The Effective Manager
The Effective Manager

The Effective Manager

This book is about managing people. It's about getting the most out of your direct reports, for two reasons: because most managers are very bad at that part of their job, yet that's the most valuable thing they do as a manager. (Location 247)

They react to the behaviors that they see and hear that they ascribe to nerves. If Paul is nervous but doesn't behave as if he is nervous, will his audience notice? Of course not. They'll think he's confident. (Location 284)

Suppose Paul is not nervous, but he engages in all the behaviors that a nervous person engages in. What is the audience going to think? That he's nervous and not confident. At the executive level, that's the kiss of death. (Location 286)

Your first responsibility is NOT to your team of directs. It's NOT to your people. You should NOT worry about them first. (Location 351)

Your first responsibility is to deliver whatever results your organization expects from you. Whether you're a sales manager, and you have to “meet your numbers,” or you're an accounting manager, and you have to “prepare the quarterlies,” or you're a project manager, and you have to “deliver, on time, on budget, in scope,” the thing that really matters is that you do what your company expects you to do. (Location 352)

You probably can't name your top five key results that you owe your organization this year. You most likely can't tick off on your fingers, with ease, the key things for which you're responsible. You may be able to say, “My boss wants me to focus in these areas,” but that's not enough. You can't quantify what is expected of you. (Location 356)

(If not having these kinds of goals frustrates or worries you, perhaps you think that everyone else has clear goals. But don't worry. They probably don't either.) (Location 362)

Ask her: “What results do you expect of me?” “What are the measures you're going to compare me against?” “What are the objective standards?” “What subjective things do you look at to round out your evaluation of me?” (If you want to know more details about how to have this conversation, go to There's a Cast for That™.) (Location 368)

Managers who produce great results have more successful careers than those who produce average results. But even reading this statement probably bothers you a little, because you've likely met at least one manager who gets great results and does well whom you despise. (Location 376)

Replacing employees is expensive. When someone leaves, there's the lost work that had been planned for, the cost of interviewing in both money and time, the likely higher salary that will be paid in the event of replacement, the time and expense of training the new employee, and the cost of less productivity by the new employee until that person can match the quality and quantity of work of the person who has (Location 388)

When there's a discussion about who is best, who deserves a promotion, and who is “ready now” or going to be “ready next,” these two metrics come up over and over again: How well did this manager do her job, as shown in her results? Did she retain her people? (Location 396)

Get to Know Your People. Communicate about Performance. Ask for More. Push Work Down. (Location 415)

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. (Location 424)

data over the years suggest that, generally, a manager who knows his or her team members one standard deviation better than the average manager produces results that are two standard deviations better than the average manager's results. (Location 431)

If you're going to manage people who are different from us—and you are, as team sizes continue to grow to save costs—we're going to have to learn to manage people who aren't like you. That means being willing to adjust depending on the person you're managing (just like you want your boss to do with you). (Location 452)

your close friends all know the names of all of your children. That's part of what makes them close friends. Your friends who are not as close know some of your children. And your acquaintances probably don't know whether you have children or not. (Location 473)

If you're smart and you work hard, you can do okay, but you're missing the biggest leverage of all: a trusting relationship with those whom you manage. (Location 477)

spending 30 minutes a week with each of your directs isn't likely to result in your becoming “friends” with them. (Location 482)

Well, your direct didn't answer that way because she thinks you're awesome. She answered that way because you're her boss. She knows you're probably not there just to chat. (Location 495)

When I trust my boss, I spend less time worrying about what her intentions are and whether I have to cover my tail on all of my work. I don't have to second-guess the “why” of a task or the delegation of it, or ask my colleagues for political support if I decide to push back on something. There's more time for results. (Location 537)

When you communicate with others, they evaluate your communications with them in two ways: quantity and quality. Quantity is the frequency of your communications. You communicate more with those whom you consider friends and trusted colleagues, and less with those with whom you have less of a relationship. The (Location 555)

If you're going to create trust and trusting relationships with your directs, then, you're going to have to talk to them frequently about things that are important to them. (Location 559)

Getting to know your directs accounts for 40 percent of the total value created by engaging in the four critical behaviors. (Location 572)

Just about the only place where feedback isn't given, isn't used, isn't taken for granted is between managers and their directs. We all say that, as directs, we want feedback, but it usually just isn't forthcoming. (Location 618)

“He tells me how I'm doing.” “When I do well, he says so.” “When I mess up, he quickly tells me, and we move on.” “I never need to worry about where I stand—she tells me.” (Location 621)

