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How I Learned To Manage People

Posted by on Jul 29, 2010 in Business Management, Career Management | 24 comments

In my earlier years, I never really thought of myself as a manager of people, truth be told I never really understood how important managing people really was until I became an Entrepreneur. And even when I embraced entrepreneurship full time, I made many, many mistakes in this field which taught me huge lessons not just in business but in life over all.

You see, back in the day as an inexperienced Entrepreneur, I thought that people management was simple: “if you want your business to succeed, you must hire people who have the background to run your business for you.” Little did I know that those thoughts were the most devastating thoughts ever to cross my mind. Why? Because no matter how good the people you hire, or how much money you offer them, the truth is: No one can ever run your business better than you.

I learned the hard way that being a business owner did not mean that you hired people to think for you and run the day to day operations for you, it meant that you needed to first know what you really want your business to become, and to do that, you need to be Employee number 1. Because and remember Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it usually will. And if you are not there to steer the business clear of problems, you should never expect Employee number 2, 3 or 4 to do it better than you.

The greatest mistake I made with my first business was to hire a General Manager and her managers (Employee number 2 and 3 and 4) to run the business. I was still working for a big multinational company back then and had the excuse of “I’m too busy to handle my own business”. So I relied on the salaries that I was paying my people to make them grow my business, solve problems and make me rich!

Of course, reality is never that easy. Because people that you pay but do not manage usually result in the people taking their salaries and end up making excuses for why things didn’t go as planned.

To read more about my problems on my first business and how I solved it, Click here to read: “Business and the start of a beautiful relationship parts 1 to 3”.

In hindsight, I realized that my biggest mistake was that I “abdicated” instead of “delegated”. Abdication is what happens when you are not there to guide people and as a result fail to fulfill your responsibility as the founder of the business. Delegation is when you slowly give some responsibility to the people you hire so that they can eventually do the work for you over time. Take note, the operative words here are “slowly” and “over time”.

So in my next business, I tried “delegating”. I was more hands on in the business. But there were still big glaring problems. The biggest problem of all was my attitude. I was either too nice, or too strict, or too tyrannical or all of the above. So as you can imagine, some of my people were complaining behind my back. I wasn’t consistent in my approach and my moods got the best of me, because and this is not an excuse: as an entrepreneur you are faced with an extreme amount of stress on a daily basis.

So how did I learn to manage my people better? Well, three things.

First I had to learn to be better than the normal guy. As an Entrepreneur, you will really face a lot of hard and stressful times but even during those times, I had to learn how to become more “presidential” which meant I needed to stop being dramatic, learn to act from my head and not from my heart. It wasn’t easy, but I (with my wife) realized that the solution to achieving this was to slowly and painstakingly build a system to address the needs of our people. This is where my wife, Jhoanna really excelled, she built our Human Resource System almost single handedly which did not just address concerns of our people but also replaced impulsiveness and drama with solid procedures for addressing our people’s problems.

Second, and simultaneously, I had to weed out the bad apples in the bunch. You see I believe that the business owner has to do his / her part in becoming better at managing people but the people themselves must be willing to be honed to become even better for the sake of the Business. Unfortunately there are those who just do not have the right attitude and the only answer is to remove them from the equation. Once I cleared the ranks, replacing them with “better” people was the next task, and to do this, we created a criteria for hiring people, and that criteria was the most important of all, it was to hire those that believed in what the business wanted to achieve. This unified belief is what bonded our people together to act as one with the owners themselves. Without this bond you can never really build a team with a common purpose.

Third, and finally, I realized that the first two things will not matter at all if I did not show them exactly what it was that the business wanted to achieve. So the last and final ingredient of how I learned how to manage people is to lead by example. I am Employee number 1 and as such I must show the rest of the team how to do it the first time, the second time, the third time, until they can do it on their own. Today, I can honestly say that I have come a long way when it comes to managing people. Today I can honestly say I together with my wife are better managers of people.


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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Jocelyn M. Salvado

    Mr. Mark,
    Thank you for supplying me ideas on how to manage people.
    More power to you .


  2. Mark Hernandez

    Upon reading your article, I immediately cut it out and the following day made some copies and shared it to other managers in the company.

    The article was succint but very helpful.

    • markso

      Hi Mark, many thanks for doing that. I hope you never tire of sharing knowledge to others that you feel will benefit. Keep reading, keep learning, keep sharing.

  3. Mel

    Thanks for sharing your article. Thumbs up for getting through that difficult time! Apart from personal perseverance, support was just in time. Just wondering how was it to set aside bad apples.

    More power!

