30 Key Questions that Unlock Management

30 Key Questions that Unlock Management

BRIAN SUTTON
ROBINA CHATHAM
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: IT Governance Publishing
Pages: 341
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hh448
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  • Book Info
    30 Key Questions that Unlock Management
    Book Description:

    30 Key Questions that Unlock Management is not designed to be read from cover to cover; rather, it is a manual that provides the answers to your particular problems. It is a direct response to real questions posed by real people doing real jobs. Each section contains practical advice and immediate steps you can take to deal with the issue at hand. This book will show you how to: obtain the best from your staff and improve the productivity of your team, to manage and build a better working relationship with your boss, increase your personal power – to get noticed and increase your circle of influence, recognise and use new opportunities to your full advantage, helping you to achieve your full potential, deal with difficult political situations, have an impact in the wider organisational context and help change happen, create allies and advocates and enhance your reputation, achieve a healthy work–life balance without compromising your career prospects.

    eISBN: 978-1-84928-345-8
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. FOREWORD
    (pp. 5-6)
    Robert Ruehl

    Your first thought might be ‘…another management book…’. But let me assure you, this book is different from all the other management books I have ever read.

    Like most managers, I find that much of my time is taken up by merelyreactingto developments in the business; I constantly find myself running faster just to stay in the same place. To make matters worse, I and many of my colleagues have developed some sort of Pavlovian response to BlackBerrys beeping and flashing, rushing to fulfil perceived expectations, and exposing ourselves to unnecessary and scattered workflow. Under this...

  3. PREFACE
    (pp. 7-10)
  4. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 11-11)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 12-12)
  6. Table of Contents
    (pp. 13-13)
  7. How do I manage my team?
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 14-15)

      The term ‘team’ is much overused and in most organisational settings is a synonym for – a bunch of people who happen to work for me by virtue of my position in the organisational hierarchy. But a team has the capacity to be far more than just a bunch of people.

      Your job as a manager is to harness the capabilities of your ‘bunch of people’ and give them both a sense of direction and a modicum of freedom, so that they become a mutually supportive collective that takes a pride in achieving significant and measureable outcomes.

      Leading a team...

    • 1: HOW DO I DELEGATE WORK FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT?
      (pp. 16-26)

      Hands up all of you who donʹt have enough to do. We guess that not many hands went up. In fact, most of you probably have far too much to do, feel stressed that you canʹt keep up with all the demands on your time and seldom leave the office at the appointed hour.

      We believe that if you did an honest audit of how you spend your time, you would find that about a third is spent doing tasks that you really shouldnʹt be doing and about another third is spent in meetings where you make little or no...

    • 2: HOW DO I DEMONSTRATE MY VALUE AS THEIR LEADER?
      (pp. 27-33)

      We often get promoted to a managerial position because we are good at our job within our functional discipline – this may be a technical job, a clerical role or something practical. The role of a manager is very different from that of ‘doer’. Often we are expected to perform as a manager with little training or guidance; we may be expected to manage former ‘workmates’ and, particularly within technical disciplines, staff often have little respect, or regard, for the managerial role. As we become more focused on management activities, we also become more distant from our technical roots and...

    • 3: HOW DO I DEAL WITH POOR PERFORMANCE?
      (pp. 34-45)

      We are all being expected to do more with less. The pressure to produce and deliver is probably greater today than it ever has been before and, if certain individuals are not pulling their weight, then those that do so are under even greater pressure.

      Poor performers inject most of the mistakes and errors into a task, which usually has a knock-on effect down the line, resulting in rework and fire-fighting. It is estimated that rework and fire-fighting increase costs by a factor of 10.

      In addition, poor performers can invade an organisation like a virus; they get passed around...

    • 4: HOW DO I ENGENDER A SPIRIT OF INNOVATION?
      (pp. 46-58)

      It is common to presume that innovation is always the result of a bright idea and that such bright ideas only occur inside the heads of seriously clever people, people who are not in any way like us, people who are collected together in a special department, often called ‘research and development’.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. Increasingly, we see innovation not as something that occurs inside the heads of smart people, but rather as something that happens in the spaces between inquisitive people. What really makes innovation work is connecting people, especially people who think differently and...

