Timeless Tips for New Managers
by Andrew E. Schwartz

DELEGATION TIPS

  • Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. Avoid the tendency to"do-it-yourself".
  • Train employees to handle more responsibility.
  • Delegate the right to be wrong. Use mistakes as a learning process.
  • Make sure you delegate enough authority to enable your subordinate to accomplish the intended result.
  • If you can't control it, don't delegate it.
  • Take time to create a motivating environment where employees will be encouraged to seek and accept more responsibility.

IMPLEMENTING CHANGE -- "INTERACTIVE MANAGEMENT"

A truly skilled manager will solicit ideas for the change from the lower levels. Ideas that would never have worked when imposed from the top can be tremendously successful when spontaneously adopted from below. Getting the workforce to create the method of change, when possible guarantees their cooperation. The affected people should be able to see how the decisions are made. This is also known as "interactive management," which means having a "people-oriented" style of behaving as opposed to a "production-oriented" style. Allowing people to participate promotes understanding between people and greater acceptance of new concepts.

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY: COMMUNICATION

In order for the performance management system to be used as effective communication tools, the supervisor must encourage employees to talk about their performance.

  • Ask questions and listen to responses in order to support the self-discovery process.
  • Ask employees for their solutions and ideas on way to solve problems.
  • Use specific examples of observed behaviors and situations when describing problems or encouraging positive skills and abilities. (Hearsay, judgmental words, or phrase overviews do not help a person understand what they are doing well or what they need to change.

WHY SET GOALS?

The process of goal setting raises questions and issues related to planning, specificity, and negotiation. Can an organization and its employees have compatible goals? Can both sides develop goals together to be more effective? Goal setting is a process for deciding where you want to go as an organization, as an employee and as an individual. Goals for management support the vision and strategic plan that an organization must have in order to stay alive and be successful. Goals for individuals support job success and individual development. When an organization and its (individual) members pull together to link their goals, overall success is the result.

CREATE A MOTIVATIONAL CLIMATE

Create a climate where others find long-term motivation. Long term motivation comes from a positive work environment, and positive reinforcement. Usually long-term motivation is impossible without short-term motivation. Short-term motivation comes from the employees working together, learning from each other, and giving as well as receiving constant feedback to each other. Short-term motivation builds self motivation. Self motivation comes from daily reinforcements. Little reinforcements such as good food in the cafeteria, jolly co-workers, and a little pat on the back contribute to self motivation. If employees enjoy working in the organization, they're more likely to do their best to stay there.

ABOUT COACHING

What's exciting about the possibility coaching presents is that it continually demands from you the commitment to perform beyond the levels you've reached in the past. It demands the willingness to treat each situation as brand new and to treat people with compassion. Above all, being a great coach demands that you be coachable yourself. Your coach could be anyone, and to the extent that you let people coach you, your own coaching will be empowered.

BRAINSTORMING

The basic tool used in generating many possible solutions to a problem is brainstorming. To use the brainstorming process effectively requires following a prescribed set of rules very closely. These rules are:

  1. "Far out" or amusing suggestions are encouraged. Laughter can serve as a good release and help people relax. A seemingly wild or amusing suggestion is listed with the more serious ideas for group consideration, unless the "author" of the idea specifically asks that it be withheld. Sometimes a wild idea can be changed or built upon for creative practical solutions. The idea here is to relax and let the ideas flow.

  2. Encourage group members to generate solutions that are based upon changing ideas already presented, (e.g., reversing, expanding, limiting).

  3. Combine ideas that seem to compliment each other.

A GOOD COACH:

  1. Communicates regularly/frequently.
  2. Is direct and honest.
  3. Accepts people where they are and goes from there!

WHAT MAKES MANAGERS NOT DELEGATE

  1. Doing what comes naturally. A manager's preoccupation with familiar, routine work is a three-fold stifling of productive energies - of his or her employees, the company, and himself or herself. Managers who follow this philosophy fail to grow, fall short of their potential, and reduce their chances for promotion.

  2. The "multi-hat" syndrome. Insufficient definition of the scope of management functions may cause managers to attempt a multitude of diverse tasks rather than concentrate on management functions. This can lead to reversed priorities, inefficiency, duplication of effort, and disregard for the capabilities of employees.

