Let me tell you about my early days as a manager. I was young, ambitious, and totally clueless. Work-life balance? Forget about it. I was all about grinding 24/7, and I expected my team to be the same way. Big mistake. My drive to succeed became my downfall, and I watched helplessly as my best employees walked out the door, one after another.

But hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? Well, my wake-up call came in the form of an eye-opening conversation with one of my employees. We were at a team happy hour, and after a couple of beers, she let loose. She told me straight up that my management style was garbage. Ouch. But, as much as it stung to hear that, I knew deep down she was right.

That conversation was a turning point for me. I realized that if I wanted to keep my A-Team intact, I needed to change my ways. And that’s when I discovered the triple threat: three simple rules that would transform my management style and help me retain my top talent.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Rules? Ugh, that sounds boring as hell.” Trust me, I get it. But these aren’t your typical corporate BS rules. They’re the real deal. So buckle up, because I’m about to drop some serious knowledge on you.

These three rules are all about respect, empathy, and boundaries. They might sound basic, but trust me, they’re anything but. By following these rules, you’ll create a work environment where your employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to do their best work. And the best part? You’ll become the kind of manager that people genuinely want to work for.

So, are you ready to level up your management game? Great. Let’s dive in.

Rule #1: Recognize and Respect Your Employees’ Desire to Perform

You know that stereotype of the lazy employee, the one who’s always trying to avoid work and do the bare minimum? Yeah, that’s a load of crap. Most people genuinely want to succeed and do well in their jobs. The problem is, as managers, we often forget that and end up treating our employees like they’re trying to slack off at every turn. So, it’s time to challenge that stereotype and start recognizing the kickass potential in your team.

Now, let’s talk about the power of recognition. We all know that feeling when you’ve been busting your ass on a project, and your boss finally acknowledges your hard work. It’s like a shot of adrenaline, right? That’s because recognition is a massive motivator. When people feel appreciated, they’re more likely to keep pushing themselves and striving for success.

I remember a time when I was managing a team at a startup, and we were all working crazy hours to get a product launched. One of my team members, Sarah, was absolutely crushing it. She was putting in extra time, coming up with innovative ideas, and going above and beyond to make sure everything was perfect. But, in my haste to meet our deadline, I forgot to acknowledge her efforts.

When the project was finally over, I could tell Sarah was burnt out. And who could blame her? She’d given it her all, and I hadn’t even bothered to say “thank you.” So, I took her out to lunch and made sure to tell her just how much I appreciated everything she’d done. I could see the relief and gratitude in her eyes, and from that moment on, our working relationship was stronger than ever.

The moral of the story? Don’t be a jerk. Show your team that you recognize and appreciate their hard work. It’s a small gesture that can have a huge impact.

Now, let’s talk about respect. I know, I know. Respect sounds like some cheesy after-school special, but hear me out. Respect is a two-way street, and it’s essential for creating a positive work environment. When you treat your employees with respect, they’re more likely to do the same for you. And that mutual understanding and collaboration are what will set your team up for success.

But let’s be real. We’ve all had those moments when we’ve let our frustrations get the best of us and snapped at an employee. I’ve been there, and I’m not proud of it. But here’s the thing: when you treat your employees with disrespect, even if it’s just a one-off incident, it can have lasting consequences. Your team will start to doubt your leadership, and their motivation will plummet.

So, how can you avoid falling into the disrespect trap? For starters, be aware of your own emotions and reactions. If you feel yourself getting irritated or angry, take a step back and evaluate whether your response is warranted. If it’s not, take a deep breath and find a more respectful way to address the situation.

And if you do screw up and disrespect an employee, own it. Apologize, and make it clear that you’re committed to treating them better in the future. It might be tough to swallow your pride, but it’s crucial for maintaining a strong working relationship with your team.

So, that’s Rule #1: Recognize and respect your employees’ desire to perform.

Rule #2: Don’t Let Your Stress Become Their Problem

Let’s get real for a second. Stress is like a contagious disease. Once one person starts feeling it, it can quickly spread throughout the entire team. I’ve had my fair share of stress meltdowns, and I’ve seen firsthand how my own stress can impact the people around me. It ain’t pretty.

