Good Management

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david-novak.JPGManagers spend most of their day managing people and resolving problems. A good chunk of the rest of their time is spent at meetings. In the tiny bit remaining they try to get their own work done.

Every manager tries to figure out ways to spend less time pushing and prodding and more time thinking and planning. One way to facilitate this is through building a company or departmental culture where people enjoy coming to work. Less direct supervision saves time.

I learned over the years to make sure I praise a lot, and recognize exceptional efforts and innovative ideas by my staff to the higher-ups. I ensure part of everyone’s job is fun, and regularly ask my employees what they would like to learn. Happy employees work harder, complain less, and take more initiative on finding solutions to problems. They care about the company because they feel cared about.

A new book by Yum! Brands, Inc. CEO David Novak shares his lessons learned on how to be a successful business leader. Much of his worth as a CEO, he notes, is doing “whatever it takes to get people fired up.”

Yum! Brands, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is the world’s largest restaurant company with over 34,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. Four of their brands–KFC, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell–are the global leaders of the chicken, quick-service seafood, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. In 2006 Yum! Brands generated over $9.5 billion in total revenues.

How Yum! Brands got to be so big and so successful–its stock has quintupled since going public–is laid out in “The Education of an Accidental CEO.” Novak’s book focuses on the proper way to treat people and the rewards that can come for doing so intelligently, and when possible, with a smile. “Thank you” is “probably the most important thing a leader can say,” Novak writes.

Leaders shouldn’t have too much spare time, he muses. “Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen to our company is me getting a free day at the office. I’m a creative guy and I can start dreaming up stuff to do when we haven’t finished what we started.”

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