Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Becoming a Manager

Blogs and the internet are such a valuable resource for self educating on Sales and Management. This was such a well rounded article, I wanted to share it.



Becoming a Manager

By John Baldoni

It might have seemed like a good idea. After all the team had gotten off to poor start by losing its first three games, the coach asked that a huge stump be installed in the players locker room. Under the slogan, “Keep on Chopping” the coach invited players to take turns whacking at the stump. During a team meeting for everyone except special teamers, the punter decided to try his hand at the stump by himself.
Unfortunately, his foot got in the way. The coach admitted the ploy was a good one; the team had won one game. The punter was, however, sidelined for future games while his foot heals and the stump was removed. While this motivational stunt turned fiasco has more in common with the Darwin Awards than effective motivation, it is typical of the kind of thinking (or more accurately non thinking) that managers will employ to get their people focused and enthused.

Another manager, we’ll call him Jeff, did not resort to trickery when he tried to help his team. He put his heart and soul into the work. The only trouble was the work he devoted to himself to was not his, but everyone else’s. A gifted engineer, Jeff spent hours after work helping his employees with design and execution. So intent at trying to push the project forward, Jeff became the do it yourselfer on steroids. After a while, his employees grew frustrated at Jeff’s meddling and just sat back and let him go. Sadly, after six months of too many nights and weekends, Jeff’s team showed no signs of nearing completion. Jeff was replaced and the project went forward under a different manager, who shepherd the team and the project to a successful conclusion.

Common Mistake
Both the coach and the manager made a fundamental mistake; they both acted like players or employees rather than the person in charge. This is understandable since the coach had been an all star linebacker and the manager was an engineering whiz. But once they assumed the mantle of management they forgot the first rule of management: managers do not do, they enable. Management today is a process of providing the help and the resources to others to enable them to do their jobs. What the coach and manager did occurs all too often in all too many organizations worldwide. Managers think like employees instead of as managers. The results are worse than cuts and burnout, they are often the cause of lower production, weak performance, poor morale and career burnout.
Often the heart of the problem lies with a manager not understanding his job. After all, he was promoted into management by doing whatever he was good at. The head coach was a former All Pro player and good defensive coordinator; the manager was gifted engineer with a talent for problem solving and creative thinking. Somewhere along the line neither received the development he needed to become a manager. This shortcoming occurs far too often. Men and women are trust into management positions for which they are ill prepared and the results can be disastrous.

There are so many managers that we take for granted what they do. But becoming a manager is a huge leap of faith. It requires a letting go of everything you have been doing in order to move into a role that requires you help others do what you have been doing. Instead of being an engineer, graphic artist, or reporter, you become a chief engineer, creative director, or editor. Those are important positions requiring management responsibilities. You have to think and do differently.

What Organizations Can Do
So what can organizations do to prepare their people? A great deal. Here are some key things to consider.

Develop. Grow your manager as you grow your employees. Managers are the linchpins of the organization. While they may be adept at their core competency, they need to learn the skills of management, such as planning, delegation, and evaluation. Keep them learning and they will pay for their salaries many, many times over. Forget them and they will cost their organizations many times their salary.

Educate. Send the manager to school. Most business schools have fine executive education programs. If those are not practical, check out the local community college. Many run programs for first time supervisors for an extremely reasonable fee. They are well worth it.

Train. While training and development (and even education) are used interchangeably, management training refers to the basics of the administrative discipline. Depending upon the field, the basics may include courses in accounting, database management, and inventory control as well as ethics and business law.

Mentor. Many successful organizations, such as General Electric, 3M and the U.S. Army, have very success mentoring programs. Mentoring programs should begin before the manager assumes a supervisory position, but if not, as soon after as possible. The mentoring need not involve a senior leader; it could involve someone in another department one or two levels above the new manager. The point is to allow a relationship to develop.
Just like CEOs like to club with fellow CEOs, fellow managers need to spend time with their peers, not simply discussing business issues, but also engaging in practical managerial topics about people and systems.

What Managers Must Do
New managers play an important role in the development process. They are the ones who will make the difference and therefore must assume chief responsibility for their careers. Some suggestions:

Think. There is a famous photograph of Thomas Watson, Sr., the legendary CEO of IBM, seated at his desk under a sign bearing a single word, “Think.” That Watson, an consummate salesperson and inherently a man of action not reflection, would embrace the concept of thinking is revelatory, but obvious upon reflection. Watson knew that no matter what your intention, no matter what your drive, you could only be as good as what you planned. And if you want to plan, you need to think. Think ahead. And as a manager, think of the consequences of action (what will happen if I do this?) as well as inaction (what will happen if I do nothing?). That’s turning thinking into an action step and by extension a sound management practice.

