Category Archives: Management Craft

Management Quick Tip: Work yourself out of a job.

No no. Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell

Improve systems.  Streamline processes.  Eliminate unnecessary tasks.

No matter where you are in your career, don’t fall into the “if I’m busy, I must be important” trap.

Figure out how to do your job better, in less time, and people will notice.  And you’ll have the bandwidth to take on more challenging work (i.e. get promoted).

And here’s a bonus tip for those who are already managers:  Hire your replacement.

Look for smart people who want to move up and groom them for your role.

Don’t be afraid to teach them everything you know.  Their drive to succeed will increase your team’s overall productivity.  And having a successor queued up will give you the freedom to move on when new opportunities arrive.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

 

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Management Quick Tip: Work on your writing skills.

No no. Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell

Email and social media have made us all writers, no matter what our job title.

And we can all stand to get better at conveying our messages clearly, succinctly and in a way that engages our readers.

Here are a few resources to help you hone your writing chops:

 

               

                

 

How about you?  Do you have a favorite book on writing?  Please share in the comments.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

 

Management Quick Tip: Focus on the basics.

No, no.  Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell (cropped)

As managers, we tend to focus a lot of our energy on things like team building, employee recognition, and professional development.  And while those things are definitely important, sometimes you need to step back and make sure you’re covering the basics.

  • Insure your team has the necessary resources to do their jobs.  Eliminate outdated technology, streamline convoluted processes and balance the workload.
  • Provide a safe, non-threatening work environment.  Curtail any inappropriate email or other unprofessional team behavior that might make someone uncomfortable.
  • Help your team understands what they can expect from you.  Keep your management policies clear, consistent and objective.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Management Quick Tip: Treat people like adults.

No no. Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell

“Experienced self-starter.”          “Highly motivated.”          “Results-oriented.”

I find it utterly bewildering that these are the characteristics managers claim to value, yet so many still insist on monitoring their employees’ minute-by-minute productivity.

Limiting internet access.  Requiring that everyone arrive at the same time.  Tracking every second of paid time-off.  These things don’t increase productivity.

You know what does?

Engaged professionals who are not bogged down by arbitrary and insulting administrative policies.

Stop assuming that your team’s default position is to slack off and take advantage.

You’ve hired responsible, educated adults.  Treat them that way.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Management Quick Tip: Teach, in order to learn.

No, no.  Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell (cropped)

If you’re trying to master something new, consider presenting a team workshop or training session around that topic.  Putting together a course outline will highlight gaps in your knowledge, and you’ll discover new resources as you search for examples and supporting documents.  Plus, working on a public timeline will ward off procrastination and keep you moving forward.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Combating a culture of scarcity.

Water drop in glass by Nick Kean

Growing up poor, I understand the scarcity mentality.  Never having enough money makes you view the world in a particular way.  There’s the sense of impermanence – what you have today likely won’t be there tomorrow.  The constant fear of upheaval.  Learning not to expect much.  Decision-fatigue.  You hear stories of hardship making you stronger, and maybe that’s true, but mostly it makes you anxious and unsettled, even when things are good.

The same is true in an organization.  An atmosphere of scarcity leads to an underdeveloped infrastructure and undervalued employees.  It also creates limiting behaviors across your team.  Scarcity makes people risk-averse.  It teaches them to protect what they have.  To fear failure.  And these are not characteristics you want in your team.  You want your team focused on what they CAN do, not on what they don’t have.  Your team needs the confidence to try new things, to risk failure, to shoot for crazy goals.  Without that, you’re not going to get the results you need as a manager.

So how do you combat a culture of scarcity?  You probably don’t have control over resource allocation decisions at an organizational level.  But you can have an impact on how your team responds to their situation.

Start with yourself and recognize when you use scarcity language.  Stop talking only about what you lack and focus on articulating what is possible.  The “Yes, and…” technique is amazing for reframing your language and opening up creative possibilities.  Share your grand vision and set bold goals.

We often respond to a sense of scarcity by assuming we need more help.  Have you ever been on a team that didn’t feel overworked?  I haven’t.  We always assume that if we could just hire one more person – maybe an admin to pick up all the little tasks that bog us down – we could get on top of it.  But work expands to fit the number of people there are to do it.  So look for efficiencies within your current head count.  Perhaps it’s training on time management.  Or a workflow analysis to highlight non-value-added activities.  Find the person on your team with the most effective approach to a process and then share that out.  Encourage your team to learn from each other to foster a sense of camaraderie and accomplishment.

A scarcity mentality is fed by a lack of information.  Human nature tends toward worst-case scenario thinking.  When we don’t have all the details about a given situation, we fill in the blanks from our imagination.  Or from past experience – Last time we fell short of quarterly numbers, there was a layoff.  So this time, the same thing will happen.  Avoid this by creating a culture of transparency and share as much information as you can with your staff.  You may not control all the decisions that affect your team but you can earn their trust and respect by being a resource and an ally.

 

How about you?  How have you experienced a culture of scarcity?

 

(Photo by Nick Kean via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Management Quick Tip: Learn to take a punch.

No, no.  Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell (cropped)

Okay, maybe not literally.  (Unless you’re into that.)  But figuratively, in the sense of seeking out rejection.

My guess is you’re a high performer and you set a high standard for yourself.  You work hard to make sure you don’t fail.  That you’re not rejected.  That you don’t get punched in the face by life.

But don’t let your high standards get in the way of trying new, potentially painful, things.

Because that’s where the learning comes from.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)