Newsletter – December 18, 2011

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Hello friends,

You know how at times on TV shows like “Friends,” one of the characters will stare off dreamily into space and remember all the great moments from earlier episodes?  Picture me doing that this month, only instead of Ross remembering my first kiss with Rachel, I’m the management geek dreaming about the best stuff we’ve sent in this newsletter.

In case you missed any of them, here are the greatest hits — and let us know if we missed any of your favorites!

1. Easier Delegation

No normal human consistently remembers everything you need to cover when delegating, so this delegation worksheet will help you run through important questions about work that you’re assigning – prompting you to talk about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of any assignment.

2. Delegate the Right Things – and Get More Time in Your Days

Now that you know how to delegate well, you’ve got to figure out what you should be delegating. But too often when deciding what projects they can pass on to their staff, managers ask themselves the wrong question: “What are the things that I think I can do better than my staff?” Instead, you should ask, “Where do I add the most value?”  You want your time to go to the jobs where the gap is the biggest — the areas where you’ll add much more value than your staff, not just a bit more, because the pay-off will be greater.

This worksheet will help you identify areas where your impact will be the greatest — and areas that you should delegate.

3. Handing Off Bigger Chunks of Work

Ultimately, you want to delegate not just specific projects, but broad responsibilities. Since a key part of doing that well is being clear about what success will look like for a given role, this simple “success sheet” will help capture your aims and then foster discussion about how to achieve them. And once you’ve finalized your goals, this progress sheet will help you monitor progress against them throughout the course of the year.

4. Better Check-ins

One way to stay on top of all these things you’ve delegated is through regular one-one-one check-in meetings with your staffers. These one-on-one meetings will give you an easy “forum” for management — a place where you can discuss current projects, balance priorities, and provide feedback. Here’s a sample of what a good check-in agenda might look like.

4. Micromanaging Isn’t Always a Dirty Word

This all feels pretty hands-on, huh? Well, as Christine Riordan points out in this Forbes article, good managers are hands-on and there are even times they should micromanage, including when a project is lingering, a strategy is changing, or results are disappointing. She also reiterates a reminder that’s our own mantra as well: “If your close supervision is needed for a very long stretch, you may not have the right employee or leader in place for the assigned workload.”

5. Having Difficult Conversations

Of course, when you’re a hands-on manager, you’ll sometimes find that not all of your staff members are meeting the high bar you need — and it’ll be your job to talk about it. Here are sample scripts that will help you put words to difficult performance conversations, including an informal warning, a formal warning, coaching out, and firing.

6. Better To-Do Lists

So you’re delegating, checking in regularly, setting strong goals, being a hands-on manager, and having tough conversations — where on earth will you find the time to keep track of it all and manage your own work?  Here’s our popular template for a daily to-do list, which keeps your focus on the key things you must accomplish in order for the day to be successful and tracks the items you’re waiting on from others.

7. What’s More Important – Good Leadership or Good Management? 

Wrapping it all up, this piece is one of our favorites: “True Leaders Are Also Managers,” from the Harvard Business Review blog. The punchline:  “A leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right, and to make sure they actually get done.”

I hope you enjoy these favorites as much as we do, and that you have a great holiday season!


Jerry Hauser
The Management Center

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