings.

They are one of the best ways to stay connected to your employees, establishing proper accountabilities and responsibilities–but they’re also perfect for job coaching.

Managers should be required to coach their employees–and not just on the skills required for their role…

But also…

  • Coach them on skills
  • Coach them on the company
  • Coach them on career growth
  • Coach them on managing

It is your job to help them grow in their roles, as a part of the team, and in their own careers.

Thou Shall Keep an Open Mind at All Costs.

Just because your company chose you to get promoted, doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know.

Believe it or not, your team members might have valuable insights that you’d never be able to see, due to your position as manager (out of day-to-day activities perhaps? Or away from customer-facing roles?)

Great managers listen to and take advice from their employees.

Really, really great managers go out of their way to elicit that valuable information from their employees.

Closed-minded leaders don’t stay leaders for long.

Actively empower your team to share knowledge and opinions.

Thou Shall Do Unto Employees What You Would Want Upper Management to Do to You

Ah. The Golden Rule of management.

Translated, this rule essentially is “manage like a human.”

Practice empathy and objectivity. It can be all too easy to step into “boss mode” and start to treat employees in a manner which you yourself wouldn’t approve of.

It’s a shame that this rule is often difficult to remember on any given day, especially once you navigate away from this post.

We hope you’ll find little systems and processes to make sure you’re treating your team with respect and dignity.

Thou Shall Think Before You Communicate

We get it.

You have your own deadlines. Your own crowded email inbox. Your own life outside of work.

It can be easy to fire off short and not-so-sweet emails–and assume people know what you’re talking about, or what you want, or what’s expected of them.

Don’t do that.

Communicating clearly is one of the biggest traits of a super-effective manager.

Whether it’s via email or shouting to the team member in the next room, take the time to make sure your message is clear, and clearly received.

Thou Shall Get to Know Each Team Member Individually

We all work in different ways!

Each of your employees will function differently, so in order to build a cohesive machine, you will have to tweak each employee’s needs individually…

…and this requires that you know how they operate.

Again, might we suggest one-on-one meetings?

This is the optimal atmosphere for discovering how to best serve each employee, how they work, how they learn, and when and where you should step in to guide/help them.

Thou Shall “Guide the Passive, Empower the Proactive”

We found this in an Appirio post from 2015, and loved it.

“Every team is a heterogeneous mix of people possessing not only different skill sets but also different levels of the same skills.(…)”

“Meanwhile, it can be all too easy to give up on someone who is a low performer. And that’s exactly where a good manager needs to work on grooming that particular individual to get results and be able to take on challenging work. This is where it’s important that “mentoring,” not “managing” comes into play(…)”

“Similarly, managers should not hesitate to empower top performs on the team. But in order to do that, there has to be mutual trust and respect between the top performer and the manager. Those 2 things in particular lead to a meaningful and healthy partnership that ultimately drive processes across the team.”

Absolutely right.

This goes right along-side the previous commandment about know every team member.

Thou Shall Abandon Personal Pride

Confidence, yes. Pride, not so much.

If anything, take pride in your team. How they’re performing.

Do not allow your role as a manager to translate into an ego. Remember, without your team, you could not function.

Ego is the Enemy is a fantastic book on this subject.

Thou Shall Motivate and Inspire

This is our last rule to manage by:

Your team is like an automobile, and motivation is the gas. The tank needs to be refueled BEFORE it is empty.

Should you prepare motivational keynotes for your weekly meetings? Of course not.

There is a much simpler and practical way to keep the motivation fuel tank up: Encouragement.

For every piece of criticism you dish out–which will need to happen–there should be three moments of encouragement.

Encourage your team with your confidence in their abilities, and reward A+ behavior.

Build team members up at every opportunity, and you’ll hopefully never develop a motivation problem.


Have you heard some of these tips before?


Do you still live them out every single day in your career? No. None of us do. We’re not perfect.

But if you internalize just one of these rules and take a small action to include it in your role as a manager, you will see your effectiveness increase.

And along with effectiveness comes a better functioning team and faster career trajectory.

Live by management commandments.

Related reading: 7 Steps to Upgrade Your Employee Performance Evaluations (in 2018)

The “Funnel Formula” for Nurturing Rockstar Employees

Marketing and sales often speak of their “funnels.”

They take cold leads–and enter them into a system of interactions that are designed to make them warm leads.

Once warm, steps are taken to make them warmer still…

…and then finally into buyers.

Typical sales funnel. Image courtesy of

It’s a process. System. The funnel is laid out on paper beforehand.

Most marketing and sales departments don’t leave anything to chance, either.

They have sales call scripts & automated follow-ups.

We can do the same in people management.