    • 5: HOW DO I HELP MY TEAM TO EMBRACE THE POSSIBILTY OF CHANGE?
      (pp. 59-71)

      For many people, the prospect of organisational change can trigger a strong, even overwhelming, sense of anxiety. In extreme cases, a department, or even a whole organisation, can drift into a state of listless near-paralysis. These are the conditions that often result in entrenched resistance to the idea of change and can be the death knell for new ways of working, or the adoption of new behaviours. As a manager, your job is to guide your people through these turbulent times.

      Most organisational change initiatives fail to produce the outcomes that were hoped for at the outset. Sometimes this is...

    • 6: HOW DO I MAKE THE ANNUAL APPRAISAL PROCESS A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE, RATHER THAN A NECESSARY AND POTENTIALLY EMBARRASSING CHORE?
      (pp. 72-78)

      We all need feedback – to motivate us and to help us develop and improve our skills. It also has the added bonus of giving us a feel-good factor. Feedback takes two prime forms - formal and informal. Formal feedback normally takes the form of an annual appraisal, while informal feedback is something that should be done as part of every boss/subordinate interaction.

      Formal feedback should be no surprise if informal feedback has been done regularly, consistently and properly; however, this is often not the case and, hence, formal mechanisms are put in place to ensure that it is done...

  8. How do I manage my boss?
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 79-80)

      You may not have any choice about who your boss is, but you have far more control than you may think about how your boss treats you.

      Your boss may be good or bad, supportive or destructive, open and friendly, or secretive and manipulative. Whatever their traits, one thing is for sure – they behave differently with different people. How they behave with you depends on how you manage your interactions and how much responsibility you take for creating a positive working relationship.

      It is a truism that you tend to get the boss you deserve. When you work on...

    • 7: HOW DO I HELP MY BOSS TO DELEGATE CONSTRUCTIVELY TO ME?
      (pp. 81-90)

      At the end of a working day, do you feel exhausted or fulfilled, or maybe a little of both? Think about the things that bring about each of these contrasting states – many of us associate feelings of exhaustion with doing repetitive work, dealing with trivia and mundane tasks, lack of variety, etc. Whereas when we experience new situations, can exercise some imagination in how we deal with issues and have flexibility about how and when we provide solutions, we feel more valued and fulfilled.

      Maybe you have also noticed that when your boss hands out interesting and difficult challenges,...

    • 8: HOW DO I TELL MY BOSS WHAT I NEED FROM THEM?
      (pp. 91-102)

      After an individual or group meeting with your boss, do you ever feel a little lost and helpless? Maybe you are not sure about what you are supposed to be doing, or how to set about doing it. Most of us have these feelings at some time; what really hurts though is the knowledge that when our boss gave us the job and asked if we understood what was needed, we almost certainly said ‘Sure thing, boss’, when we were actually thinking ‘Crikey, what have I got myself into?’. Now you feel that you canʹt go back and say help,...

    • 9: HOW DO I GIVE MY MANAGER FEEDBACK THAT HELPS ME AND BUILDS THEIR TRUST IN ME?
      (pp. 103-112)

      Letʹs face it, most managers are pretty rubbish at the important things; you know, those things that generally make work a pleasure, help you develop and grow, and send you home feeling valued. The bad news is that they are unlikely to get any better because their managers are rubbish, too, and wonʹt, or canʹt, spend the time needed to develop them to be better at managing you. Now you have two choices: you can hope that fate steps in and you get a better manager, one who cares about you and is skilled enough to develop you, or you...

    • 10: HOW DO I DEMONSTRATE LOYALTY WITHOUT APPEARING TO BE SUCKING UP?
      (pp. 113-120)

      Not so long ago, loyalty in an organisational sense meant blind allegiance to your boss, your organisation, or your professional body or trade association. Such unquestioning dedication and blind following led some people to sleepwalk into situations that became, at best, uncomfortable and, at worst, intolerable. Nowadays, loyalty is looked on in a different way – when we talk about loyalty we are talking about making a personal commitment to a set of personal and professional standards that characterise our behaviour towards our boss, our organisation and our profession. Loyalty and ethical behaviour go hand in hand, and you should...

    • 11: MY BOSS IS A BULLY, WHAT CAN I DO, HOW DO I COPE?
      (pp. 121-129)

      If it is happening to you, you are not alone. A recent US study of bullying in the workplace revealed that 13% of US employees are currently bullied, 24% have been bullied in the past and 12% have witnessed workplace bullying.

