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Management Advice I Wish I'd Had

by Nic Peeling

Adapted from Dr. Peeling's Principles of Management. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. See below for copyright notice.

Does the world need another management book? My conviction that it does—and that it especially needs this management book—and my enthusiasm for writing the book you hold in your hands developed as a result of my experiences when I first found myself in a management role. Like many others before and after me, I was quite good at my job (as a research scientist), and so I got promoted to be a manager of research scientists. Despite being given no training to help me prepare for my new role, I soon found myself in charge of a staff of fifteen research scientists who looked to me for management and leadership. From the start, I faced a multitude of problems that I felt sure had been faced by thousands of managers before me, and for which I suspected there must be a wealth of tried-and-tested solutions from which to choose.

Still most comfortable in my role as a research scientist, I went in search of books to read that would explain the basic theory and practice of management. My first stop was a good local bookshop, where I found a dozen shelves full of management books. Scanning the shelves quickly, I discovered management books on hundreds of fascinating topics: Some were aimed at students in MBA programs; others concentrated on a particular management theory, such as total quality assurance or reengineering; some were written by the growing number of management gurus; still others were anecdotal accounts from industry luminaries. A surprising number of books were aimed either at students or at top executives within an organization. What I did not find were books that encapsulated best practice for someone facing management responsibilities for the first time. By the time I found such a book, I was well into my management career and had learned enough to know that I did not agree with much of what it contained.

Having come to the conclusion that the book I needed as a front-line manager did not exist, I became enthused with the idea of writing one. In preparing this book, I have applied my training as a research scientist to the task: Much of what I have written has been influenced by existing work on management theory and is based on the theories that underpin management, such as psychology. However, I have not set out to write a scholarly tome; I believe passionately that there is a lot to be said about the subject of management and leadership that can be described straightforwardly, in black-and-white, unambiguous terms.

I have tried to codify in this book how to manage and lead well. I am sure you have experienced the effects of bad management, and that you know instantly when your management does something that is de-motivating, crass, or apparently stupid. Nevertheless, some things often taken for granted are improved by explanation. Accordingly, where I have explained the reasons behind the techniques, I do so because I hope you will find those reasons interesting and informative. However, the best test of the techniques is to apply them and see if they work for you.

Who Should Read This Book?

I believe that the most important levels of management in an organization are the top and the bottom. There are lots of books for chief executives, but I've found no good books for those who manage the workers directly responsible for creating the real value within an organization. This book targets those front-line managers within medium and large organizations, but a lot of what I describe will apply to small companies as well. The sorts of people for whom I wrote this book might think of themselves as team leaders or section leaders, but it is most specifically for someone undertaking such a job for the first time. More experienced managers should enjoy reading it to compare how much of my analysis of good practice agrees with their own.

Structure of the Book

The book follows my own journey through management, telling the reader the sorts of things I wish I had known when I started. It is divided into chapters that treat the following broad topics:

Managing People as Individuals: You've started Day One as a manager and you meet your first staff problem. You realize that making the wrong decision could cause someone real pain, a thought that should scare you. In this chapter, I describe the techniques that will encourage members of your staff to respect and trust you as their manager. I also describe many of the basic techniques of management, such as setting salaries, staff appraisals, recruitment, and the like.

Managing Problem Staff and Staff Problems: As you gain experience at managing people, you realize that there are a host of difficult problems to be addressed that you would really rather not face—misconduct, under-performing staff, harassment, and so on. This chapter tackles these problems head-on, and so must you!

Managing People in Teams—Leadership Principles: The awful realization dawns on you that you are not just a "manager." Your team is looking to you for answers, for direction, for inspiration. The chapter explains the fundamental qualities of a great leader, of which the top four are vision, determination, judgment, and integrity.

Managing the Practice of Team Leadership: As you come to see the qualities that a good leader should possess, you realize you do not possess them all. How can you lead your team in spite of your weaknesses? This chapter looks at techniques for leading in the real world, such as leadership style, delegation, banking credibility with your team, and my most radical suggestion—faking integrity.