We should not leave our employees development up to “chance.” We should have systems and processes in place to make SURE our employees get everything they need.

We cannot wait to address performance problems or identify employees who lack motivation and interest–until those have already been diagnosed. It might be too late by that point.

You can set up systems and schedules (i.e. a plan) for keeping employees motivated, happy, and on top of their game–without stressing over it 5 days a week.

Introducing the “Funnel Formula” for building up amazing teams

The formula is quite simple:

  1. Identify what your employees need and when
  2. Design an automated system and calendar
  3. Execute

If #3 sounds the most difficult to you–you’d be correct.

However, if step #2 is done properly, executing an employee development system should be 10x easier.

Step 1 – Identify what your employees need and when.

If you were to examine a truly exceptional employee–and trace their employment back to day 1, what would you see?

When were there breakthroughs? Month 3 when training ends? Month 12 once they’ve fallen “into the hang of things?” Later?

What was it along these breakthroughs? An annual training event? After their first quarterly one-on-one with you?

Step #1 in this formula is all about discovering what your employees need from you in order to grow–and when they need it to happen.

The best way to do this is to examine past performance, starting with your “rockstars.”

What has worked for communication?

  • daily check-ins?
  • weekly meetings?
  • monthly meetings?

What has improved morale?

  • taking individual employees out to lunch once a month to talk?
  • team bowling trips every quarter?

What has fostered the most growth?

  • letting other employees shadow other departments?
  • quarterly conference trips? (our guess is probably not)
  • frequent reviews?

Identify the “triggers” that have fostered employee development, growth, and combatted burnout or work fatigue. Map out precisely when in each employees timeline you can take action to “trigger” such events.

Map it out.

Step 2 – Leave nothing to chance. Set up an automated system.

Here’s a great illustration, taken directly from an email marketing sequence

This is a sequence of emails that are sent to a new customer over the course of the first 6 months!

every “touch point” of communication is automated

The automated communications begin when a purchased is triggered, spans the course of several months, and there’s even a built-in trigger to end the sequence if the customer opts-out or is issued a refund.

Replicate this and adapt it to developing your team.

Take the action items you discovered in step #1, and add them to some sort of automated system.

There are tons of tools for this, and we’ll highlight a few of them below.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you polled you current team members and found the following to contribute most to their continued improvement:

  • short (10 mins or less) weekly meetings
  • 1 Friday a month dedicated to team-building, morale, and just “chill time.”
  • individual one-on-one’s every month for 30 minutes.
  • an unofficial long employee performance review every quarter, as opposed to annually

The first three are easy. They are recurring–and not based on an employee’s start date, etc.

But what about #4?

You should not leave this meeting to chance, and it should be scheduled upon an employee’s hire date.

If there are more than one “things that need to be scheduled” upon gaining a new team member, it’s probably best to have a checklist of sorts for the scheduled emails and automation you need to set up.

Our recommendation?

  1. Physical binder & paper with an unofficial new hire checklist (specifically for these funnel steps
  2. A tool like IFTTT or an Email Service Provider like Mailchimp.

IFTTT = let’s you set rules for automation. (It’s totally free)


IFTTT can set automated outlook meetings, emails to your personal gmail, and way more

You could spend an hour right now setting up a few of your rockstar employee funnel “action,” and have them emailed to both you and your employee’s email address.

Then, when a new hire starts, you break out your checklist and simply duplicate the IFTTT automations, etc.

Depending on your level of technical expertise, you could use your company’s outlook to schedule meetings in advance, or use fancier tools like a dedicated team ESP (Mailchimp), IFTTT, Zapier, etc. Setting those up is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but it’ll be worth the time investment to set these systems in motion.

Step 3 – Execute

This is really just a continuation of step #2,

The goal of step #2 was to make training and nurturing your employees as pain-free as possible for all parties involved.

Schedule your funnel “steps” or “actions” in advance, and executing them should be relatively smooth, except for one quality.

It can be tempting to back out of long-standing commitments due to short-term “perceived needs.”

As in…

I know this employee started exactly 6 months ago, and needs this specific training right now in order to grow–but we had some “fires” this week.”

We can’t tell you how to run your company or department, but we encourage you to stick to your guns.

If you have truly taken action on trying to keep your employees learning and loyal–then almost nothing is worth breaking the system.

Sticking to your commitments to your employees also positions you as a role model leader.

The bottom line: Do you not leave your employees’ development to chance.

There are certain activities you can do with your team members to keep them motivated, happy, and growing.

That much is obvious.

Why then do so many managers and companies not set a dedicated system in place to make these activities happen?

And NOT on a company-wide basis, either. What works for the IT team might not work for the front-line employees.