      If you feel bullied, then this is an issue and you shouldnʹt let others belittle or make light of your feelings. However, you also need to look at the situation from your bossʹs perspective and through their value and belief systems. Their behaviour may stem from frustration, rather than malice. For example, some managers believe that if you are...

    • 12: HOW DO I DEAL WITH A BOSS WHO HAS AN ALIEN COMMUNICATION STYLE?
      (pp. 130-139)

      In the words of George Bernard Shaw, ‘The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished’.

      Effective communication between boss and subordinate is essential. If you and your boss are not communicating effectively, you will be wasting a lot of time attempting to deliver what you ‘think’ your boss wants, inevitably to find your assumptions are fundamentally flawed.

      One of the things we hear most from managers when coaching them is:

      Often when I come out of a meeting with my boss, I realise that I have no idea what they want me to do. Yet...

  9. How do I manage myself?
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 140-141)

      One of our favourite daydreams is to imagine how we will spend the £8.7 million that we are going to win on the lottery – notice that we are quite specific about the amount involved. It is a harmless-enough fantasy, but ultimately pointless, especially as neither of us have ever actually bought a lottery ticket in our lives!

      When it comes to managing aspirations, anxieties and emotions at work, most people take the same approach as our lottery-winnings spending plan; they engage in wishful thinking and, just as with our lottery dreams, wishful thinking never got anyone anywhere. But it...

    • 13: HOW DO I MAKE THE BEST USE OF MY TIME?
      (pp. 142-151)

      Our time is a precious and limited commodity. We buy other peopleʹs time to do things we donʹt want to do, or canʹt do, and our time is bought by whomever we work for. Most people donʹt analyse where their time goes – a similar attitude to money is called reckless spending. Here are some thought-provoking quotes on the subject of time:

      How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

      The good people are already busy.

      Work always expands to fill the time available.

      We never seem to have enough time to do all the...

    • 14: HOW DO I BEHAVE WITH A TRUE SENSE OF URGENCY EVERY DAY?
      (pp. 152-159)

      We live in a world where we can have pretty much instant access to anything we want 24 x 7. Our society seems to crave instant gratification; we want success and we want it now. Against this background and an ever-increasing pace of life, it is easy to believe that when we respond very quickly, we are behaving with urgency and that to strive for an even quicker speed of reaction is the right thing to do. The reality is that urgency and speed of reaction are not the same thing. Urgency is not about speed; it is about focus...

    • 15: HOW DO I KEEP POSITIVE WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WRONG?
      (pp. 160-167)

      We constantly have to deal with incompetence, stupidity, insensitivity, rudeness, indifference, and those who simply canʹt be bothered; the list goes on and on. Events conspire to mess up our carefully laid plans: things that donʹt turn up when they should have, a key player who goes off sick at exactly the wrong time, our car wonʹt start just as we are about to leave for a crucial meeting; as they say, life can suck, bad things happen! When they do, keeping positive in the face of adversity can be challenging. In the right frame of mind, you may easily...

    • 16: WHAT CAN I DO TO MANAGE STRESS IN MYSELF AND IN OTHERS?
      (pp. 168-177)

      Stress is now the biggest cause of sickness and absenteeism in the UK, costing the economy billions of pounds a year. Statistically, it has overtaken backache. According to the Health and Safety Commission, 41% of the workdays lost due to illness last year were attributed to stress. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that work-related stress costs the economy up to seven billion pounds per annum.

      Chronic stress is not good for us and can make us seriously ill; it can contribute to heart disease and memory loss, and suppress our immune response, making us more vulnerable to viral infections...

    • 17: HOW DO I GET THE RECOGNITION I THINK I DESERVE?
      (pp. 178-189)

      Many years ago, a friend of mine went along to the head of HR of a large organisation and said:

      Look, every year lots of people get promoted to a higher grade and better job, and there is always at least one promotion that nobody can understand. Everyone in the whole organisation shouts, ‘How did that idiot get promoted?’ This year could I please be that idiot?

      The fact is that we all like to think that we are doing a great job and we all at some time wonder why other people above us canʹt see how good we...