Performance communication accounts for 30 percent of the total value created by engaging in the four critical behaviors. (Location 628)

The only way to know where that line is, for each direct, is to push each direct into moments of distress and pay attention to when they start to lose effectiveness. Everyone has his or her own point of diminishing returns. (Location 653)

As managers, we're responsible not just for the status quo, but for improving the performance of the whole team. The best way a team's performance improves is if each individual's performance improves. If your team's goals are being raised (and, if they aren't right now, I assure you that someone is thinking about raising them), you need to get more out of everyone to meet those higher goals. (Location 659)

Asking for more accounts for roughly 15 percent of the total value created by engaging in the four critical behaviors. (Location 669)

You usually do it, but your directs—or at least one of them—COULD do the task. Maybe not as well as you, but close enough that the quality of the work would be acceptable. (Location 680)

The direct should do the job and not the manager, because the direct is cheaper labor. If we can achieve an acceptable quality level with less cost, for all but the most important things we do, we should do so. (Location 685)

“Well, yes, technically I'm cheaper, but that's not the whole story. I have my own work to do! I don't have time for my manager to push work down to me. I'm already fully busy.” (Location 690)

And, in a general sense, the more important work of the organization is being done at higher levels. (If you're a software developer, or a former software developer, that probably irritates you, but the data don't support your contention that what you do is the most important thing the company does.) (Location 697)

Know Your People, Talk about Performance, Ask for More, and Push Work Down. (Location 716)

to teach them before they move into the role. Otherwise, they will learn the hard way—when they're already in the role. And that means learning from their own mistakes, at a time when the organization doesn't need new, weak managers but, rather, managers as good as the ones they already have—and better—before the growth. The newer managers have to be better because, as organizations grow, growth becomes more difficult, so the same behaviors in a more difficult situation begets less performance just when more is needed. (Location 794)

Lower-level workers weren't hearing about changes until they were forced to deal with them. Managers were not told about potential market changes that would lead to product changes that would lead to operational changes in their area. There was little knowledge of some of the cost-cutting efforts that were starting. (Location 820)

The directs loved it. They rated their relationship with their manager better within three months, whereas the directs in the other group's meetings, in which the managers went first, described a decline in their relationship with their manager. Managers loved it, too, because they still got to cover whatever they wanted to cover, every week. (Location 848)

the directs, going first in the 30-minute meeting, talked on average 28 minutes: the same amount of time as the managers talked when they went first in the other group's meetings. (Location 851)

Why? Because the managers in the control group, who also wanted to get promoted, started doing O3s as well, which ruined the science involved in our study. (Location 864)

Here is a common response: “Meeting with my boss every other week, when everything else is done weekly, feels like he's putting me on the ‘back burner’.” (Location 1010)

Directs tell us over and over again that they prefer having weekly O3s. It matches the rhythm of their work. They say that biweekly O3s end up being too general and less relevant. (Location 1019)

Anecdotally, managers who have as many as 30 directs do get better results and retention when they do One On Ones, even biweekly, or triweekly. Those results are not nearly as significant as those for managers with more “normal” spans of control. (Location 1050)

If you're going to do O3s, you've got to do them with all of your directs. This seems obvious, but every once in a while in our work with client managers, we hear comments such as these: “Well, I only do them with my top two people.” “I do them weekly with one person and biweekly for everyone else.” (Location 1097)

You should not hold One On Ones with anyone other than your direct reports. This means that you don't do One On Ones with people who report to your directs. (A caveat: you can do peer One On Ones with, say, other managers who report to your boss and with whom you need to maintain a strong relationship.) [There's a Cast for That™.] (Location 1109)

For the record, “direct” means someone who reports directly to you. It doesn't mean anyone in your organization. (Location 1116)

That means that managers have to be sure to do what they say they're going to do. Thus, remembering what we've committed to do takes on special meaning. (Location 1167)

First of all, One On Ones are not micromanaging. That's ludicrous. From the company's perspective (which is the perspective the manager must take), a direct who wishes for virtually no managerial oversight is a liability risk. (Location 1269)

Micromanagement is the systemic and routine application of an intrusive relationship such that the manager assigns a task, explains what to do, how to do it, insists on total process compliance, and then observes the work in real time, correcting the work as it is being done, and, in the event of divergence from standards, taking OVER the work and completing it himself. (Location 1277)

