Spot The Good Manager

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 27, 2009

“In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark McCormack, “Managing Through People” by Dale Carnegie and Associates and “The One Minute Manager” by Blanchard and Johnson are some recent best selling management books.

Here are some extractions from those best sellers and one other book that is not so well known. Try to identify the source of each passage. Which does your experience agree with?

1. Busy people have short attention spans, so get to the point. Don’t drag out a presentation…..all you’ll succeed in doing is irritating them, or worse, making their minds wander. Also, learn the attention spans of the those you deal with. In dealing with some, if I’m on any one subject more than forty-five seconds their mind is going to be on something else.

2. The notion of short attention spans probably develops more from impatience on the part of owners than anything else. Keep sessions short. This is for your sake, really, so that you won’t lose your temper and spoil all the effort the two of you have put in.

3. Here’s what you must do to get ready to teach a job. Decide what the learner must be taught in order to do the job right. Have the work place properly arranged. Put the learner at ease. Get him interested in the job and desirous of learning it. Instruct slowly, clearly, completely and patiently, one point at a time.

4. Consistency pays. In training, always use the same words for the same ideas. Make training sessions pleasurable for both of you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be serious about training. You should. But be pleasant and friendly. Patience, patience, patience. Not that they are such slow learners, but people are often unreasonable in their expectations. When you first start training, make sure there aren’t any distractions.

5. All of us are self-centered, suckers for a bit of praise. But the fact of the matter is that our talents are distributed normally – none of us is really as good as he or she would like to think, but rubbing our noses daily in that reality doesn’t do us a bit of good.

6. Whatever their disposition, you can be sure that they love praise. The only exceptions are those who aren’t on good terms with the boss. If a good relationship exists, they have learned to value your approval over everything else.

7. Put the accent on the positive. Catch people doing something right. When you see something being done right, go over and make contact. Give praise as soon as something is done right. Specify exactly what was done right and be consistent.

8. Besides the emphasis on positive reinforcement, our training technique stresses operant conditioning. What this means to you is that to be effective you must wait until the behavior you want to reinforce occurs naturally. Because this technique follows the natural behavior pattern, it requires a bit more patience in the beginning.

9. Negative reinforcement will produce behavioral change, but often in strange, unpredictable, and undesirable ways.

10. As for negative reinforcement, it is advisable only in cases which you can convince them that the bad consequences come from the environment and not from you. True, they may perform in order to escape the negative consequences, but only when you’re around.

11. Praising works well when you praise immediately. Tell them how good you feel about what they did right. Let them feel how good you feel. Shake hands or touch them in a way that makes it clear that you support their success.

12. If you pay attention to what you’re doing, praising and rewarding the exact behavior you want, they will learn easily and correctly. You’ll soon discover exactly in what form they like their praise. Some want to be pounded on the back, still others, the verbal types, would rather hear the approval than feel it. Whatever form it takes, positive reinforcement should always come in the form of praise or affection.

Here are the answers and the moral of the story. The odd numbered paragraphs come from our best sellers. #1 Harvard, #3 Managing People, #5 & #9 In Search Of, #7 & #11 One Minute Manager. The even numbered paragraphs came from our guest selection, “21 Days to a Trained Dog”. Do you ever remember having somebody tell you that you can learn a lot about a person by watching the way they treat a pet?

In addition to reading all these high priced best sellers, maybe we can learn to spot good managers by the way they treat their pets. Because it’s your business, recognize those who display common sense and a humane spirit.

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