Everything I Know About Management I Learned in Kindergarten

know about management

I read a lot of small business newsletters, including several about management and leadership. I’m always amazed at how many articles cited in these newsletters state the obvious (to me, anyway). I’m talking about tips like “Good Leadership Requires Moral Standards” or “Treat Your Employees Like People, Not Numbers.”

But maybe sometimes, we need to hear what seem to be the basics that everyone should already know. With that in mind, here are things I learned about management from kindergarten.

Say Please and Thank You

I’ve noticed some people in management roles order people to do things — not good. Others tell them to do things — better, but still not ideal. A simple “Please” when giving directions — “Julio, have the report ready by 3:00, please” — can work wonders in making employees more willing to work hard for you. So can a “Thank you” when they complete the job.


Share the information your employees need to do their jobs better. Also share as much information about the company, its outcomes and your plans for it, as makes sense. Last, but not least, share the credit for any job well done with all the team members who helped make it happen. Don’t hog all the credit for yourself. The only thing you shouldn’t share? Blame when something goes wrong. Remember, the buck stops with you.

Take Turns

Lots of managers love to hear themselves talk, which can lead to meetings where others feel too intimidated to speak up and share their ideas or opinions — or simply can’t get a word in. Good leaders listen more than they speak. Say what you need to say, but then let — in fact, actively encourage — your employees to speak up, too.

Play Fair

If there’s one thing that sours employees on a workplace faster than anything else, it’s unfair treatment (or treatment they perceive to be unfair). Make sure you’re not playing favorites among your employees. Apply the same policies to everyone — or, if you make an exception for one person, be ready to make it for the rest of the staff. Keep in mind that even if you feel you’re being scrupulously fair, your employees may not feel the same way. If any action you take has the possibility to be misinterpreted as favoritism, be sure you explain it to your staff — and make sure they’re truly satisfied with your explanation.

Say You’re Sorry When You Hurt Someone

Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re infallible. Nor does it mean that you can just walk away when you’ve done something that hurts an employee. Apologize to the person — directly, immediately and honestly — with the same degree of “publicity” with which you hurt them. In other words, if you embarrassed an employee in front of the entire staff at your Monday meeting, you need to say you’re sorry in front of the whole staff, too.

Clean Up Your Own Messes

Has something gone wrong in your business? It’s your job to make it right. Never ask employees to do what you wouldn’t do yourself, or to take responsibility for an error that you made. By taking responsibility, you earn the respect of your employees.

What lessons from kindergarten do you apply to managing your employees?

Kindergarten Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions
  1. I think it helps to just be kind. You have to learn to strike a balance between kindness and firmness to become a good manager.

  2. Hi Rieva,

    It’s funny how these simple lessons that are encouraged by adults to us as children, we completely disregard when will are adults.

    I can’t stand no pleases or thank you. It’s just plain rude, but I guess some bosses feel the need to make their domination know! Pathetic and insecure. Good bosses never need to treat people badly.


  3. Earlier this week I interviewed, Bob Paff, author of “Communicating to Win in Life, Love, and Business,” on my show, “Leading With Purpose – Empowering Talk Radio.” Anyway, this topic came up in our discussion. I’ve been in the management and leadership space the majority of my working life. What we’re really talking about here are Social Skills and Soft Skills, which can really set people apart from one another as they advance through their careers. For one reason or another, soft skills just aren’t taught well in our public school systems. In my professional opinion, there needs to be a whole course devoted to it in High School and College. It’s basic I know, but I’m also amazed at how many people in organizations today just don’t get it…

  4. Rieva, Great Read! Keeping it simple with the basics is something to be mindful of. Respect is something that is earned. “Think before you speak” and “Choose your words” are good for management to remember, especially when frustrated. After all, inspiring others to be their best is the goal!