    • 18: HOW DO I MAINTAIN A GOOD WORK/LIFE BALANCE WITHOUT COMPROMISING MY CAREER PROSPECTS?
      (pp. 190-203)

      Pick up any newspaper or magazine and you will see that ‘work/family balance is fast becoming the hot career issue of the decade’.

      One lunchtime, while on holiday, Robina and her husband were sitting in a lovely restaurant with an idyllic view overlooking the sea. Opposite was a family of four, also having lunch. Robina observed them with curiosity over a two-hour period. The mother sat at one end of an oblong table chatting and laughing with her two children, whom she guessed were in their early teens, while the father sat at the opposite end of the table with...

  10. How do I manage my reputation?
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 204-206)

      Perception is everything – it is not what you are, but what others perceive you to be, that is important. What they see first is your reputation; it is the cumulative effect of all your deeds and how others perceive and interpret those deeds. It will also be coloured by the stereotypical images held about the professional and social groups to which you belong.

      Your reputation tends to precede you – others form opinions about you before they even meet you. They will have already formed an impression of what you may be like based upon their stereotypical image of...

    • 19: HOW CAN I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE IMPACT OF ALL MY COMMUNICATION EFFORTS?
      (pp. 207-216)

      Just because you have communicated a message, it does not necessarily mean it has been received and understood at the other end.

      We have all heard the ‘Chinese whispers’ story, reputedly from the first World War, that a message was sent back from the battle front saying ‘Send reinforcements, we're going to advance’. The message was passed from one trench to another and after multiple face-to-face, phone and radio operator communications, the message that reached headquarters was ‘Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance’.

      This story may be amusing, but it has serious and profound consequences – what...

    • 20: HOW DO I INCREASE MY CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE?
      (pp. 217-230)

      People tend to do business with, and refer people to, people they know, like and trust. The more people who know and trust you, the more referrals you will get. This is obviously important if you are in sales or marketing, but it is also equally important in every organisational setting.

      Cast your mind back to that excruciating experience at school when you all stood in a line, while two sporting stars picked their teams. They didnʹt pick the best players, they picked the people they knew, liked and trusted. If you were new and unknown, you were left until...

    • 21: HOW CAN I CREATE ALLIES AND ADVOCATES WHO WORK TO PROMOTE MY REPUTATION?
      (pp. 231-243)

      ‘No man is an island’ (John Donne, 1572–1631); we need the support of others to flourish both socially and organisationally. Another way of looking at this is to think about loyalty and what it means for you. You may, for instance, be a loyal fan of Apple – you may own the latest iPhone, iPad, etc. If you do, we think that it is a safe bet that you also take every opportunity to tell your friends about the features of your latest iPhone and how good Apple products are in general. Who needs advertising when you have zillions...

    • 22: HOW CAN I BETTER UNDERSTAND HOW OTHER PEOPLE SEE ME?
      (pp. 244-254)

      Reputations and first impressions have a huge impact on how people behave towards us: whether they view us as trustworthy or not, whether they want to deal with us or not, whether they answer our calls or try to avoid us. Perhaps the most potentially damaging aspect is how they speak about us when talking to our peers because this, in turn, colours how yet more people see us.

      Both reputations and first impressions tend to be based on very minimal information and coloured by the opinions, perceptions, interpretations, beliefs, biases and prejudices that we all carry with us. What...

    • 23: HOW CAN I BE SEEN AS SOMEONE WHO HELPS CHANGE HAPPEN?
      (pp. 255-265)

      Change is the one big certainty in our organisations. What makes us successful today is almost certain to be the root of our failure tomorrow. The problem is that when organisations are faced with instability in the environment, it generates uncertainty, which in turn leads to higher levels of stress and anxiety. This, in turn, leads to the very human reaction of falling back on established and familiar patterns and solutions. Paradoxically, the very time we most need to be flexible and accepting of change tends to be the time when we are least equipped to emotionally deal with the...

    • 24: HOW CAN I LEARN TO PLAY THE POLITICAL GAME WHILE STILL MAINTAINING MY INTEGRITY?
      (pp. 266-274)

      Organisational politics are a fact of corporate life. All business professionals need to be adept at dealing with political situations; there is, however, no single formula for success. Politics are often messy, ambiguous and unpredictable; and, to top it all, being right is not enough. Outcomes in the political arena depend upon the subtle interactions and interplays between people. Each situation will be different and unique, and what proves successful in one situation may prove disastrous in the next. In essence, organisational politics is an art, rather than a science!