But the main reason for the three-week lag time is that people who have full calendars the week of the announcement rarely will have that same fullness three weeks from now. (Location 1326)

Manager Tools One On Ones are business meetings. They're about building relationships, but the primary purpose of the relationships you're building is results. (Location 1431)

Managers who try these unstructured conversations discover quickly that that kind of meeting doesn't make sense in a modern workplace. Without some basic structure to your O3s, you might as well cancel them and go back to chatting with your team members in the hallway or the breakroom. (Location 1434)

first, 10 minutes for your direct to speak, then 10 minutes for you to speak, and then 10 minutes to talk about the future. (Location 1437)

The direct goes first and talks about whatever the direct wants to talk about. There is no agenda other than the three 10-minute segments. In the vast majority of the tens of thousands of One On Ones I've recorded or gathered data about, the manager did not know with certainty what the direct was going to want to discuss. (Location 1441)

“Your agenda—what have you been up to? What's going on?” (Location 1454)

I'll listen. I'll ask questions. I'll take notes. If it's important to my team member, it's important to me. That's how you build relationships. (Location 1471)

Also, it's not a good idea to send a direct a list of topics that you're going to talk about. In theory, this makes good sense: the direct will be prepared, and the meeting will be more efficient. (Location 1477)

It has been our experience that managers who share a list of topics in advance step on the direct's agenda, reducing the direct's satisfaction with the meeting. (Location 1481)

A typical O3 direct's portion includes updates about ongoing work, questions about problems they're having, project status reports, requests for assistance with budgets or communications, requests for guidance about next steps or about approaching a problem, verification of rumors they've heard, clarification of what you want or how you want something done, notifications of tasks they've finished, follow-up on pending actions, reminders of information or materials they need from you, and so on. (Location 1486)

Are One On Ones personal or work related? One On Ones create a forum for both. Trust your directs to choose to talk about what's important to them. (Location 1496)

While 74 percent of directs say that what they most want to talk about is work, 89 percent of managers say they want to talk about work. So, probably you will ask for updates on ongoing work, assign new work, ask about problems with existing work, plan for upcoming work, and share ideas for potential new work. That makes you normal. (Location 1498)

There is one exception to you talking about whatever you'd like in your portion of your MTO3. As a general rule, if there's any information that you need to get out to your entire team, we recommend that it go out in what we would call a “waterfall meeting,” not in your One On Ones. (Location 1507)

(1) Sometimes we run short; what should I do? (2) I'm way more down in the weeds than I used to be, which is great, but I'd love to have some big-picture discussions every once in a while. (Location 1521)

Don't practice what we call “agenda fascism.” [There's a Cast for That™.] Agenda fascism means you've just told your directs that you want to spend time with them and get to know them, you tell them the meeting is for them, and you share that the agenda is 10/10/10. Then, exactly 10 minutes into the first meeting, you say, “OK, time's up. I have to cut you off.” (Location 1540)

Let the direct talk. If, during every O3 for the first month of O3s, the direct talks for the full 30 minutes, let that happen. (Location 1553)

After two months, you can say, “OK, I'm going to give you a reminder at 20 minutes. You've been taking the full 30 minutes, and that was fine when we were starting up, but I have my own items to cover.” For the next month, you remind them at 20 minutes. This is not a hard stop, just a reminder: “Hey, it's been 20 minutes.” (Location 1554)

After that, the direct will be fine. We've tested this with about 50 managers. It worked well, according to both managers and directs tested. (Location 1561)

type of team member comes to your first One On One and basically says nothing. When you ask the person what's going on, he will say, “Nothing.” When you ask how the person is doing, he will say, “Fine.” (Location 1563)

You've tried three times—any more will just be annoying. So now you move on to your agenda items. Once you start realizing (after two to three weeks of silence) that there's a problem, we recommend that you start asking more questions about work status, progress, issues, concerns, and needs. (Location 1579)

For 12 weeks, don't introduce any other new management behavioral change. Just work on One On Ones, for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, you'll know your directs better, and you'll be much more aware of how to deliver the next steps. (Location 1986)

To be fair, you probably tried to talk to your directs about how they were doing, but it was difficult, wasn't it? Particularly when you had to point out a mistake. You tried to talk to them about what had happened, but maybe they got upset, or you just didn't have the right words, and so the meeting was awkward. It chilled your relationship for a couple of weeks and was a performance dampener. (Location 2003)

When you do it wrong, however, it feels really wrong to the direct. But doing it right just isn't all that difficult. (Location 2008)