GOALS THAT PROVIDE MOTIVATION

1. Are realistic.
They offer challenge and a reasonable chance for accomplishment. Set a goal too low, and it loses appeal. Set it too high, and it requires too much risk for most people. If you set subgoals, you can evaluate the degree of risk and make changes in the goal as work proceeds.

2. Are relevant to the organization.
Show how a particular goal benefits the organization. Employees should be able to see how their contributions to the achievement of a goal affects the well-being of the organization.

3. Relate to the employee.
Why is this goal important to the employee? He or she knows what the organization will get from accomplishment of the goal. But how will the personal goal of the employee be achieved through accomplishing an organizational goal? The closer the two relate, the greater the employee's commitment and motivation.

A COACH CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
This is a big claim to make. But consider this: when you look at a human endeavor where coaching is the norm, you see extraordinary results. In sports, for example, coaching is recognized as crucial among those who strive for extraordinary performance. No athlete would dream of training for the Olympics without a great coach. Great coaching shows up in sports all the time, but it's as rare in business as pitching a no-hitter is in the major leagues. That's because although a supervisor's job is to coach, it is not always recognized as part of that job.

GOAL COMMITMENT
Since both the supervisor and employee have just finished working together in a mutual problem-solving situation, it now follows that the employee will formally accept the goal assignment. Granted, this is not always an "automatic" step, but it does stand a good chance for success provided that all of the previous steps have been carried out. Crucial to this success is the mutual commitment that must be expressed (with honest intent) between the supervisor and employee. Both must truly believe that the goals are within reach and that every effort and support from both sides will be given. Once again, the trust level between the individuals will play an important factor. Finally, the employee must clearly see the benefits of goal attainment - both from an organizational and individual point of view.

FEEDBACK - A COMMUNICATION SKILL
Feedback is a major source of information which tells you how you are perceived by others and how your behavior is affecting them. This exchange must exist for true communication to take place. An effective communicator solicits feedback from the receiver in order to check for understanding and to remove as many barriers from the process as possible. The communication process is complex, but giving and receiving feedback, especially critical feedback, ranks as the most personal and threatening aspect of all. This is unfortunate, as most research on motivation suggests that feedback is one of the biggest motivators for change.

GOOD BUSINESS COACHING
Clearly, the right kind of coaching can alter a team's or an organization's performance. The implication for business is that if you create a climate of coaching in any organization, you can produce performance that exceeds your expectations - and you won't have to change the people to do so. Coaching can produce star performers in organizations, even when the players are people of ordinary talent and ability.

MAINTAIN PROFESSIONALISM
Leaders must be positive role models. They wear a heavy mantle of responsibility, since they represent the status quo and the standards necessary for their employees and associates to maintain. The higher the leader's standards, the more likely it is that others will rise to a similar level.

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS
Don't try to make decisions unless you know all the facts and risks involved. The safest way to weigh your decisions is to put them through a checklist that covers pertinent information.

  • Do you understand the problem? A solution is not useful if it is developed for the wrong problem.
  • Have you defined the problem?
  • Have you written the problem down? If you don't have a written definition of a problem, you could forget it.
  • Have you identified all possible solutions? Get information, talk to people, check the records, and examine the facts of all the possible solutions.
  • Do you have sufficient information to make the decision?

THE DYNAMICS OF MOTIVATION
While there exist several useful definitions of motivation, for our purposes we will define it as an individual's desire to do something based upon a need. When a person is confronted with a need (either perceived or actual), he or she usually is motivated to perform specific actions for some sort of gratification. Once a particular need has been satisfied, the motivation to continue the actions diminishes and remains at "zero level" until the need arises again. In order to fully appreciate this phenomenon, we must further examine motivational theory and analyze the unique characteristics of individual needs.

BRAINSTORMING
The basic tool used in generating many possible solutions to a problem is brainstorming. To use the brainstorming process effectively requires following a prescribed set of rules very closely. These rules are:

1. No positive or negative comments are allowed during the brainstorming phase.

2. Positive or negative non-verbal evaluations are discouraged as well.

3. A group member may ask for clarification if the member does not understand a given suggestion, but it is important to avoid any questions that are directed to "how" or "why" of the idea. In other words, the person suggesting a solution is not to be asked to defend the idea!