      Political acumen is a key skill for anyone wanting to...

  11. How do I manage my growth?
    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 275-276)

      It is important to understand that you own your own career; your employer just affords you the opportunity to follow that career on their premises. This being the case, if you sit around waiting for your employer to develop you and your career, you will, as likely as not, wait a long time. Even the most enlightened of employers make a poor fist of career development, even if you are lucky enough to work for one of those organisations that trumpet their commitment to talent management – you have to get recognised as ‘talent’ before you can even start to...

    • 25: HOW CAN I GET BETTER AT BEING ABLE TO CONVERSE ON A WIDE RANGE OF SUBJECTS?
      (pp. 277-284)

      Having consulted in many organisations around the world, we are tempted to divide people into one of two broad categories:

      those who are afraid to engage in a discussion because they have been made to feel that they have nothing of value to contribute;

      those who have an opinion on everything and will find any opportunity to share their opinions – this last class of people tends to be much better at transmitting than receiving.

      Both groups are underperforming and both are contributing to a breakdown in dialogue. Dialogue is the oil that keeps a community from seizing up. When...

    • 26: HOW DO I LEARN TO SEE NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND RECOGNISE THE UNEXPECTED BEFORE IT HAPPENS?
      (pp. 285-294)

      Try to remember when you first learned to drive a car. Quite apart from the fact that you certainly drove a lot more slowly, we can guarantee that, as you looked out of the windscreen, your point of focus was just beyond the end of the bonnet – maybe 10 to 15 metres ahead.

      In all probability, your mind was telling you that the main perils lay immediately ahead of you and were already in your path. Later on, as an experienced driver, your focus probably shifted to 100 to 150 metres ahead. You learned not to watch the brake...

    • 27: WHAT CAN I DO TO GET BETTER AT SEEING THE BIG PICTURE AND THINKING STRATEGICALLY?
      (pp. 295-304)

      Surveys show thatstrategic thinkingis one of the top three capabilities that is valued and looked for in senior leaders.

      Most management competency frameworks include strategic thinking, so this is something that interviewers try to identify during the job selection process – but it is one of the things that interview candidates have most difficulty understanding, discussing and giving practical examples that demonstrate their capability.

      Organisations cannot survive by just aimlessly repeating what they did last year, or even last month. We need to be able to respond to changing circumstances, take advantage of emerging trends and constantly find...

    • 28: HOW DO I BUILD PERSONAL MASTERY BY FINDING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES IN EVERYTHING THAT I DO?
      (pp. 305-315)

      There is an old adage that says:

      Practice makes perfect.

      The reality is that practice just makes you better at doing what you are doing and more certain that what you are doing is right.

      Without appropriate feedback and reflective thought, we can never hope to get truly better at doing anything. The learning process is a simple one.

      We take action, we observe the results, reflect on why things turned out the way they did, and then we think about how we can modify our behaviour next time to get different or better results.

      This is termed thelearning...

    • 29: HOW CAN I LEARN BY DEVELOPING OTHER PEOPLE?
      (pp. 316-328)

      If you really want to understand and know something, teaching it to someone else is the fastest and most effective way. The act of trying to help others understand causes you to look at an issue in more depth; as you try to put yourself in their place, you will be forced to answer questions that you had not thought of before and you will start to look at problems from completely different angles.

      This is not a new idea.

      To teach is to learn twice

      Joseph Joubert (1754–1824)

      Seeing things through the eyes of other people, and grappling...

    • 30: HOW CAN I UNLOCK MY OWN CREATIVE POTENTIAL?
      (pp. 329-339)

      Creativity is associated with originality of thought, or inventiveness. The dictionary might say ‘having or showing imagination’.

      Whenever we interact with a representative of an organisation, whether that be the receptionist at a hotel, the guy from the IT help desk, or the sales rep of another company, we would like them to show a little imagination in the way they deal with us.

      What we want them to understand is that we are individuals with unique needs and that their role is not to make us fit their preferred process or product, but rather to seek to understand our...

  12. ITG RESOURCES
    (pp. 340-341)