Management principles and how to apply them

The world of business is highly dynamic, and prone to often rapid change. Holding management responsibilities in business then brings with it a world of challenges. When faced with a problem, and with people looking to you for a solution, the right course of action might not be immediately apparent.

Difficult situations such as new opportunities for your department, the need for resources, a crisis, or even a workplace conflict – all of these require very specific (and very different) responses from management.

So how can you know what to do?

While each challenge will have its own particularities, having a grasp of some key management principles will always be a useful way of navigating them. So, what are these management principles, and how can they be applied to your day-to-day activities.


If there’s any word that defines a manager’s schedule, it’s “crowded”. Second in line would probably be “diverse”. So when your schedule is usually packed with widely different tasks, the only way to stay on top of the clutter is to practice discipline.

In practice this means creating a schedule, a strong workplace routine and set of rules, and being disciplined enough to stay focused, and follow through with everything you put on paper.

This discipline isn’t only beneficial when it comes to  avoiding becoming overwhelmed with tasks. It also sets an important example for employees and fosters a workplace culture of order and efficiency.

For more on the power of schedules – check this article from Mind Tools.


Integrity is fundamental for a healthy office. What’s even more crucial is that managers display integrity. Managers need their colleagues to take ownership of work and take pride in doing the job right. The alternative, of buck passing and cutting corners, will have a detrimental impact across a business.

Leadership by example is one of the best kind. Managers who want employees to take ownership and treat their job with the utmost respect, need to do demonstrate this behaviour themselves.

For more on the power of taking ownership, we recommend the great Jocko Willink.

Line of Command

Every employee should have a maximum of one manager overseeing their day-to-day work. Anything more can breed a lot of confusion for employees, making it hard for them to do their job.

Moreover, two managers can sometimes result in unclear or contradicting directions for specific tasks. Having one direct manager and a clear line of command makes for constructive professional relationships, breeds loyalty and trust and lets employees focus on doing their job.

That being said, there are many organisations out there today which take a matrix approach to management. This means a flat structure, with multiple lines of command and no definitive leadership. A recipe for chaos? Maybe, but with some of the world’s biggest and most profitable companies – GE being a particular example – taking this approach, it can’t be dismissed out of hand.

So, while clear lines of command are important, it’s clear that a more open ended approach can also work. Stay tuned for further articles exploring the pros and cons or matrix organisation. In the meantime, this article contains some useful insights into chains of command and how to make them effective.

Fair And Incentivizing Remuneration

Each and every employee should be remunerated fairly based on their skills, experience, and the value they bring. Money’s a taboo topic in some parts of the world, and even when it’s not, many employees will avoid discussing the subject.

This lack of discussion doesn’t mean that remuneration shouldn’t be discussed and managers should  reward employees with a fair and incentivizing salary. It’s directly tied to efficiency, productivity, and loyalty to your company.

Additionally, performance-based bonuses and a profit-sharing system give employees a stake in the future of the company, encouraging everyone to bring the best version of themselves to the office every day.

This article has some great tips on remuneration management.

Default To Solutions

Dwelling on mistakes or berating employees is never good management. Good managers default to seeking solutions. Problem solving is key to setting the right example for your employees, and can keep a department, or even a whole organization going.

Finding the solution to complex problems might not always be easy. But simply asking “how do we solve this?” whenever an obstacle is met, everyone perform at their peak.

Here are some great tips on how you can start solving your business problems today.

In conclusion

Management is challenging. The extra responsibility of management brings with it extra responsibilities, but also extra reward for a job well done. Overcoming the complexities of management is rewarding in and of itself, but the enhanced performance of a team is just as valuable.

It won’t always be easy to find the best path forward. But by sticking to a clear set of principles, managers can not only get the job done, but also demonstrate the values that will set the direction of a whole business.