I remember this one time when I was under a ton of pressure to meet a tight deadline, and I just snapped. I yelled at one of my employees in front of the whole team. It was a low point, not just for me, but for everyone involved. I could see the tension and unease in their faces. That’s when I realized that my stress had become their problem, and it was tearing our team apart.

So how do we break the cycle and prevent our stress from impacting our employees? It all starts with empathy and emotional intelligence. As managers, we need to understand that our employees are human beings with feelings, not just cogs in the corporate machine. We need to be able to put ourselves in their shoes and see things from their perspective.

That means balancing authority with approachability. You can still be a strong leader without being a tyrant. Create an open-door policy where your employees feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns, and make sure to address those concerns with kindness and understanding.

Now, let’s talk about the power of an apology. If you do slip up and let your stress impact your employees, it’s essential to own up to it and apologize. Doing so not only helps rebuild trust but also demonstrates vulnerability and humility. After all, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes and do better next time.

In the end, Rule #2 is all about being mindful of the emotional environment you’re creating for your team. When you’re able to manage your own stress and prevent it from spilling over onto your employees, you’ll foster a more positive, collaborative, and productive workplace.

Rule #3: Respect Your Employees’ Work/Life Boundaries

Raise your hand if you’ve ever fallen into the workaholic trap. Yeah, me too. It’s a dangerous game, my friends. When we push ourselves and our employees to work around the clock, we’re setting everyone up for burnout and dissatisfaction. It’s time to bust the myth of the “ideal” employee who dedicates their entire life to the job.

Work/life balance isn’t just some trendy buzzword; it’s a crucial component of a successful and fulfilling career. As managers, we need to not only encourage our employees to take time for themselves but also lead by example.

I remember a period in my life when I was working 80-hour weeks, barely seeing my family, and completely neglecting my own health and well-being. It wasn’t sustainable, and eventually, my performance at work started to suffer. It took a wake-up call from a trusted colleague for me to realize that I needed to change my ways.

Once I started making a conscious effort to prioritize work/life balance, everything changed. I was happier, more creative, and more productive. And guess what? My team benefited from my newfound balance, too. They felt more supported and encouraged to take time for themselves, which led to an overall boost in morale and job satisfaction.

When we respect our employees’ work/life boundaries, we’re not just doing them a favor; we’re benefiting the entire company. People who are well-rested, happy, and fulfilled are more likely to come up with innovative ideas, collaborate effectively, and go the extra mile for their team.

Plus, let’s not forget the importance of mental health in the workplace. When employees are chronically overworked and stressed, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. As managers, it’s our responsibility to create a work environment that supports our employees’ mental well-being.

So, Rule #3 is all about respecting and promoting work/life balance for our employees. It might seem counterintuitive, but by encouraging your team to take time for themselves, you’re setting everyone up for long-term success and happiness.


Alright, folks, it’s time to wrap this up. We’ve covered the triple threat of effective management: respect, empathy, and boundaries. These three rules might seem simple on the surface, but they’re deeply interconnected and have a lasting impact on your employees and your company.

Remember Rule #1: Recognize and respect your employees’ desire to perform. Challenge the myth of the lazy employee and understand that most people genuinely want to succeed. Show them recognition, appreciation, and respect, and you’ll be amazed at the positive impact it has on morale and motivation.

Rule #2 is all about not letting your stress become their problem. Be mindful of the emotional environment you’re creating for your team and develop your empathy and emotional intelligence. When you’re able to manage your own stress, your team will feel more supported, and the workplace will be a happier, more collaborative space.

Finally, Rule #3 reminds us to respect our employees’ work/life boundaries. Encourage work/life balance and lead by example. When your team feels supported in their pursuit of personal fulfillment, they’ll be more creative, innovative, and productive at work.

By remembering these three essential rules, you’ll not only retain your top talent, but you’ll also create a workplace where everyone can thrive. It’s a win-win situation, folks. So let’s put these rules into action and make a lasting positive impact on our teams and our companies.

That’s all, folks. Remember the triple threat, and let’s kick some managerial butt!

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.