Tag Archives: Work

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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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.)

 

Giving yourself options…and a few other things I’m into right now.

tree stump on cliffThis is the view from my office window.  I keep thinking there’s some inspirational metaphor to be had… something about hanging on in the face of adversity?  I don’t know.  But it’s an interesting backdrop.


I love the idea of “engineering” the life you want and financial planner/money coach Leah Manderson hits the nail on the head with How I’m Planning to Be a Work At Home Mom Someday.

“With the work world becoming more flexible, I believe that it’s possible to have a fulfilling career that supports, rather than detracts, from motherhood. And I’m crazy enough to think I can engineer that life for myself… if I start working on it now.”

Amen, sister!  I’ve written here before that building a savings account is key to taking control of your career.  Both my husband and I have been able to leave unsatisfying jobs and/or change industries because we haven’t been saddled with consumer debt.  Does sticking to a budget suck sometimes?  Yep.  But having options is worth it.


Menlo Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan shares his company’s unique approach to workplace culture in Joy, Inc.  While there is much to think about in this book – hiring for cultural fit, creating changeable space, face-to-face communications – one bit I keep coming back to is this thought on extreme reactions to change:

“…in the face of a significant change initiative, emotional reactions fitting a standard bell curve will likely never create lasting change. You need the energy from the edges, not the middle.”


While I fear my days of being able to rock citron track pants at the office are well behind me, I admire Mary Orton’s sense of style and love browsing The Classy Cubicle.


I recently stumbled upon Grant McCracken’s take on contemporary culture via these two posts on Orphan Black.  So two recommendations here, really.  1- check out McCracken’s blog and 2 – watch this sci-fi conspiracy thriller from BBC America.  Tatiana Maslany, who plays all of the 5+ main characters, is crazy good.


P.S.  Are we Twitter friends yet?  Find me @TheMgmtMaven.

 

(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)

 

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)