Tag Archives: Management

5 Ways for Students to Gain Management Experience

First Student #281 (cropped) by ThoseGuys119
You don’t need to be a business major to benefit from gaining management experience.  With a BA in Anthropology, I speak from experience when I say most of us don’t end up using our specific degrees in our careers…at least, not directly.

It’s hard to know what you want to do with your life while you’re still in school.  And who knows what the job market will look like in 10, 20 or 30 years anyway?  So the smart money is on building skills that will open up the widest range of options for yourself in the future.

Whatever industry you eventually choose, the ability to effectively manage a team will put you a step ahead of other entry-level professionals.

Here’s how to get that management experience before entering the workforce:

Mentoring and Tutoring
Being a mentor is a great way to build interpersonal and coaching skills.  Tutoring will teach you to train, motivate and evaluate individual performance.  Take it a step further and start your own mentoring or tutoring program to gain experience building and managing a team.

Event Planning
Putting together a conference, lecture series or movie night allows you to demonstrate your ability to effectively coordinate people and resources.  Events are perfect for learning how to delegate, resolve conflict and work with service providers.

Volunteering
Volunteering for a good cause is rewarding work experience and many organizations are looking for someone willing to take on a specific project.  Create your own management training by putting together a project team and motivating them to succeed.

Industry organizations are also a great opportunity to volunteer for outreach or other service projects.  They also often have elected leadership positions that require management skills (meeting facilitation, financial management, etc.).

Entrepreneurship
Starting your own business is a great way to learn any number of management related skills.  Solopreneurs won’t gain much people-management experience, so create a business plan that requires you to bring on team members.

Student Government
Student government can offer many leadership opportunities beyond just running for class president.  Start a club or organize a service project.  Coordinate campus tours or create a mentoring program for incoming students.  Student government is also a great way to hone your public speaking skills.

 

And remember…employers are always thinking about how to manage and motivate the next generation of employees.  Experience managing your peers has put you a step ahead, so highlight that in your resume, portfolio and online profile.

 

(Photo by ThoseGuys119 via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

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.)

 

Adjusting your mirrors.

Rearview mirror by Massimiliano Calamelli

“I have to adjust my rear view mirror when I leave the office at the end of the day.  When I drive to work, I’m upright and full of energy, but when I leave, I’m so tired, it’s like I’m a few inches shorter.”

A woman I worked with years ago told me this and I remember it because, at the time, I had the opposite experience.  I arrived at work slouched in the driver’s seat, dreading the day ahead of me.  But I left with a spring in my step, standing tall and looking forward to 15 hours of freedom before I had to return.

My coworker was seemingly content and quite successful, while I hated my job and was ready to move on.  But when I consider how our work was impacting our bodies, I think both scenarios are equally grim.

Even if you love your job, should you be so drained at the end of the day that your whole bearing is affected?  Sure, hard work can be satisfying.  Leaving tired isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  If the work is good, you leave tired but fulfilled.  Or tired but energized.

But just plain tired?  That tells me something is out of whack.

What do you think?

Can we judge our job satisfaction by our posture at the end of the day?

 

(Photo by Massimiliano Calamelli via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

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)

 

Opening the door to creative possibilities.

yes and no by abhi

I’m always intrigued when I find the same idea popping up in two totally different contexts.  It makes me think the universe is saying,  Hey.  Seriously.  Think about this.

This happened to me with the phrase “Yes, and…”.

The concept comes from improvisational theater and the rule is, when asked a question or given a suggestion, you must reply with “Yes, and…”.

I read the idea first in Parents magazine as a means of playing more creatively with your kids, and then found the concept again in Dan Pink‘s book on sales, To Sell is Human.

Here’s the thing:

Using ” Yes, and…” opens the door to creative possibilities. 

It forces you to use your imagination and encourages participation.

And it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

In trying to incorporate this idea into my own life, it has made me aware of how often I use the phrase “Yes, but…”.

Where “Yes, and…” opens the door, responding with “Yes, but…” closes it.  It negates what the other person said and effectively shuts down the conversation.

