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November 14, 2005

Management: 10 Tips

Your Business Blogger was recently asked by a client to evaluate a manager's management skill set. He was being overwhelmed. And he is not alone.

If you are like most managers, you feel you could be doing better. Much better.

As you set out to plan, organize, lead and control, how can you get the results you want?

time_is_money.jpg
The most common complaint I hear from managers is on time management.

But there may be something even more important on which a manager should focus.

Discipline.

We all want military-like discipline as we run our business units.

The Army has the perfect definition for discipline. It has two components. Most would be familiar with the first part:

1) Prompt obedience to orders.

But it's the second part that managers really need from subordinates:

2) Initiation of appropriate action in the absence of orders.

Most often, we think prompt obedience will get the manager more time. Efficiency.

But what most managers really need is initiative from their team. More effectiveness.

This is a review of the basics to get more discipline in your business. Following are 10 tips to remember as you knock about your office:

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Slanted Desk
1) Desk. Think of your desk as a pyramid with the apex pointing up. Paper does not rest on your desk, nor your boss's desk. Paper is never allowed in horizontal file piles. Whenever a memo or an email attachment comes to you, it will slide off -- back to whoever carried it in. It will have your signature on it, an action to be taken (by someone else), filed or destroyed (by someone else). You will not let it rest on your desk as you think about it because you use your...

calendar_girl.jpg

Calendar Girl
2) Calendar. If an action comes to you from a subordinate, it should only require a decision. If you cannot make a decision immediately, direct your staff to return later with more detail. Open your calendar and you both set an appointment.

Do not say, "I'll think about it." This puts the action on your desk and nothing, of course, is on your desk. Or on your mind, except making your tee time.

You synchronize calendars with your subordinate and ink in a return time for him to brief you. Again. If some thought is necessary, your direct report does the thinking. (Because you ask all the right questions.)

Your staff develops options, and returns with suggested courses of actions and recommendations. You do not have to have all the answers all the time. With a fully staffed recommendation you can use your...

phone.gif

Pick up the phone
3) Telephone. Which you will use to get the resources your staff needs to accomplish the project.

Your voice and your charming personality will be needed to secure the extra budget needed to move the enterprise to the next level -- with the ideas bubbling up from the cubicle farm down the hall. If you are not getting the responses or the initiative you need, you will use...

sales_shoe_leather.jpg

4) Shoe leather. Management by walking around made the rounds a few years ago and is still useful if you need to plant your boot on a backside. Or to deliver an atta-boy in real life. The most effective persuasion is done face-to-face. Toe to toe. Walk over and overwhelm in person.

And to memorialize your praise, you will use your...

fountain_pen_waterman.jpg

5) Fountain Pen. A hand-written note, black ink, heavy card stock, delivered by snail mail. Your cursive writing will almost balance your cursive yelling.

Neutron Jack Welsh was hated by many of those he fired, and loved by those who received his hand-written notes.

The single biggest reason people quit jobs is because they don't feel appreciated. They may feel they do not measure up with your...

ruler.jpg

6) Ruler. Your standards and measurements should be open and transparent. A subordinate should never be surprised by personnel evaluations.

Other measures may be more objective.

It is often difficult to measure precisely a forecast, a budget, a winner. The good manager will include a margin to exploit delightful opportunities or a cushion if blind-sided with setbacks. Keep 20% up your sleeve. Of your well-tailored...

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Army
Staff Sergeant's
stripes
7) Uniform. Your appearance should mirror your boss's boss. Not your staff. You must be seen to be different.

In America we have a common mis-belief: We are all equal in the eyes of the law; but we are not equal to each other.

Understand snobbery. (Just like when Your Business Blogger was a ghost-writer for a former Presidential candidate...)

A white hardhat, custom made shirts (yes, French cuffs and no pocket). You no longer carry a lunch pale, you carry a...

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Managers as part of your company's
brief case drill team
credit: John L. Russell
8) Briefcase. This is your tool box. Which is nothing more than a bag to carry cables, adaptors and chargers.

As you advance up the food-chain, you will carry less and less. Fewer and fewer 'tools.' You will lose the briefcase/sample case, then car keys, then house keys, then cash. I'm not talking Alzheimer's.

As a professional manager you are not burdened with earthly possessions or a load bearing equipment harness. You will get lighter and lighter. Until, like President George Bush, you carry nothing at all.

Do not carry papers in your briefcase. You get paid for your wisdom in making decisions. Not schlepping around pulp.

Does your boss's boss lug a briefcase? Or does he have a sherpa to do the heavy lifting?

Start by carrying a bag that is exactly like your immediate boss's. Imitation and flatterly and descreet sucking-up. However, most of the time, just like a consultant, you will always be carrying your...

laptop.jpg


jkontherun
9) Laptop. With a detailed dossier on everyone you know. And noting every time you send them a thank you card. (Using the fountain pen, natch.)

With a separate contact database for your Christmas card list. The typical congressman has 1500 names of his closest friends on his yearly season's greeting snail mail card. Set a goal of 200 names for your yearly mass mailing. This will complement your more frequent emails from your...

blackberry_rove.jpg

credit Michael Robinson-Chavez
Washington Post
10) Blackberry. A typical span of control is 10. An Army squad. A football team. (The President's Cabinet is a bit unwieldy at 14.) You do not need to control every action of every individual in your organization.

Just your 10 direct reports. That's all.

Follow-up and pestering supervision these days is easier with email. Remember with any incoming email, reply ASAP even if you have no substance -- do let the sender know his message was received and acknowledged. Your email inbox must be treated the same manner as your desk. They both are pyramids where everything slides off.

You will notice one office accoutrement not listed above: A clock.

clock_wall.gif

Forget Time
Management
This was not an exercise in time management.

The above ten tips will get most managers more discretionary time. More time to simply think and to dispense wisdom. True discipline will give you those moments to reflect, per chance to dream.

The clock will now become your friend.

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Posted by Jack Yoest at November 14, 2005 05:32 PM

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Comments

Yes!
Thanks, as an overwhelmed executive, I found this very helpful!

Beth

Posted by: beth at November 17, 2005 12:56 AM

Beth, Getting control of executive time management is the #1 challenge leaders face. Do keep in touch and let us know what works for you.

Best,
Jack

Posted by: Jack Yoest at November 17, 2005 09:19 AM

Good wisdom.

Posted by: Terry at November 19, 2005 12:23 AM

Terry, thank you for your comment.

I think you also have the right word for all of us: wisdom.

"I want to grow up to be a wise old man." anon.

Thanks again,
Jack

Posted by: Jack Yoest at November 19, 2005 07:35 AM

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