TIPS TO TIME MANAGEMENT
1. Anticipate crunch time so it does not become CRISIS. Leave 30 minutes each day unscheduled. The best laid plans can often get disrupted by someone else's overwhelming A priority, or the car breaking down. Allow flexibility in scheduling, so all will not be lost.

2. Protect your private time. Having and holding onto time for yourself is as important as being work oriented, if not more so. If people fail to take time out for friends, family and play, their health, mental effectiveness and alertness will inevitably suffer.

3. Ask for cooperation. Schedule large tasks that involve others. Never expect to be able to accomplish multifaceted or multiperson tasks on time without the cooperation of all parties involved.

FOSTERING GOOD COMMUNICATION TO COACH YOUR WORK TEAM
The reason jobs are often not done right and employees are fired is because of lack of skill. Right? Wrong! Poor communication and ineffective human relations are the major causes. Remember: Communication is a "meeting of meanings." It's getting through to the other person what you mean in a way that they understand. In fact, you want them to do more than understand, you want them to act on the information in the correct way. Effective communication is talking and listening to create that understanding. The end result is to get things done in a way so that you, the organization, and the employee will all be satisfied.

DELEGATE THE WHOLE
As with delegation in general, there may be occasions in which work must be divided among several individuals for example, highly technical or complex tasks. Should this be the case, the rule is always - delegate the maximum amount of work to the lowest possible level.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FEEDBACK
Giving and receiving critical feedback is difficult, yet essential to master. By being open to feedback, you can learn how to improve both personally and professionally. If someone is not willing to accept feedback, they probably will not proceed much further in their career nor experience much growth or satisfaction out of life.

LEADERSHIP STYLES AND THE CHANGE PROCESS: THE ADVISOR/EDUCATOR
The Style: Someone who is knowledgeable about how change should occur, and can use those skills to show their group or organization how to deal with the specific issues that change brings to the people involved. The Method: The advisor/educator will show and explain ways to define the change/problem and to identify several major issues to focus upon. Then the advisor will help people set goals and objectives to accomplish the change or solve the problem.

MOTIVATION - A FINAL PERSPECTIVE
Employees are their own best source of motivation. If an employee's work is properly structured, he or she will be motivated by the results of their own labors rather than by external rewards and punishments. The manager's prime concern should therefore be to help employees achieve control over and receive feedback from their work. This is not to say, however, that the manager need not be concerned with environmental factors such as wages, personnel policies, and physical environment. Highly motivated employees will be tolerant of unavoidable inadequacies in these areas. But if conditions deteriorate markedly, especially if this appears to be due to the indifference of management, employees' motivation will be canceled out by their growing frustration. Thus, in motivating employees by concentrating attention on job content, the manager should not ignore the employees' basic needs.

LISTEN TO WHAT IS BEING SAID
The paradox of the human listening function is that although it may seem like the easiest and most effortless of all communication functions (writing, speaking, reading, and listening) it is, in reality, the most difficult and requires the most effort - and skill - to perform properly. The reason for this is that in speaking you initiate the ideas and the easily-anticipated flow of words to express them. In listening, however, another person initiates the ideas and the words which strike your ears and enter your brain as totally new information. Studies have shown that in listening most people miss most of this information - and nobody notices.

TOOL BOX APPROACH
The apt expression "tool box approach" has been used to describe an effective leader's skill in choosing the right style at the right time in a given situation. To be a successful leader, a manager must appropriately combine three major abilities - technical, human, and conceptual, or the ability to work with methods, process, procedures and techniques, the ability to work effectively with people and the ability to view the organization as a whole, deal with abstractions, develop ideas, and see cause and effect.

DECISION BY AUTHORITY RULE
Many groups start out with - or quickly set up a power structure that makes it clear that the chairman (or someone else in authority) will make the ultimate decision. The group can generate ideas and hold free discussion, but at any time the chairman can say that, having heard the discussion, he or she has decided upon a given plan. Whether or not this method is effective depends a great deal upon whether the chairman is a sufficiently good listener to have culled the right information on which to make the decision. Furthermore, if the group must also implement the decision, then the authority-rule method produces a bare minimum of involvement by the group (basically, they will do it because they have to, not necessarily because they want to). Hence it undermines the potential quality of the implementation of the decision.

