New Managers Category
In the “New Boss”, author Peter Fischer sets out a transition plan for moving into a new management role – a senior management position. From the outset, he posits his seven building blocks of a successful leadership transition – Managing Expectations, Building Key Relationships, Analysing the Situation, Clarifying Objectives, Creating a Climate for Change, Initiating Changes and Using Symbols and Rituals.
As the jacket cover explains Total Leadership is “adapted from author Stew Friedman’s popular Wharton School course”. I found that to be both the strength and weakness of this book. Friedman’s core concept of identifying one’s values and then using these to improve your leadership in four areas (domains as he calls them) is simple, yet brilliant.
The original edition is based on interviews with 19 new managers and their thoughts on becoming a manager. As such, it was an interesting, but somewhat hard going (sentences and paragraphs are wordy), read. Although the 19 managers are all from customer service or sales, their stories translate well to other professions.Read More
I like the approach the author Morey Stettner takes with this book for new managers. As one would expect, it covers most of the topics a new manager would need – and they are handled in a clear and practical way that make it easy to absorb and apply. In addition to that, Stettner is a realist. He doesn’t presume to “know it all” and that his suggestions will fit every new manager’s style or needs. He asks new managers to try them out and adjust to suit. This is an unusual and unpretentious approach for a management “how to” book.
How To Become A Great Boss is a book of rules and anecdotes. It’s easy to read – in fact it only took me about 2 hours from cover to cover. All the rules mentioned by Jeffrey J. Fox are appropriate and if applied, would work well for all bosses. Now there’s the rub – “if applied”. There is no suggestion in How To Become A Great Boss as to how one might apply these rules, merely a description of the rule and an anecdote to illustrate.
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
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