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ARE YOU THE DRIVER OR JUST THE (BIG) WHEEL?
One critical measurement of a manager's effectiveness is the preparedness of the organization to function in his/her absence, be it temporary or permanent. (The job, you'll recall, is to get things done through other people).
It isn't an altogether pleasant thought, but in order to fulfill one of your more important obligations as a manager, you should be able to identify BY NAME the person who can and will take your place tomorrow if you don't make it through tonight, or if you're needed elsewhere on the morrow morn.
If you can't identify that person, you're undeniably filling a valuable, crucial and indispensable slot in the table of organization, but you're also a dangerously fragile asset!
Still another - and more personal - aspect of this problem: If you don't have both a viable and VISIBLE successor, you're stuck for life on whatever rung of the organizational ladder you now find yourself! ("No, we cain't promote Old Charlie...ain't nobody else can do his job!")
SIGN OFF WITH A CUSTOMIZED PLUG
Technical realty guru Allen Hainge offers this useful tip in his "CyberStar(tm) News & Views"
Every e-mail you send can be a "commercial" for your business and web site if you use a "signature" at the end.
A signature is simply a "stored" message that can be added to the end of each outgoing e-mail with one or two mouse clicks, or even automatically tagged on to all outgoing material.
Allen's preference for an effective signature is one that contains the following on separate lines of the signature:
Your Company, city and state
Your toll-free phone number
Your Web site address
A line of personal "P.R.," something like "Selling Today's Homes With Tomorrow's Technology."
Brother Hainge sez you can store multiple signatures for you to choose from in your outgoing email.
For the "how to" in your mailing system, click on "Help" and enter "Signature."
If that doesn't work, consult your local guru.
BTW, if you'd like to receive Allen's excellent (and free) newsletter, write firstname.lastname@example.org...and
tell him Joe sent ya!
BE NICE TO THE "LITTLE PEOPLE"
As a manager, you enjoy a certain measure of distinction - importance might be a better word; but it's one of those things, like underwear, that ought not to show.
With a remarkably few exceptions, the most important people you'll encounter, in business, politics, the arts and polite society, will be the least impressed with themselves.
That's an attitude worth emulating!
Those under you in the organizational pecking order don't need to be reminded that you're a big shot if you really are, and if you need to remind them, by word, deed or demeanor, you're probably not.
Always be kind, considerate, helpful and polite to those who serve you, salute you and owe you respect.
When you do so, you'll invariably see your image soar in their eyes - as well as in fact!
"ITA BUTA IN GOI"
Don't reach for either your Latin or Yiddish dictionary. The above phrase is actually an acronym - and a very useful one.
Decoded, it reads: "Is This Activity Building Up To Anything? If Not, Get Off It!
Printed on little cards that are strategically placed around your environment, it reminds you to ask yourself that question and give yourself that advice many times each day. It will keep you focused on productive activities and will also protect you from the people and situations that steal your precious time.
When interviewing prospective co-workers, avoid later problems (hirer's remorse?) by not only showing them the rewards of coming with you, but also the price tags - specifically including the areas of dissatisfaction mentioned by those who have left the fold.
These might include required extracurricular activities, irregular hours, behaviors that are frowned upon, dress code limitations and other things that have caused past difficulties.
Familiarity (with such matters) breeds contentment (after they're on board).
BEWARE OF BEHAVIORAL GRIDLOCK
Much has been written about "quadrant behavior" and how management should deal with it.
This involves, for example, defining categories like Q1 (Dominant/Hostile), Q2 (Hostile/Submissive). Q3 (Submissive/Warm) and Q4 (Warm/Dominant), then prescribing proper leadership styles to blend with each one. (For example: "Be firm in handling a Q1 team member," etc.
While such grids may be helpful in superficial analysis of individual behavior, there is danger in adopting a "one size fits all" approach to one's management style in dealing with it - i.e., getting trapped in a "gridlock" of oversimplification.
Most of the people we deal with can be found in each of the quadrants at various times, depending on the situation and their mood of the moment - hostile in certain circumstances and submissive in others.
It's perfectly OK to use those grids as analytical starting points, so long as you probe for the subtle differences and exceptions that are as much a part of human nature as our habits.
DOING IT STRICTLY BY THE NUMBERS?
Take it from no less a "numbers man" than Albert Einstein: "Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted."
It pays to keep a constant eye on the scoreboards, of course, but management involves a lot of things that can't directly be expressed or evaluated in figures.
The bottom lines may indeed be profit and production, but those results come about as a result of factors that are not entirely mathematical (morale and teamwork, for example)... and you MAY count on that!
IS EXPERIENCE THE BEST TEACHER?
Not unless you really believe it makes sense to administer tests BEFORE providing instruction (i.e., sending team members into the field unprepared for what they'll encounter).
Doing so may save some teaching time, but it's rough on the student body!
When you're in a leadership position, always be aware that "they" can't do any better than they know how, and it's your job to see that the "know-how" precedes the doing!
The late, great Cavett Robert held that "experience may well be an excellent teacher, but the tuition is fearfully high!"
GET OVER IT!
Nobody - no matter how thick their skin - is impervious to attack from unreasonable, hostile and/or insulting people.
When you're a victim of such abuse, remember that it's ALWAYS their fault - for about the first 5-10 seconds.
After that, if you haven't bounced back, it's YOURS, Bunky!