GIVE AND GET "FEEDBACK" INFORMATION
The power of "feedback" in all communication cannot be exaggerated. For the sender, this means making it a habit to encourage the receiver to verbally convey to the sender what the receiver has actually understood. If the sender discovers that the receiver has an understanding different from that one intended, the sender can try again. Without such feedback, the sender would not be aware that there is a misunderstanding and that it must be corrected. The receiver only needs to hold the attention of the sender long enough to "feed back" to him what the receiver has understood and to check for accuracy.

WHAT MAKES MANAGERS NOT DELEGATE?
Perfectionism. Managers who expect perfection often feel employees just can't do the job right. "Perfection" comes through practice, training, and the setting of realistic goals. A re-valuation of past goals and standards, as well as employee potential and current capabilities, is in order. Future goals and standards must be devised to fit individual circumstances and, as much as possible, to ensure their own achievement.

BARRIERS IN COMMUNICATION
There may be barriers that exist between the sender and the receiver such as cultural differences. Environmental conditions may also create barriers, e.g., poor acoustics, others talking, outside noises. More common, however, are differences in frames of reference between sender and receiver. For example, there may not be a common understanding of purpose in a certain communication. You may ask me how I'm feeling today. To you, the phrase "How ya doing" ?is nothing more than a greeting. However, I may think that you really want to know and I may tell you - possibly at some length.

STEPS TO BECOMING A GOOD LEADER
Develop a master plan. What are your goals? What are the organization's goals? How are you going to reach them?
1) Develop a leadership style. To manage people, you need to know how you're going to do it. Be comfortable with the leadership style you choose, and it will lead to future success.
2) Know the risks. Making any decision has its risks. Know the risks involved and whether the organization can afford to take them.
3) Get the authority you need. You need authority to achieve goals. If you don't have enough, get assertive. Tell your superiors you need more authority to make decisions.
4) Be decisive. Don't get caught saying, "Let me get back to you." Consult employees, but you make the decisions.
5) Be firm. If you believe in your decisions, then stick to them. However, be open to suggestions and be flexible.

DEVELOPING A GOAL-SETTING CHECKPOINT
The process of developing meaningful goals and objectives can be a challenging task for any manager. There is a method to make this process easier, however, and it involves following a few general guidelines. The Goal Setting Checklist for the first-line supervisor has been specifically designed with two main objectives in mind: (1) for specific use in translating general (or possibly unclear) goals into a workable structure; and (2) for use as a worksheet (or checklist) to write meaningful goals and objectives for employees. This two-step process should enable the supervisor to translate ideas, "rough thoughts," and wishes into goal statements of a much more practical nature. Over the years, experience has shown that while it is relatively easy to teach the concept and theory of goal setting, many supervisors and managers have found it quite difficult to translate the theory into actual practice. Step-by-step use of the goal setting checklist should provide a constructive aid in this regard.

COMMUNICATION DEFINED
Communication is an exchange of information. It is a process of understanding on both the part of the receiver and the sender.

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
When problem solving, you may recognize that you were working on a symptom instead of the problem. An analysis of the more clearly defined problem may require an alteration to the objectives or the ideal solution. These reviews and changes are costly in terms of time and effort which emphasizes the need for rigid scrutiny during the initial problem definition to avoid wasted time and effort. Once implementation begins, it is even more difficult to learn that the entire action plan and subsequent efforts were based on symptoms in lieu of authentic problems.

GOALS SHOULD BE QUANTIFIABLE
It should be possible to analyze every goal in terms of specific quantifiable objectives. Naturally, for certain tasks, measurement of objectives will be more difficult to attain; the key is to make every effort to reduce each goal to its most quantifiable form. For example, a customer service department might have the following general goals:

1. To increase output on customer acknowledgments.
2. To boost the number of customer telephone inquiries that are handled.
3. To distribute mail in a timely manner.