    • markso

      Hi Mel, thanks for writing in. Letting go of people for the first time is always the hardest. But as I’ve learned, a necessary responsibility. There are some rotten apples that can still be turned, but there are those that are just too far gone. Through the years, I’ve lessened the firing in my organizations because we realized that “preventive” measures are a lot better and a lot more effective. Preventive measures starts from the recruitment process all the way down to how you delegate the work as I outlined in my article. Hope this adds a bit more and expounds a bit on your question. Keep reading, keep learning, keep sharing!

  4. Allan

    Sir Mark,

    Many thanks for sending me this article.I really like it because i am also planning to go into business in the near future. This really helps and the other articles that you share in your blogs. Again a monsterpips of appreciation!

    • markso

      Hi Allan, so nice of you to write in. I’m glad that this and my other articles have given you some more insight. I hope to teach you again this time about starting a business now that I’ve taught you how to trade the Forex market 😉

  5. raul

    Thank you for sharing your experience. If it were written by someone who has no first hand experience in running a business, perhaps i will have second thoughts of believing.

    • markso

      Hi Raul, thanks for writing in. I understand how different my experience might be from most. But I have tried what the world thinks is correct and unfortunately until you really try and experience how it is, you will never realize that reality is usually 180degrees in direct contrast with theory. So believe it my friend as this and all my articles are backed by first hand experience. All the best!

  6. Jay

    Mark, I’m a little bit surprised at your “learnings” especially as you run a training company. Certainly you talk about the responsibility of the owner and founder in improving himself and in making the direction clear. But in terms of making people succeed your formula only seems to be “weed out the bad apples”. This is again an abdication of a basic management principle that as managers, we don’t just make sure to hire the right person, we also make sure that we mentor and coach them so that they can succeed. We don’t just remove them when they don’t perform. That Hire and Fire till you get it right approach is actually counterproductive, emotionally draining, and ultimately destructive to the business. You are right though that the first step is to make sure you get the selection of people right but good management doesn’t end with the hiring choice.

    • markso

      Hi Jay, thanks for writing in. Just to reiterate, the formula again is 3 fold: 1. Be more presidential, 2. Build a system to address needs and concerns of people AND remove those that are too far gone, and 3. To lead by example.

      Let me elaborate on point number 2 as this is what you do not know what we have gone through to “weed out the bad apples” The system that we painstakingly built includes tackling “grievances” of employees and business owners alike. The coaching, mentoring and improvement process is found here. But if that employee violates rules and regulations repeatedly despite several oral and written warnings or commits grave offenses like stealing, vandalism, willful destruction of property, instigating rebellion, (and other same class offenses) with everything properly documented and due process served, the only recourse is to let go of the employee.

      Your point of management is correct that you have to coach and mentor your people. BUT, it must be reserved for those who believe in building the business up, not tearing it down.

      All the best!

      • Rachel

        Hi, Mark… at this specific topic, how are we going to determine the “bad apples” FAIRLY. Is there a standard procedures being followed other than rellying on unjustified verbal information.

        • markso

          Hi Rachel, great question. The answer is you need to have a crystal clear system to “weed out the bad apples” The system that we painstakingly built includes tackling “grievances” of employees and business owners alike. The system should also have clear policies that must be followed. if the employee violates these rules and regulations repeatedly despite several documented verbal and written warnings or commits ‘grave’ offenses like stealing, vandalism, willful destruction of property, instigating rebellion, (and other same class offenses) then thats your basis to let go of the employee. Hope this helps

  7. Ella

    Hi Mark! It’s amazing how I chanced upon your blog. This is a gold mine of information! I’m fresh out of college and currently working but my real passion is business. But I really don’t know how to go about building a business since I’m in the allied medical field. Thank you for your great articles. It feels like I have a mentor:)

    It was also great meeting you in person last Money Summit and Wealth Expo. More power!

    • markso

      Hi Ella! Glad you made it to my blog 😉 sharing what I know and what I’ve been through to help as many people is one of my passions in life. Pursue your passion Ella but be smart about it. When you are ready, I look forward to seeing you in one of my full day seminars or coaching sessions soon. All the best!

  8. Martin Soriano

    I love this Mark. When you are young you make active money income by doing things. For me and those in the middle age common stocks are the best investments because they are passive income. All you need is a dropbox for your dividends. But there is no money to invest in old age when you do not pass thru this entrepreneurial stage.

  9. aurora t. cortez

    Dear Mark So,

    Thank you so much for all the effort in sending me all the informations from Yin and Yang and up to to this topic how i learned to manage people.
    I really appreciate them all and inspire me alot.
    I hope one day i could have the chance to attend personally to your seminar.

    More power!

    Aurora T. Cortez

  10. jv

    wow this is gold of information!

  11. bad credit loan

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  12. Willie Spatafore

    Some genuinely choice posts on this website , saved to favorites .

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