The direct probably knows she messed up; she'll self-correct. If it's something good, there's no need to say anything, since she was just doing her job. You can't go around praising people doing their jobs, or they'll get addicted to the praise. (Location 2062)

The reason you should ask for permission is that the only person who can engage in the behavior is the team member to whom you're talking. Of course, you know that you can't “make” them do anything. They have to want to do it themselves. (Location 2122)

Giving immediate feedback is ideal. When athletes perform, they take an action, and they get an immediate response to their action. They can adjust based on what happens. When we drive, we turn the wheel, and the car responds. When we say something in a conversation, the person we're talking to responds quickly. (Location 2316)

In fact, being able to give immediate feedback is so unlikely that we at Manager Tools have learned that questions about feedback are often a red herring. We've learned that, when managers ask about giving immediate feedback, it's a setup. They're not really asking about when to give feedback. They want to hear us say that “Immediate is best” so that they can then describe why that means they can't actually give immediate feedback because immediate isn't possible because of all the examples we just described. (Location 2339)

A day or two later, for most directs and most managers, in most situations, is a completely reasonable, appropriate, and effective timeline for giving feedback, whether the feedback is positive or negative. If you give feedback within an hour, that's great. The value of feedback doesn't decline appreciably within the first three to five days the vast majority of the time. (Location 2360)

you're wondering how to define how long “soon” lasts at the outside, it's about a week. In other words, don't give feedback that's more than a week old. Why? The reason is that your ability to remember precisely by then has faded enough so that you may not get it right, and accuracy matters when you are giving feedback. You shouldn't say something vague like, “I can't remember what you said, but whatever it was, it was really good and made us look good.” That's not really feedback. A delay of more than a week in giving feedback will seem to the direct as having to do with hesitancy on your part or doubts about the direct. A long delay is perceived by directs whom we've asked as reflecting on the quality of the feedback you're delivering. (Location 2366)

He wasn't encouraging anything. He was threatening retribution through his role power. I helped him understand how his approach was completely off, and recommended he apologize for his mistakes, and start with feedback again. He did, and things improved. Slowly. The following are some questions to ask yourself as you think about delivering feedback to your directs. (Location 2415)

It's a reasonable concern, but it's not borne out by the facts. First, most of the managers who express this concern haven't tried the model yet. Here's what the data say: Managers report to us that 91 percent of directs, when given negative feedback in our format, change their behavior after one instance. (Location 2502)

But there's a better way. And there needs to be, because we're obligated as managers to get the most out of our directs as we can. If a direct is capable of more/better/higher performance, the manager is obligated to work hard to make it happen. (Location 2679)

Start thinking about things that might work. When they do, celebrate (Location 2770)

The idea with all brainstorming is simply to go for volume, not accuracy. This again runs counter to what a lot of managers want—a silver bullet—which, of course, doesn't exist. We're not looking for the one right thing. We're looking for lots of possible things, hoping that out of all of them there will probably be one to five things that will collectively get us where we need to go. It is silly for us to assume we will know exactly how to improve someone else in some skill that we ourselves are not necessarily good at. (Location 2780)

Deadlines that are going to be enforced but that are believed to be reasonable and reachable are a big facilitator of coaching success. You don't need clever learning techniques, or special budgeting, or someone to analyze your direct's learning style. Reachable and reasonable deadlines drive behavior better than anything else. (Location 2846)

It's encouraging effective behaviors to get results. And at the end of this week, Derek will have read the first chapter of the book, while the vast majority of managers can't be sure even half their team will read the book in a month. (Location 2858)

Notice, we don't say, “Brian, can you do me a favor?” This isn't a personal request. It's a work request. We're asking nicely, but we're not getting personal. We also don't say, “Sarah, I need some help.” That word “need” gives the direct the impression that they don't have a choice. But the best delegations allow the direct to say no. (Location 3095)

The direct knows they can say no, and they choose to say yes. That ability to choose frees up that last full measure of work devotion that we want from them. (Location 3180)

Either you will ask another direct, which works far better than most managers expect, or you will do the work yourself. Strategically, of course, it also suggests that you look at your efforts toward building trusting relationships and asking yourself, “Did I not see something, or was I unaware of what her situation was? (Location 3192)

There is one problem with delegating earlier in the rollout process than at the end of the process. If you delegate before you've rolled out feedback and coaching, you won't have those tools at your disposal if you need them in order to help the direct to whom you've delegated responsibilities. (Location 3221)