The 17 golden rules of effective management by the father of Nutella, Michele Ferrero

by Alessandro Lombardi

There are 35 Italians in the annual Forbes classification of the richest people in the world.
The first Italian on this list is Giovanni Ferrero, son of Michele Ferrero, whom everyone knows as the father of Nutella—a brilliant entrepreneur who exported confectionery products made in Italy all over the world.

According to Wikipedia, Ferrero group today has over 35,000 employees and 10.3 billion of revenue (fiscal year 2016)—big numbers, a strong brand, and many happy customers all over the world.

Over 40 years ago, Michele Ferrero wrote guidelines for his senior executives to effectively manage their employees.
According to the Italian newspaper Gazzetta d’Alba, Ferrero’s remark to his management team was, “When you are talking to someone else, keep in mind that he is also important.”

There were 17 points focused on engagement, respect, active listening, and clear communication.

  1. When interacting with them, put your employees at ease:
    • Dedicate to them the time that they need.
    • Care about actively listening to what they have to say.
    • Never make them feel “small” compared to you.
    • The most comfortable chair in your office should be for them.
  2. Make clear decisions and engage your employees in the process. They will believe in the choices they have made.
  3. Involve employees in any changes, and discuss the changes with stakeholders before they are implemented.
  4. Communicate positive feedback to the workers. When it comes to negative feedback, communicate them only when necessary. It should not be a criticism, but should indicate what can be done even better to avoid future mistakes.
  5. Act on time. Too soon is better than too late.
  6. Look at the problem, finding out the causes rather than the behavior.
  7. Consider the problems in a holistic way. Don’t get lost in the details; leave your employees a certain margin of tolerance.
  8. Always be human.
  9. Don’t ask for impossible things.
  10. Admit your mistakes calmly. It will help you not to repeat them.
  11. Take care of what your employees think about you.
  12. Don’t pretend to be everything to your employees, in which case you’ll end up being nothing.
  13. Beware of those who flatter you; in the long run, they are more counterproductive than those who contradict you.
  14. Give always to people what they deserve, and remember that it is often not a question of how much, but of how and when.
  15. Never make decisions under the influence of anger, concern, or disappointment, but leave them for when your judgment may be more serene.
  16. Remember that a good boss can make a giant feel like a normal man, but a bad boss can turn a giant into a dwarf.
  17. If you do not believe in these principles, renounce being leaders.

I believe that Ferrero’s input is really actionable for every manager of people. Moreover, it seems that one of the reasons behind Ferrero’s great success was the way he drove his team. He was a people-first leader, not just an entrepreneur.

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