The New Manager's Starter Kit: Essential Tools for Doing the Job Rightby Robert Crittendon
"New managers can find hope (and help) with this handbook of practical, upbeat advice from a 40-year veteran of the business battlefield. This book takes readers through the fundamentals of management, including chapters on how to successfully manage yourself, your employees, your boss, and your reputation. The New Manager's Starter Kit provides the/i>
"New managers can find hope (and help) with this handbook of practical, upbeat advice from a 40-year veteran of the business battlefield. This book takes readers through the fundamentals of management, including chapters on how to successfully manage yourself, your employees, your boss, and your reputation. The New Manager's Starter Kit provides the techniques necessary to make it as a manager, answering questions like:
• What is the biggest mistake a manager can make in hiring?
• Why must managers make communications an obsession?
• What is the "planning hierarchy"?
• When, where, and how should a manager fire someone?
• How can satisfying ten basic employee needs transform you into a leader?
With rules and tools included in each chapter, this book will help the less experienced manager master critical skills for job success and personal satisfaction."
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.42(d)
- Age Range:
- 17 Years
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The New Manager's Starter Kit
By Robert Crittendon
AMACOM BooksCopyright © 2002 Robert Crittendon
All right reserved.
Chapter OneManaging Your Reputation
It is a luxury to be understood. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The great monumental structures of ancient Greece, like the Parthenon, are said to be ones that were created with a 360-degree perspective. The building, viewed from any angle, presented the same consistent character and identity. Wouldn't you want your personal and managerial qualities expressed the same way? That's reason enough to be your own press agent. Some will reject the notion, saying, "I am not interested in having a public relations image." Trouble is, you have one whether you want one or not. The question is only whether you want to participate in shaping it.
Corporations call it image. You can call it reputation. But don't call it bragging or egotism. Making an honest effort to ensure that your personal contribution is duly recognized is simply called common sense. That conclusion would be a little more evident were we not burdened with the puritan ethic that one shouldn't draw attention to his or her own exploits and that recognition will come in due time. Granted, the amount of effort devoted to personal publicity should be held in proper check, but subtle promotion of yourself is not a totally self-centered exercise. It is closely linked with the promotion of your business team and benefits other individuals within the department, as well as the whole enterprise.
If you're uncomfortable being your own press agent, you might instead view it as an opportunity to correct any misinformation that may be out there. For instance, you may wish to correct wayward impressions that suggest you are "difficult to work with" when it really means that you are a stickler for doing the job right. Your boss needs the latter view. However you choose to view the management of your reputation, it goes with the territory and is an important step in your career ladder.
PUTTING YOUR TRUE CHARACTER IN FOCUS
I have always highly valued corporate identity in its truest sense but disdained the term "corporate image" because it sounded too much like something done with smoke and mirrors. Actually, all we want to accomplish, with the company's identity as with yours, is to make your true character visible. That can be done with a modest but continuous effort in four ways:
1. Assess the product (you) and the way it is packaged.
2. Ascertain what style changes would be prudent.
3. Decide who needs to know more about your accomplishments.
4. Determine how that should be communicated.
Look at Yourself
I don't mean your physical appearance, although if it is presentable and pleasing, you already have an advantage. No, I'm talking about a picture of your present status in the organization. A little soul searching is incredibly beneficial because it identifies areas of concern that you should be addressing anyway.
Look first at where you are positioned within the company vis-á-vis other managers and how visible you are within the management ranks. Do upper levels of management know who you are and what you do? Do you have a support base of friends and associates whom you can count on for loyalty? Do you consider yourself to be confident and to have a pleasing personality? How do you think you are perceived by others - as an up-and-coming executive or as just another employee? Does this public perception accurately reflect your skills and output? Don't feel guilty if it does and you have self-doubt about whether you are management material at all. You can still find happiness and fulfillment as a specialist in a field that you truly enjoy. If, however, you feel that you have the right combination of management skills but that they are just not adequately being communicated, then we have work to do.
We all have some idea about what a management style is, and you will have a sense of what the existing culture is for your company. If your natural style is radically different from the company culture and that of your colleagues, then you can expect to encounter some hostility in fitting in. If that is the case, you may be in the wrong company and should look for a more hospitable environment. (Don't jettison all your individuality, though, just to conform to an uncomfortable role. Remember that the only thing that may conveniently fit into a pigeonhole is a pigeon.)
Who Needs to Know?
Assuming that your style is not out of sync with the company style, your next assignment is to decide who the key players are who need to be influenced. Peter Drucker encapsulated this best in the "Effective Executive" film series with this quote: "Who in this company has to know what I am doing, and in what form do I have to present it so that he can understand it and use it to make himself a more effective executive?" It would be a good idea to copy this and keep it next to your desk. Who needs to know you better?
You may want to start with a piece of paper and draw circles connecting yourself with your boss (the one who measures your performance), as well as filling in the various people who have ongoing business dealings with you. Some would appear on a normal organizational chart, but others may be more informal connections that are no less important. You may have no direct reporting relationship with the chief financial officer, yet the CFO's image of you as a responsible administrator of the company funds that you control can have far-reaching consequences.
SEVEN KEYS TO IMPROVING YOUR IMAGE AND REPUTATION
There are a couple of ways you can approach reputation building. One is by direct impression, which is derived from face-to-face contact with people and their experiences with you. In other words, it is how you build personal relationships one at a time. Another is through image. This is created by people who may not actually know you but have heard about you (perhaps heard about you from you, without knowing it). Both approaches are important and both should be consistent. I've listed seven practices that are instrumental in influencing direct impressions with your coworkers and bosses, as well as providing fodder for the image-building apparatus. The net result is your most important asset - a positive reputation.
