The 10 Commandments of Managing People

Recently I read an article on the ‘10 commandments of marketing.’ The author said the first 10 things that pop up in your head: write them down. As a constant learner, I loved this. It made sense, was simple to read, and felt actionable. To get something good, you simply must work at it. Practice makes perfect (or so we wish).

Over the past 3 months, I have learned more about the concept of ‘managing people’ then I thought I ever would. I have researched ‘best practices’ (although they might not be the best…), sifted through blogs and articles, have gone back to past professors and experts in the field. I have seen the challenge that managing people is. There is no one way to succeed. It is a never ending maze. Yet, we can narrow down to a few concepts that are musts to become better.

And here they are:

  • Don’t manage, rather coach.

Did you know the definition of managing is: having executive or supervisory control or authority. As a leader, being able to give people the freedom to grow and be independent is key. You are able to make them feel like they have a purpose when you advise them and help them grow on their terms. Having control of an issue will never be the answer, you will be overwhelmed. Guide your people to be able to succeed in the ways they wish.

  • Be humble.

Yes, you may be ‘the leader’ of the group, but learn to learn from your team. Know that someone might have a better answer to a problem or question then you do.

  • Create values and standards for your team.

Values are more important than what you think. Have to many? Soon you won’t even be able to remember them all. Not consistently living your values? Hate to break it to you, but your team will go off the rails at some point. Pick 3 values that you know you believe in and go live them out. Every choice you and your team make should support those 3 values.

  • Trust.

If you trust your team to work and come up with the ideas on their own, they are more likely to own it as a whole. There might be some guidance sprinkled in there, but you are encouraging growth, once again, on their terms. Having control of all of the issues will never be the answer: you will be overwhelmed. So simply trust your team and learn to let them do, rather than be told to do.

  • Be transparent.

Tell your team what is going on. If you conduct a survey, show the results, and then simply do what you say you will do. Be able to make actionable items out of what your people have told you. If you say you will be doing performance meetings every month, go do it. If you plan on getting to know your employees goals, go do it. Simply stick to your word.

  • Be willing to do the job unwanted.

People tend to follow their leader. If you don’t do the dirty work, chances are your team won’t want to either. Be willing to get out there. Your team will respect you and feel more comfortable coming to you if you show that you are not above their work.

  • Listen.

What if you sat back and didn’t talk, but rather listened to what your people said about the big things, to the little things. Chances are, you will learn a lot about who you and your company are showing up to be. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth. Use them proportionately.

  • Be real.

Life can toss and turn you around sometimes. Employees aren’t robots. They have emotions and experiences outside of the workplace that shape who they are. The whole concept of ‘work-life separation’ doesn't work anymore. We need to understand people are going through things every day that we might not know about. Acknowledge this, and support them through it all.

  • Appreciate your people.

People show appreciation differently. Same goes for receiving appreciation. Learn the ways that your people feel appreciated, and then make an effort to go do those things regularly.

  • Know what culture you are building.

In a business, culture will be built regardless if you want it to or not. So learn to be intentional with culture. Know that all your choices will relate to your culture in some way. And make sure that your employees believe in this culture to, so that you can all live and breath it from day to day.

So what are you going to start to do? Try something for a week, and see what changes happen in your team. Make the choice to be different.


Teams also need to get away and have time to think together and reflect together. Be able to spend just an hour to be curious about each other. -Denise Van Eck, Owner of Thought Design

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