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Applying effective practices

During the last couple of weeks, my wife and I attended our fair share of holiday parties -- some organized by family, others were business related, yet in both cases we felt as though we were amongst friends. Once again, these holiday parties proved to be excellent opportunities for networking, as I mentioned in a previous column, and I have already scheduled several appointments with new prospects and old business acquaintances for after the new year.

Of all the Christmas parties, though, perhaps my favorite was the intimate gathering we had at my father’s house for our entire team at Lemartec. This year’s gathering was extra special because we were able to come together and give thanks for, among other things, my father’s recovery from his bout with cancer earlier this year.

You can replace the chief executive officer of a well-organized and properly structured company, as difficult as it may seem at times, but you cannot replace a father. My father is both CEO and father to us all. It was a joyous celebration.

I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous sense of pride and admiration for the fine group of men and women who have become part of the Lemartec family. I reflected on the relationships we share, both personal yet structured, as pieces of a puzzle coming together to form a unit where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Then I thought about what the legendary Walt Disney once said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality,” and I realized the important responsibility that every business owner has to manage his or her team effectively.

It is precisely because of this dynamic interaction and interdependence between you, as a small business owner, and your team that effective management is at the center of your organization’s success. The way in which you communicate with, inspire, motivate, challenge and serve your team determines in large part the way in which your team responds and performs. It’s no wonder management is the subject of so many business books and publications.

As a small business owner, management fascinates me to no end because it’s all about people in business connecting with one another and as we know, business is all about connecting. Yet all the information out there, all the management books, seminars, and CDs can be boiled down to just four simple rules which I like to call effective management practices.

1. Hire only the most qualified people and don’t be afraid to adhere to a probationary period. One of the most effective managers I know once told me that his secret was to only hire people who were smarter and better suited for the task at hand than he was. Who you hire affects how you manage because of the correlation between talent and productivity. But talent isn’t everything. Team chemistry can be just as important. A probationary period for new hires is essential for ensuring that the people you bring in to your organization fit within your corporate culture.

2. Understand what motivates your team. Effective managers understand that while they may be able to inspire their team, true motivation comes from within each individual team member. The desire to better ourselves while being part of something greater than ourselves is part of human nature. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth by contributing to the organization’s greater good is an excellent way to help your team members tap in to the inherent power of motivation they have inside.

3. Know what to expect. This one is difficult because there’s a fine line between expectation and conformity when it comes to team performance. In business, while conformity is intrinsically evil, expectations must be realistic. Effective managers know how to place people in positions where they can succeed otherwise performance deficiency stops being an employee problem and becomes a management problem.

4. Know what to communicate. Of all the things an effective manager can communicate the most important is vision and vision must be communicated with conviction. Eighteenth Century French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand once said, “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.” When team members embrace a common vision, they bring passion to what they do. Passion fuels their sense of purpose, and when that happens, there’s no telling what your team can accomplish.

There’s an unofficial fifth practice afforded only to managers who are able to consistently deliver on the first four above when you hire only the best, understand what motivates them, place them in positions where they can succeed, and empower them to fulfill the company’s purpose. When you truly believe that it’s the people on your team who make the dream a reality, then there’s only one thing left to do: Effective managers know how to get out of the way. And that’s, perhaps, the hardest one of all.

Manny García-Tuñón, vice president of Lemartec in Miami, can be reached at