You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
As far as you can see, that old saying — a reminder that being nice works better than being a jerk — holds true for every boss you’ve ever had.
The manager who compliments while criticizing privately. The supervisor who surprises the staff with cold treats on a hot day. The boss who just lets you do your job.
You’ve worked for them all, and you’ve toiled for their opposites. But what kind of boss are you? Read the new book “You Can’t Fire Everyone” (Penguin Portfolio, $25.95) by Hank Gilman and find out.
You don’t get to be deputy managing editor of Fortune magazine without working your way there, and Gilman has done exactly that.
Gilman spent time in small local newsrooms as well as with big-city dailies. He’s seen colleagues come and go. He’s seen his share of good managers and bad ones, all of whom taught him to be a better boss himself. In this book, he explains how you can manage to get the best out of your employees.
The first lesson, says Gilman, is that everyone who works for you has flaws. Conversely, everybody has strengths. It’s your job to find those strengths, then get out of the way and let employees use them.
You, of course, want to like the people you work with. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be your employees, right? But understand that being friends isn’t truly possible.
There will be hard decisions to make someday and they may then hate you, so keep employees close but keep them at arm’s length, too. And even if you have favorites, don’t practice favoritism.
On that note, keep your stars happy but don’t create a class system. Know the cardinal sins of hiring and avoid them.
Think before speaking. Remember that the day a good employee leaves for another job is the day to start recruiting her back.
Give the right people the right jobs and give them feedback. Answer all emails and return phone calls. Learn to do the Donald Trump thing correctly and don’t be afraid to be fired yourself. And when you start arriving at work angry, know that it’s time to go.
So “manager” was never in your DNA? No worries. That’s why “You Can’t Fire Everyone” is around.
With solid advice, a touch of winking snarkiness and a good dose of droll, Gilman offers his readers career advice entwined with behind-the-scenes anecdotes straight from the publishing world.
New managers and managers-to-be will appreciate Gilman’s willingness to use his own experiences to illustrate that mistakes are going to be made and that you’ll live through them. And any manager who’s been around the Big Desk for a while will find Gilman’s in-the-trenches stories entertaining, no matter what your industry.
If you’re getting ready to move up at work, or if you’re already the boss, you’ll find this book to be fun and extremely helpful.
For you and your employees, “You Can’t Fire Everyone” is a honey of a read.
The Bookworm, Terri Schlichenmeyer, is a Wisconsin-based book reviewer.