How to Manage to Make a Difference

make a difference

Make a Difference

If you’re a new manager, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory faster than you can imagine. How do you handle the gossiping employee? Or the top performer about to jump ship? How do you develop a high-performance team?

Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage have literally packed numerous tips, strategies, tools and techniques for managers into the pages of their new book, Managing to Make a Difference: How to Engage, Retain, & Develop Talent for Maximum Performance. I recently spoke with Larry about their new work.


“We can change the world and make it a better place.” -Nelson Mandela


Why Employee Orientation is All Wrong

Your book starts out saying that we have employee orientation all wrong. We too often start with scare tactics and explaining what will result in termination. What does this do to new employees?

Frankly, the gratuitous negativity turns people off. The new employer is building the case for termination on day one! Also, it’s just plain boring. Negative and boring are not strategies to increase engagement and positivity about starting a new job.

You might say that these kinds of statements are necessary in our litigious society. We happen to disagree with that point of view. But even if we were to agree that they are necessary, they diminish your efforts to engage and retain people.

Imagine you’re dating someone, and you start a discussion about being exclusive and moving in together. The other person replies, “I’d love to do that! But first I want to make sure you understand the reasons I might decide to end this relationship.” How would that make you feel?


Go Ahead: Get Close to Your Team

I loved your advice on getting close to people. I’ve long advocated this. What are the benefits of getting close to people at work?

When you cultivate close, positive relationships with your employees (and among your employees), every employee spends his day with people he really likes and cares about. This increases job satisfaction, engagement and morale. Teamwork improves because employees are more likely to go the extra mile for people they care about. When problems occur, employees with good relationships will resolve them more easily. A leader who has close relationships with her employees can exert more influence on them without using her power. For instance, when she asks for extra effort, they’re more likely to give it.


Leadership Tip: the closer you are to someone, the easier it is to influence that person.


Talk about the importance of setting expectations.

The Outs and Ins of Employee Loyalty

What’s In and What’s Out?

The era of employees signing up to work at a single company for their entire adult lives has long been over.  The importance of differentiating and branding yourself has never been more important.  The best employees have options. They are always on a recruiter’s radar. They often have a resume ready. If your best hope of retaining them is a counteroffer, then you have already lost the war. Consider these ideas if you want to increase your employee retention.


Helping employees only with their jobs and specific skills to improve productivity.


Helping employees with their lives, which recognizes them as individuals who have needs outside of work.


Keeping employees at arm’s length and in a strict business relationship. Getting too close clouds your judgment.


Taking the time to know them. Ignore the old advice and become friends. Employees are more likely to be loyal to someone considered a friend.


Telling employees that promotions are rare, that Jane is never going to retire and to “forget it,” that they will be blocked from transferring elsewhere.


Brainstorming various ways to boost earnings, potential and career options to move within a company.


Employees nodding their heads like parrots at everything the boss says.


Constructive disagreement, polite dissent, and compromise.

Employee Loyalty


The rulebook. Everything has a strict procedure and no room for individual deviations or decisions.