Monthly Archives: November 2008
As a keen student of new manager behaviour always on the lookout for new ideas, I picked up “The First 90 Days” with great anticipation. Michael Watkins sets out to provide new managers (he calls them “leaders”) with a 90 day plan for taking over in a new role. There’s lots to recommend this book. There’s also lots to question.
First published in 1981 and written by Loren B. Belker, the current (5th) edition has been updated by Gary S. Topchik in 2005
I very much like the style in which the book is written – easy and conversational. I also like the complete absence of “management speak” which is such a rarity in many modern management books. The book is also written in a very positive tone – looking to help the manager to motivate, develop and get the best out of people rather than controlling them.
However, this book is an enigma. It has some great management truths, ideas and concepts that have stood the test of time, yet it falls down in how some of these can best be implemented. Three that I found difficulty with were the chapters on Recruitment, Managing Change and Performance Appraisals.
For example, in the chapter on Recruitment, the authors suggest that the most important point to keep in mind when recruiting someone, is to make sure they have the right attitude. Most people would agree with this, yet the three questions they suggest to use to test for “attitude”, i.e.
- What did you like most about your last job?
- What did you like least about your last job?
- How do you feel about your last manager?
do not measure attitude. Unfortunately, neither do these type of question assess a person’s ability to do the job for which they are applying. The authors do give examples of “right” and “wrong” answers which I found, particularly in the case of the “wrong” answers to be over simplistic and unlikely to be given by many applicants.
In some chapters there were also sample “speeches” (or “talks” as the authors call them) for various events such as when the new employee starts, the “Attitude Talk” or the “Improvement Seed” for discussing a person’s poor performance. In any book this is a difficult concept to describe and get across. I think the authors could have improved these sample talks by giving more detail on their purpose, the key points to include (or avoid) and how to follow up these talks.
This book is a light read and may be a useful primer for a very new and inexperienced manager. However, it should be augmented with books that are just as practical, have more depth and have more “how to’s” which are essential for people just starting out in management. Bob Selden, author
Richard Templa in The Rules Of Management sets out to write the “unwritten” rules of management – the things they don’t teach in training courses and management textbooks. He suggests that readers will know all or most of the content already “Yes, it is all really bleeding obvious”, but many will not be applying the rules on a regular basis. Templa’s aim is to have the reader think a little more about each rule and ask “whether or not you do it”. The book is split into two parts; managing your team and managing you.
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