As described, the above goals are completely immeasurable. It is almost certain that the manager's expectations will not be met. The solution: Quantify these goals in a realistic, feasible fashion that will also insure departmental productivity:

1. To type 10 customer acknowledgment letters per hour.
2. Handle a minimum of 15 telephone customer inquiries per each two hour shift.
3. Open, sort, and distribute all mail for the third floor before 10 a.m. each working day.

THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF COMMUNICATION
This knowledge is the basis for the use of practically any training device or medium you can name. For example, knowledge of the existence of and need for rational content is the elemental basis for outlining that attempt and understanding the various ways of doing so. Similarly, knowledge of the existence of and need for physical content is the basis and reason for the use of any form of audio-visual aid, graphics, illustrations, or other sensory communicative device. Finally, an underlying grasp of the existence of and need for emotional content is the basis for the use of what is commonly known as emotion appeal in communicating an idea.

COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE
Never in the course of the presentation lose sight of the fact that you are speaking to people. Keep what is said on a personal level. Speak directly to individuals. Never slip out of focus and begin talking to the room in general.

GROUP DECISION MAKING - THE ACTION PLAN
The best of plans are only intellectual exercises unless they are transformed into action. This calls for people assigned responsibility for any part of the plan to carry out their assignments according to the agreed upon contract. It is the phase of problem solving that calls for people to do what they have said they would do.

TIME MANAGEMENT - TELEPHONES
* Use telephone answering machines whenever appropriate.
* Record and analyze your telephone calls periodically; find out what's happening on your telephone.
* Establish quiet hours during which you accept only emergency calls.
* Instead of being irritated when the phone rings, remind yourself that it is your job calling. You'll be less frustrated.

DECIDING WHAT TO DELEGATE
Once the benefits of delegation are established and obstacles removed, the next step in the delegation process is to decide what work can and should be delegated. In general, work to be delegated should adhere to the following guidelines:
- It can be handled adequately down the line.
- All necessary information for decision making is also available down the line.
- The work involves operational detail rather than planning or organization.
- The task does not require skills unique to the manager or position.
- An individual other than the manager has, or can have, direct control over the task.

TIPS TO TIME MANAGEMENT
1. Avoid unnecessary attendance at meeting. Do not attend meetings where you are not needed. If you are only needed for a portion of that meeting, stay only for that part and then excuse yourself. 2. Keep Meetings Short & Time Limited. All meetings should start on time and end on time. Schedule them at the end of the day, so that everyone will be more anxious to end them on time. Circulate agendas well in advance, to discourage tangents or addressing other issues. 3. Discourage Drop-in Visitors. Close your office door. If it is open and someone walks in unexpectedly, get up and meet the visitor to prevent him from settling in. If a person knocks, get up and meet him outside your office.

BUILDING TRUST AS A MANAGER
Being reliable. Following through on things. Keeping your promises. 1. Having ethics. Telling your people the truth and not revealing their confidences. Being fair and honest with employees. 2. Showing respect for your employees. Treating them as adults and showing appreciation for their ideas and for the work they do.

Congratulations! You're Now a Manager - MP3 Audio Clip

Congratulations! You are now a manager. How did this happen? By the "magic fairy dust" method: Poof: "You are a manager"? Or did you go to the school of hard knocks (learning through trial and error)? Well, regardless of how, the more important question is: are you trained and prepared for the new intellectual and emotional challenges that await? Too often, employees are placed into the role of manager with little or no management training and development skills. The following are ideas, tips and techniques we at A.E. Schwartz & Associates have uncovered. They are presented here as an excerpt from our most popular program, entitled: The School for Managers.

The School for Managers:
A 6 hour audio cassette series

by Andrew E. Schwartz

See editorial and customer reviews and purchase the series at amazon.com .

 

For more information contact: Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, Founder
http://www.aeschwartz.com, http://www.school4managers.com
telephone: 617.926.9111 Boston; fax: 617.926.0660 Boston
P.O. Box 79228, Waverley, MA, 02479-0228;
e-mail: aes@aeschwartz.com .

Articles by Andrew E. Schwartz | Many more articles on Training & Development, Executive Performance and Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


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