Communicate. People need to know what they are supposed to do and what is expected of them. That is why managers must become relentless communicators who speak clearly, listen always, and learn from what they see and hear. Part of being an effective communicator is being seen as well as heard. Walk the halls. Eat in the company cafeteria. Good communicators also learn to ask questions as a means of finding out what is going on and also demonstrating that they care.

Administer. One of the least understood words in the management lexicon, administration combines the dexterity of a pianist with the deftness of a magician. Ministers from which the word derives are in the habit of managing the details of projects. The discipline inherent within management is the ability to get things done through a series of transactions.

Support. The role of a manager is akin to that of a coach. Managers cease to do the “actual work,” i.e., the accounting, the engineering, the purchasing, or whatever. They enable their people to do it. It requires great self discipline to stop doing something in which you have excelled in order to take on a support role. In other words, you stop playing the game and you stand on the sidelines. The difference is you are not a spectator; you are a coach, helping the others to play the game to their very best abilities.

Reflect. Managers are evaluated by their accomplishments. “What did you do today” is the mantra to which most managers adhere. So much so that they do not take the time to reflect on what they have done and how they got there. The former president of Saturn, Skip LeFauve, an engineer turned executive, suggested that managers make time for reflection by scheduling it on their calendars.

Reason To Lead
There is one element of management that we have not discussed:
leadership. It’s been said often that manager administer, leaders inspire. This is true, but you cannot really be effective unless you do both. Managers must incorporate elements of leadership into their managerial practice. The most important of which is a sense of personal leadership; that is, the feeling that “I can make a positive difference.” From that mindset, or really character framework, springs the sense of leading others. Leadership itself is about doing what is right and good for individuals and the organization. It is about moving people forward to a better place. This does not mean that leaders are pie in the sky softies. Leaders, like managers, will make hard decisions about people issues: hiring, job assignments, promotions, and of course, terminations. They must also look over the horizon at what is coming next. But, most importantly, leaders lead from a people point of view, helping people do their work and in the process achieve their potential.
You really cannot have effective leadership without effective management. And often the reverse is true. Managers should aspire to lead, and leaders should respect the discipline of management because ultimately leadership is about results. And that’s the same as management.

Keep the Faith
Becoming a manager is, for many, a thankless job. But with the right preparation and the right mindset it can be fulfilling career option, one that leads to powerful self awareness as well as a greater gift, the ability to get things done through the efforts of others. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a commitment to growth and development.
Oh, there’s one more thing. Keep your people away from all sharp objects

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Management Styles

This past weekend we were at the Corcoran Family reunion and in catching up with everyone I had a chance to chat to one of Dan’s cousins who is new to Management. It was interesting to listen to her challenges as she was 3 months into the role and was not really given any direction on how to navigate the turbulent waters of being promoted from within the team to managing the team. Certainly, being promoted from peer to manager is one of the more difficult paths that can lead to certain success or failure depending on how it is handled.

The new Manager I am speaking of is in her mid to late 20’s, early in her career, hard working, bright and personable. What is particularly interesting is that she naturally assumed Management was the Authoritarian approach - you tell people what to do. If you met her socially, she is anything but Authoritarian. She is well liked, warm, out going, and has a real presence about her which likely contributed to why she was promoted in the first place. The move into Management is a real journey into self awareness on what your management style is. This journey can be made easier if you can find a good mentor to help you avoid the land mines. If a mentor is not available then read! The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard or Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Self educate and take your future into your own hands.

For new Managers, this is a good high level overview of the different Management styles and for some it may be a starting point on figuring out your inner Manager!


Susan Corcoran


Management Styles

By Mark Grzeskowiak

There are really only two major management styles: authoritarian and democratic. Every other style of management, whether it's termed coaching, parenting, team-building, remote-controlling, etc., is a variation on one of these, or a combination of both.

Authoritarian and Democratic Managers

Authoritarian managers go by a variety of names. They're sometimes called top-down managers or micromanagers, and sometimes even control freaks. (The term "dictator" also comes to mind, but is probably

Authoritarian managers expect staff to do what they're told and generally don't allow for dispute or negotiation. For example, an authoritarian manager might ask you to perform a task. You know a better and faster way to do it. You speak up, with the hope that your manager will agree. Your manager tells you to get back to work, and walks away.

Democratic managers, on the other hand, are much more egalitarian (or participatory, a term that is sometimes also used to describe them).
They believe that seeking consensus with staff is the best way to draw on the broadest range of resources and thereby get the best results.
Democratic managers also believe that providing staff with responsibility and showing confidence in them helps them to develop as employees and as individuals. In the long run, this also means less managing on the part of the manager.

A democratic manager will, at the very least, consider what you have to say regarding your assignment. This type of manager might even bring others into the discussion. Of course, this just means that your input won't be ignored, not that a vote will be taken on your suggestion or that your suggestion is guaranteed to be implemented.

Which style is better?