Consider this:

A team member comes to you with an interesting but unexpected professional development opportunity.  How do you respond?

Yes, but it’s not in the budget.”
or
Yes, and we can review the budget to see if there are any extra funds available.”

See the difference??

Try using “Yes, and…” and observe how your personal and professional interactions can be enhanced simply by your choice of phrase.

 

Originally posted July 1, 2013

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

(Photo by *_Abhi_* via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

When did overwhelm become a noun?

Mosaic Salsa by brillianthues (cropped)

As in “How to Fight Overwhelm” or “Overcoming the Overwhelm.”

This use of overwhelm as a noun is a pet peeve of mine.  Now, I don’t exactly consider myself the Grammar Police.  I can overlook the occasional your/you’re or there/their mistake.  I can appreciate the creative use of language.  (Think different.)  And I understand that language evolves.  (Because internet.)  So why does this overwhelm thing get under my skin?

Feeling overwhelmed.  Finding a task overwhelming.  These are transitive states.

But when we take overwhelm as a noun, it becomes something outside ourselves.  An entity.  A separate thing that we can’t control.  It implies that taking on more than we can handle is an unavoidable fact of modern life.  Like gridlock.  Or the Kardashians.

But is it?  We certainly have an increasingly large number of demands on our time, energy and attention.  But to overwhelm is an action.  We need to remain clearheaded about who is putting stressful demands on our resources.  Because ultimately, it is a person, and likely, it’s ourselves.

I find this much easier to deal with than some amorphous entity we’ve dubbed Overwhelm.

What do you think?

 

(Photo by brillianthues 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)

 

The right place at the right time: a lesson from Mad Men

Apt Bld Elevator Up by  terrykimura

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Spoiler Alert!  If you missed Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, stop reading now.

If you’re a fan of the show, then you know that Mad Men masterfully conveys the complexity of office life.  And that amid all the cocktails and indiscretions, there are real business lessons to be had.  One recurring irony of the show that I particularly love is that, despite our best laid plans, our careers rarely play out the way we expect them to.

Take, for example, Don Draper’s former secretary Dawn.  She is unfairly dismissed by her new boss, but after a string of seemingly random events – a funeral, a lost purse, a bad phone connection, an unidentified bouquet of roses – she finds herself promoted to Head of Personnel.

Although a somewhat extreme example, I’ve found that this is the way change often happens in the real world.  Unexpected situations arise and they’re dealt with on the fly.

So should we take from this that our professional advancement is completely at the whim of politics or chance?  Hardly.  Dawn may have been in the right place at the right time, but she was promoted because she had proven herself smart, capable and tough.

The takeaway:

  • Always do more than is expected of you.
  • Step up to new challenges and responsibilities.
  • Demonstrate your character and integrity.
  • Share your personality in a genuine but professional way.

Do these things, and at some point, you’ll likely find yourself in the right place at the right time.

 

(Photo by terrykimura via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Finding balance.

Finding balance

This weekend, my son got his first bike.

It’s the kind without pedals, meant to teach him balance.  Riding it is all he wants to do.  All the time.  And when I look at his little face, so totally focused on his task, I can see myself.

My energies tend toward extremes.  If I do something, I want to do it 100%.  Otherwise, I feel that I lack commitment.  That I’m somehow an imposter.

Whatever I’m tackling, it can’t be anything unless it is everything.

So being a stay-at-home mom was a struggle for me.  Although I love being with my son, much of the Mommy lifestyle is outside my comfort zone.  I find all the activities, classes, and play dates physically and mentally draining.  And for awhile, I beat myself up for that.  I felt that if I wasn’t giving it everything, I wasn’t doing it right.  Or worse, that I didn’t deserve this awesome opportunity I had been given.

But we can’t shame ourselves into being something we’re not.

At some point, we have to accept that we are who we are and move forward.  My kid will be just fine, even if I’m not the most outgoing Mom on the playground.  And my career will be fine, too, even if for now, I can only squeeze in a few hours after bedtime.

Like the bike with no pedals, it feels awkward and scary.  But eventually we find our balance.

 

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)