Tuesday, May 27, 2014

40 years of wisdom in one book. Do you know how much stress I could have saved myself if this was in my library 20 years ago!

Amazon Link
Don't let the amount of pages in Managing for Success: Practical Advice for Managers by Steven Smith give you the idea that it is "light" on practical ideas.  On the contrary, the author seems to understand an important concept that is facing all managers - especially new ones.  That concept is this:  "You will have more work to do than time, so let's just cut the fluff and get to the good stuff!"  Smith doesn't keep the reader waiting to get to concepts and advice that can save a first time manager's career and sanity.  How much money is that worth?  I guarantee you, it is worth at least as much as this "mentor on a shelf" is priced at - probably much more.

Managing for Success distills the topics of hiring, staff motivation, enriching jobs, setting goals, delegation, coaching, decision making, conducting performance reviews, holding staff meetings, building trust, and others in a way that makes it feel like you have a friend with their arm around your shoulder trying to give you the advice that they had to learn the hard way.  You can try and learn these principles yourself, and if you are lucky enough to survive in your new position long enough, you might pick up half of them.

There is even a section on "Managing Your Boss", which over the years I have found to be a skill that is mandatory for survival and sanity.

Having taught Business courses in high school for 7 years, this is the kind of book that I wish I had to point students to.  I could have chucked half of the textbooks I used and just followed the topics and expanded upon them enough to insure that they grasped the concepts and practice them in different scenarios.

Managing for Success is a book that should be read by every business student in college.  There are just some "real world" practices that your $200 textbook just won't cover.  For example:

  • "You must remove those who are a poor match for the positions they hold. This can be difficult, but without great people you cannot have a great department. If someone does not fit in and does not respond to coaching and training, the person needs to be replaced."

  • "It is not wrong to lay off people who threaten the productivity and motivation of your department. If anything, it is unfair to leave these people in the dark about their weaknesses and allow them to stay in jobs where they are failing. Do not delay the firing, but be humane. Give them time off to look for another job, but set deadlines. Consider that you may be doing them a favor. People who do a poor job are probably a bad fit and will be much happier after they find a job better suited to their needs and capabilities."
This advice may sound harsh, but I have lived this.  Spending most of your time trying to get someone "up to speed" who probably shouldn't be there in the first place could well be the worst way for a new manager to spend their time.  You don't want to be too quick to let someone go (after all - they are a real person with feelings and families), but dragging out a poor performers "career" in a job that they are ill suited for isn't exactly looking out for their best interests either.

So why does this book come with my highest recommendation?  It is better to have a game plan and hope you don't run into the situation rather than run into the situation and have no game plan.

Invest in yourself, invest a little in this book - or you may not have to worry about being a manager long enough to worry about all of the things you wish you would have known going into the position!

Amazon Link                             Author Webpage                        Goodreads Link    

(The author purchased an advertising package with Movies & Manuscripts.  This package gave the author "Head of the Line" privileges, but in no way influenced the review that was given.  This is my honest, independent review of this work.)

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