Project Management: You realize that you are expected to serve as the leader of a team within the hierarchy of your organization. In this chapter, I analyze how team management differs from project management.

Managing Different Types of Staff: You discover that you must manage both the different personalities and behavior patterns of different professions. Without intending to perpetuate stereotypes, in this chapter I discuss lawyers, IT staff, creative types, consultants, salespeople, and support staff.

Managing Team Culture: You realize that to be successful as a team leader, you need to foster a strong team culture. Some teams have great team spirit and obviously share the same values and aspirations, as is shown in the sections of this chapter, which describe how to build a strong team culture.

Managing a Failing Team: You are about to face the greatest challenge a manager can face: turning around a failing team. The sections in this chapter describe how to accomplish this glamorous but distinctly challenging task.

Organizing Your Team (and Yourself): Your team is growing, the pressures on you are building, and you start to realize how difficult it is to delegate tasks properly. The chapter treats the topic in a straightforward and practical fashion.

Managing Your Universe: As your team starts to deliver the goods, others in your organization begin to see your team as a threat. There is a constant stream of initiatives from your own organization that seem to be designed to keep your team from doing its job. Increasingly, you must act as the interface between your team and the rest of the organization—without losing your temper. The chapter focuses on ways to handle this role.

Managing People Outside Your Organization: It is clear to you that no team operates as an island. How you must learn to deal with your customers, suppliers, partners, and people from different cultures is treated in this chapter.

Revisiting Common Management Themes: You've mastered a lot of what it takes to be a good front-line manager but there are some remaining topics that every new manager will encounter. To address these issues, I include a chapter that summarizes common management themes.

Managing in the Real World: In this chapter, I present some practical examples, which describe various problem scenarios, and I give my ideas on how to handle each.

Drawing Conclusions: The brief final chapter contains some remarks about why I think being a manager is the best job in the world.

Literal-Reading Warning

I assume that you, the reader, are a busy person. I want you to read this book, so I have kept it fairly short and have tried to express my ideas in a colorful and memorable style. However, there are potential problems in the style that I have used:

  • You may take me too literally. In places, I have exaggerated or simplified points to help them hit home. My aim is to help you think about the issues, not to produce a recipe that can be followed precisely. Every management job has its own unique context, and this book must be interpreted sensibly in the context within which you work.

  • You may think you understand a point, and then not know what action to take in a real-life situation because I have made what to do seem more straightforward than it really is. The theory of management is simple; it's the practice of management that's hard and that cannot be learned fully from a book. What I have tried to do in this book is provide a framework for you to use as you think about your job and as you master the practice of management. To help you move from theory to practice, I make lots of suggestions for techniques that you might like to try, but remember, they must be adapted to your context.

The Golden Rule of Management

The single most important principle that new, front-line managers will do well to keep in mind is what I call the Golden Rule of Management:

You will be judged by your actions, not by your words, and your actions shall set the example for your team to follow.

The truth and the implications of this rule will be apparent time and again in numerous forms, not only throughout this book but throughout your future as a front-line manager.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This excerpt from Dr. Peeling's Principles of Management [ISBN:0-932633-54-4] appears by permission of Dorset House Publishing. Copyright © 2003 by Nic Peeling. All rights reserved. See http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/dp.html. The material contained in this file may be shared for noncommercial purposes only, nonexclusively, provided that this Copyright Notice always appears with it. This material may not be combined with advertisements, online or in print, without explicit permission from Dorset House Publishing. For copies of the printed book or for permissions, contact Dorset House Publishing, 1-800-342-6657, 212-620-4053, http://www.dorsethouse.com, info@dorsethouse.com, New: 3143 Broadway, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10027 USA. Additional rights limitations apply, as presented in the Legal Disclaimer posted at http://www.dorsethouse.com/legal.html.



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