1. Look the part. If you want to play the part, look the part. It's no surprise that unconventional hair, tattoos, unusual beards and mustaches, and eccentric clothing have derailed many a business career. If you're in a management environment where none of that matters, consider yourself exceptional. If you're not, try paying more attention to a professional business management appearance and good grooming. Invest in some new clothes. A wardrobe made up of a few quality pieces will work better than a lot of bargain-basement items. Executive recruiters say the road to success in a business environment is greatly enhanced with a well-tailored suit and complementary blouse or shirt. Polished shoes help, too. If you are in a business that has standards for dress (the military, for instance), then follow those religiously. If you're in a profession that is characterized by more casual attire, quality and good taste are still requisites.
2. Network for success. Network like crazy! Go to every business meeting, professional society meeting, conference, and trade show that you can. Meet people who have similar interests and who may be able to influence your career. The contacts are valuable and you never know just when and how they will pay off. Salespeople are masters at it and build a network of acquaintances and customers that provides a line of communication into every account throughout their territory.
Some people network effectively until they reach the management ranks, but thereafter seem to retreat behind their walls. Networking is valuable at any stage of your career and is different from building a support system. The network is essentially a communications system and is composed of contacts rather than loyal allies. These contacts are almost as valuable because they can provide essential information about who's doing what and the environment outside as well as inside your business. Incidentally, one of the people who can be most helpful to your career is your boss's assistant. Assistants frequently have a lot of influence, so you should go out of your way to be friendly and cooperative with these contacts.
3. Develop a specialty. Carve out a unique niche for yourself. Specialize in something and become an expert in it. Become your company's focal point in that area. Study it, research it, and know more about that topic than anyone else in your area. It may be an expertise you already have - for example, you may be multilingual or have special knowledge in international relations, age and sex discrimination, government contracts, production control, environmental impacts, or the Internet. You have something that can enhance your reputation.
Now find a way to apply that expert knowledge, possibly by volunteering for an assignment or getting on a committee. I chaired the corporate trademark and graphics council and was able to become a very visible conduit for that type of information throughout the company. When I became a member of the corporation's historical committee, and later its chair, I found myself working closely with the company's founder, the CEO, and with many members of the president's staff - all of whom were invaluable contacts. Other committee tasks built bridges into other segments of the corporation. Don't avoid them. Become an expert in some erudite subject and you can almost (I stress almost) become indispensable.
4. Show that you're informed. If you read a lot, then you are going to run across good business information. Most of it will show up in newspapers, business magazines, and trade papers. Become an informal clipping service and send clips of interest to other managers. I even created a little notepad-size transmittal form with a tire track across it and the message: "Here's something I ran across that may be of interest to you." The results are heartwarming. You accomplish several things. First, you really do provide a worthwhile information service for the people to whom you send these notices. Second, you convince people that you're a person who is committed to the business and not just spending your evenings on the couch. Third, you are seeing to it that words like "expert" and "well informed" are associated with you and your reputation.
5. Be active in a professional society or association. Notice that I didn't just say join a professional association. In our company, I was happy to approve membership dues, meeting costs, and expense accounts for those who actively participated in societies and associations. I found these activities to be invaluable for myself and the staff as a way to pursue continuing education and to network, recruit new employees, and just create good friendships. It's also a way of putting something back into the pot - giving a little back to whatever profession you're pursuing. I attended every meeting and seminar I possibly could and always took notes when anything was said that I wanted to capture. Such activities may consume a lot of your time, but I still encourage the young manager to join, participate, volunteer for committees, and hold an office. It will add to your reputation inside the company and provide valuable exposure and contacts outside the company. And it's a nice reflection on the employer when an employee is an officer of the local professional association.
6. Celebrate successes in print. Create your own vehicle for spreading the good news about your department's exploits. You needn't turn the spotlight on yourself - and you shouldn't, since you are the issuing authority. But you can show by example that you're leading a first-rate team that is doing good things for the company. I prefer a one-page newsletter or cover letter that highlights a noteworthy accomplishment of the group. A typical format would state a problem and show its solution. Concentrate on the specifics of the solution without lacing the story with lavish praise. The point is to provide nice recognition for your people and subliminally let other managers know that you're doing a quality management job. In a multidivisional company, such news items also plug divisions into what their counterparts elsewhere are doing.
Although publish or perish may not apply to your position, maybe publish and flourish does apply. How about enhancing your stature in the company by writing an article for a trade magazine or other publication? There's plenty of help available on style and even guidance on what to write about. The media has an insatiable appetite for material and you just may be able to benefit from it.
7. Make alliances in high places. You probably discovered during your first days as a manager that life is easier when you have a supportive boss or well-placed supportive friends. Therein lies one of the cardinal truths of business: Since you cannot personally control everything that happens to you in business, you had best establish positive relationships with those who do. I refer to those vital few who will be making decisions that affect your career. Your boss is one, of course, as well as the personnel manager and other executives, peers, and even subordinates who populate your corner of the business world. Some make decisions; others influence decisions. Either way, you must forge a critical link with these people and then service it rigorously with direct, personal contact.
Even senior managers have confided that they wish they'd developed those relationships earlier in their career. Corporate public relations practitioners have a saying: "The time to make friends is before you need them." You can't suddenly start currying favor when you're in trouble. Personal public relations should be treated the same way. It's crucial that you build a strong support base and that it be started as soon as possible.
Excerpted from The New Manager's Starter Kit by Robert Crittendon Copyright © 2002 by Robert Crittendon. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Robert Crittendon (San Clemente, CA) has forty years of management experience, culminating as Director of Communications for Beckman Instruments, a Fortune 500 Company.
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