If you want to be a rockstar manager, you need to put a system in place to create rockstar employees.

Make it happen.

These 3 Lessons Will Save You 15 Years of Your Career

You’ve read the books.

You’ve taken the courses.

You’ve attended conferences.

You’ve listened to the podcasts.

There’s no shortage of information out there about fine-tuning your leadership skills.

In fact, the amount of information can be downright overwhelming. Everyone has good advice. So which do you implement first? What becomes your focus?

If you’re struggling to find a starting point, we’ve got one for you.

These three lessons will save you 15 years of your career.

Yeah. It might be time to take a few notes.

Lesson 1 – Leaving the Long-Term Behind

Lifetime career loyalty is a thing of the past.

Today’s workforce, especially the millennial portion of it, does not expect to stay at one company for their entire career. In an era marked by startups that may or may not take off and dotted with booms and busts in the gig economy, job hopping shouldn’t surprise anyone.

But it does.

Don’t let it.

First, understand who is doing the job hopping. In a recent Gallup survey, half of the millennials surveyed said they expect to be at their job one year from now. One year. In that same survey, six out of 10 millennials indicated that they are open to other employment opportunities.

But millennials aren’t the only ones.

In that same Gallup poll, 60% of non-millennials said they anticipate being in their same job a year from now. Put it another way, regardless of the generation, between 40-50% of the workforce can’t see themselves in their current role in the long run.

Now, consider what that means for you. Don’t sweat the generational stereotypes. Focus on your specific team instead. As an effective manager, you know how to have conversations with people. Make your workers feel respected. Push them. Challenge them. Engage them. Build morale.

Remember that career satisfaction isn’t always about money. More often, people want to feel that they add value and that their work has meaning. Does your team feel that way? Then maybe you’re looking at the portion of the workforce that doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

Or maybe members of your team will leave anyway. It is important to brace yourself for this new reality. Have honest dialogues with your team. Stay future focused. And remember not to take it personally.

Lesson 2 – People Over Profit

Sales. Expenses. Overhead. Projected growth. In the business world, the focus is often on numbers. Article headlines, book titles, and conference keynotes certainly are.

But numbers aren’t everything. In fact, if you’re someone who is looking to be an effective leader, you have to know that.

There has been a lot of discussions lately about purpose-driven businesses. Rather than being profit-driven, companies who put people, passion, and purpose first reap clear benefits in terms of employee satisfaction, customer loyalty, and overall success.

When you are making decisions, focus on people, not profit. Employees, clients, and customers should be your focus. Establish and cultivate genuine relationships. Whether you are looking to grow your company initially or continue to scale nationally and internationally, those relationships are what will do the work for you.

Growth and profit are byproducts of great employees. When it comes to setting yourself apart from the rest, the people on your team are where you will find your greatest value. People create and innovate. People define and redefine products and processes. Even if your team isn’t destined to work together forever, purpose-driven companies often have greater job loyalty among their employees.

When it comes to keeping your customers, focusing on people and purpose, not profit, is what has real staying power. Recently, 54% of consumers reported that they don’t trust brands. The same market researchers found that 91% said that they would switch brands if another brand offered similar quality and price while supporting a good cause.

When it comes to standing out and developing real staying power, it’s people, not profit, that will help your team and your company do that.

Bottomline: Business is about people. Lead accordingly.


Lesson 3 – There is No Hack for Hard Work

Chances are, you’ve read at least one headline with a hack in it today. Hacks, shortcuts, quick fixes. Call them whatever you want. When it comes to long-term career success, there isn’t one.

Hard work still rules all. The most valuable leaders deliver shock and awe, not through some slight of hand, not through their ability to schmooze, but because they constantly have their nose to the grindstone as they outwork the competition.

The modern era is full of overnight success stories. Whether it’s water cooler talk or tabloid headlines, conversations about this kind of success are sprinkled in everywhere.

The problem?

It isn’t real. Not really.

Just like success hacks, these kinds of stories only highlight the end. They fast forward through the years of hustle. They spin the setbacks and omit the failures.

Not convinced? Take it from Steve Jobs. “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”

And that time wasn’t filled with shortcuts and gimmicks or wishing and hoping. It was a path lined with hard work.

Over to You: Where Are You Going in Your Career? What Are Your Dreams & Aspirations?

Experience is the best teacher, but these three lessons are second best, especially if you are looking to save yourself some time and headache along the way.

The industrial age is gone, and some common career assumptions are going along with it.

It’s time to recognize the changing nature of work and adapt accordingly.

Related Reading: Improve Your Management Skills By First Improving Yourself

Top 10 Leadership Podcasts to Download Right Now

The strongest leaders are products of the best mentors. But elite mentors are hard to come by, right?


