The Effective Manager

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I read a book last year called “The Effective Manager,” by Mark Horstman. It’s an excellent distillation of several practical management tools. Today I’ll do a quick review.

As the title suggests, the primary question the book addresses is this – “What is an Effective Manager?”

First, per Mr. Horstman, an effective manager must achieve results. Second, they must be able to retain their people.

With this backdrop, Mr. Horstman then presents what he calls the “four critical behaviors” that managers must master in order to maximize their effectiveness. He provides specific steps for improvement in each of these behaviors.

The first behavior is getting to know your people. Specifically, their strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Horstman observes that “Managers who know how to get the most out of each individual member of the team achieve noticeably better results than managers who don’t.”

How do you go about doing this? Simple. Regularly spend time with each of them.

The second behavior is communicating about performance. In my (Marv’s) experience, this is difficult for many managers, especially for those who have come up through the technical ranks of engineering or software development, since those jobs involve a high level of interaction with things vs. people.

Mr. Horstman asks us to consider what we’d like to hear from our own boss about performance. Would our performance imrove if we heard more often from our boss about how we were doing? Most of us would say absolutely yes.

The third behavior is to ask for more. As managers, we need to constantly raise the bar on performance. We do this by creating stress for our employees. Not the stress that you might initially think of, however. By creating the “good” kind of stress, or Eustress. This is the type of stress that helps you get pumped up or excited about what you are doing.

The fourth behavior is to push work down, or delegate. Pushing work down creates capacity for the organization. He outlines a simple and straightforward process for systematically delegating to your team members and increasing their skills at the same time.

My (Marv’s) methodology is slightly different than Mr. Horstman’s in some areas, but I really enjoyed reading the book. It is well writtten, easy to read, and rife with steps for practical application. It was a great refresher for me and I picked up some new ideas as well.

I highly recommend this book. There is a link down below if you want to check it out. Also, Mr. Horstman’s company, Manager Tools LLC, has a huge podcast library of great resources for managers. You may want to check that out, as well.

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