Conventional wisdom has it that purely authoritarian managers are never good managers. This view makes sense, because people don't react well to being constantly given orders. Nonetheless, with business being what it is, often there isn't time to think through and discuss in detail every problem that comes up. Sometimes things just have to be done – no questions asked!

So authoritarian managers do have a place in certain situations and certain businesses. Similarly, even if a democratically-inclined manager seeks input about a problem, she will still have to make a decision. Of course, the decision will have a better chance of being the correct one if some input has come from competent employees!

Variations on Two Themes

Because both types of management styles, in their extreme forms, are problematic (no one likes to work for a dictator any more than they like to work for someone who can't make a decision), in practice, managers tend to fall somewhere in between. Some of the more common combination management styles are the coach-manager, the friend-manager, and the parent-manager.

A coach-manager will work with his employees much like you would expect a coach to work with an athlete. A good coach knows that performance isn't just about the numbers, such as how fast the athlete ran the 100m.
Developing an athlete requires more. A coach must know the athlete's strengths, weaknesses, personality, motivations, etc. This is learned by observing and listening. But a coach also requires a good amount of authority, to set and enforce rigorous training schedules.

A friend-manager will try to make sure that her relationship with staff is never just about the work. She will look for common interests (e.g., music, sports, politics) and use those to build rapport with staff. Of course, a friend-manager still needs to manage, to ensure that work is done, but having rapport makes this task easier. In the best circumstances, we do things for our friend-manager for the same reason that we do things for friends: because we like to and want to.

A parent-manager will treat staff as if they were his children. He assumes that it's his responsibility to develop staff in a more hands-on, even intrusive way. Often, this blurs the boundary between the professional and the personal, with a parent-manager not only being interested in your work, but in what you're eating, your goals in life, who you're seeing, etc. The tools that a parent-manager often uses to manage staff are similar to those used by our own parents: guilt and tough love!

Why the different styles of management?

We have already mentioned one of the reasons for different management styles – different workplaces and situations. Another reason is that personalities differ, and it only makes sense that this is reflected in an individual's approach to management. Some would also argue that the differences run along gender lines. Women are thought to be typically more democratic in their approach to management, while men are typically more authoritarian.

To draw on still another analogy, good teachers will recognize that not all students have the same learning style, and will adjust their teaching style accordingly. The same can be said for management styles – not all employees function well under any one style, and good managers will vary their style according to personality types and practical needs.

I believe that the best way to handle these differences is to understand when each extreme style is called for, but for most cases, finding a way to strike a balance between authoritarianism and democratism.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Women in Leadership

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of our client’s internal events and their dedication to hiring, retaining and understanding women in a knowledge based work force was not only impressive but fascinating. The way they articulated their finding was by applying a “gender-sensitive lens” and the summary below is how the Gender Lens is applied to performance assessment.

With this consulting firm, they found that the top three barriers for women progressing up the corporate ladder are:
- gender-based stereotyping,
- women’s exclusion from informal networks, and
- lack of visible role models for women to take lessons from or to aspire to.

In their finding they noted that women do not have any less ambition in regards to their career aspirations than men. However, unconscious biases and gender differences can play a role in whether women are able to achieve their career goals. There are clear patterns of differences between men and women on how they self-assess their contribution to an audit, project, or assignment. For example, women are less likely than men to self-promote most of their skills, talents and accomplishments. They are afraid to come across as being arrogant, self-centered, or aggressive. These characteristics are deeply rooted from childhood… Instead, being a team player who is sensitive to others’ needs is much more acceptable for women. How does this translate into the way women perform in the workplace?
There is a tendency for women to minimize their individual contributions in favor of highlighting team’s contributions. In self-assessment tests they tend to speak of their past accomplishments, what they actually did versus their future potential as a result of the skills they developed on the job. There is also evidence that indicates that women tend to place too much emphasis on their areas that need development versus their strengths making them sound like their fundamental weaknesses.
Gender-sensitive lens should be applied to help to calibrate the self-assessment and differences we may see. The reason why these differences was raised is that the company who hosted this conference call wanted to help these coachable women who might be too reluctant to promote themselves or their accomplishments, or might have overstated their development points. They wanted them to be alert to this and encourage them to seek guidance from their coaches and ensure that they are preserving a fair and balanced view of their achievements.
Management team and coaches should encourage women to complete self-assessments in a more balanced fashion. As a coach, you should try to find out what they have actually accomplished versus what tasks they have carried out. This can be done by asking follow-up questions about how their team members and clients would evaluate their contribution and the value they brought in. Everyone likes to feel they have made a difference.

As I think of the women who have worked for me in the past, this type of data would have been helpful in ensuring that I had asked the right questions to draw out information that would have added to their job satisfaction, helped them achieve more and giving them relevant feed back based on the Gender Lens.

Best regards,

Susan Corcoran