In the era of podcasts, listeners all around the globe have unprecedented access to thought leaders, entrepreneurs, Fortune-500 executives, and more. Each episode offers top insight distilled down into lessons to help you grow as a leader. Listening to any of these top leadership podcasts is like taking a top mentor along on your morning commute or during your daily workout.

Here Are the Top Business, Management, and Leadership Podcasts That’ll Help You Grow Your Career:

Leadership and Loyalty with Dov Baron

Leadership expert Dov Baron has seven seasons of wisdom to share with listeners who are looking to lead. The title is no accident, either. In Baron’s approach, the best business models inspire loyalty in their leaders and their followers. Through a holistic model that strengthens the mind, passion, and dedication of his listeners, Baron will give you strategies to implement and will prove that the best leaders are the ones who live impactful and purpose-driven lives.

Does of Leadership with Richard Rierson

Rierson is out to cultivate a crop of leaders with influence. This isn’t about charisma. This isn’t about laying it on thick. This podcast is about finding ways to beat stagnation, empower your team, and cultivate a culture of impact. Each episode features a different innovator and leader to showcase the ways in which authenticity, vulnerability, and courage can propel leaders and their teams upward.

Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak

With over five years of recording, Stachowiak has crafted episodes that touch on every facet of leadership. From making pivots in a career and managing former peers to obtaining meaningful stakeholder feedback and leading difficult employees, the most difficult and important leadership milestones are addressed on the show. He also has a free audio course, 10 Ways to Empower the People You Lead, with bonus content available to members for no cost.

Accelerate! with Andy Paul

Are you looking to lead your team to the top? Andy Paul started out as a salesman and now devotes his time to getting leaders and teams unstuck. With the help of his guests, he shares various strategies that managers and leaders can use to take their teams to the top of their organizations.

The Tim Ferriss Show with Tim Ferriss

Few entrepreneurship books are better known than The 4-Hour Work Week. Author Tim Ferriss has been pegged as “a cross between a Buddhist monk and Jack Welch” and has been hailed as “the Superman of Silicon Valley.” He now spends time each week on his podcast interviewing and deconstructing insight from world-class performers. He also does solo episodes on occasion where he shares different ways that he is maximizing productivity and optimizing his own life by acting as a human guinea pig for his listeners. Guests include Jamie Foxx, Seth Godin, Tara Brach, Jocko Willink, and others.

TED Radio Hour with Guy Raz

If you are looking for a podcast strictly dedicated to leadership, this is not for you. If you are looking for a show that highlights the most compelling storytelling, the most innovative creations, and the most fascinating ideas of our time, then TED Radio Hour is it. Guy Raz puts together each episode based on a common theme and then features excerpts of the best TEDTalks “from the world’s most riveting minds.”

The LEADx Show with Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse’s goal is clear: he wants to help you live your best life by reaching your fullest potential. To do that, he sits down with top business executives and thought leaders to mine their experiences for insights that he can pass along to listeners. If you are ready to fill your mornings with world-class mentoring sessions, The LEADx Show is the choice for you.

The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

The goal of this podcast is to help listeners dream bigger, live better, and make an impact. With over 2 million downloads each month, Howes presents interviews and does solo shows, both with the intent of delivering actionable advice to prompt personal growth. On Fridays, he does a shorter 5-Minute Friday format that is easy to fit into your routine. He also creates mashups of the most popular episodes, like Leadership Lessons from the Masters. The range of guests is remarkable, with people from Alanis Morissette to Gary Vaynerchuk sliding up to the microphone.

The Nice Guys on Business with Doug Sandler

On this show, nice guys finish…first. Doug Sandler will tackle any topic with any of his guests, but he is perhaps best known for his ability to cultivate positivity and motivation. His focus is to help listeners grow their businesses successfully and intelligently with an emphasis on personal values. In a world where anything goes, Sandler and his guests demonstrate just how effect authenticity, vision, and personal relationships can be.

Office Hours with Daniel Pink

If you’re wondering why that name sounds so familiar, it’s because Daniel Pink has one of the most-watched TED Talks in history, landing over 20 million views. He calls Office Hours “Car Talk…for the human engine” and interviews all sorts of thought leaders to collect insight on everything from behavioral economics and happiness to scaling up and leadership. Past guests include Gretchen Rubin, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, and Biz Stone.

Ok, managers–we hope you found something new out of this list of podcasts.

It’s such an amazing format for learning, and luckily there are more than a few amazing biz podcasts to choose from.

Listen and grow your team.

Related: 4 TED Talks You Should Watch Right Now If You’re a Manager