DEV Community

Cover image for First-Time Manager (Book Notes)
Brian Gaines
Brian Gaines

Posted on

First-Time Manager (Book Notes)

I was recently extended an offer to be a software engineering manager and figured I would read a couple books on the topic so I'm better prepared in my new role.

I'm sharing my raw book notes (mostly taken from the book) after reading my first book, "First-Time Manager". I've skipped a few chapters for the sake of my time and applicability in my current situation, but 90% of the book is summarized below.

I hope this helps others as this is a great "cliffs notes" or it may inspire you to purchase the book or not.

Starting Out

  • Refrain from immediately instituting changes in the method of operation. Be patient. If you do, you'll be resented (Can be construed as being arrogant and an insult to predecessor)
  • If and when changes are needed, let everyone know in advance what and why (Does not need to be every detail). Being left in the dark is more disabling
  • Answer questions as honestly as possible. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know"
  • The judgement of knowing what to disclose and what not to is part of being a manager
  • Your direct reports will have more to say about your future than your superiors so make sure to communicate well with them.
  • You are going to be judged by how well your team functions, the results your team delivers, so the people who now work for you are the most important people in your business life.
  • The use of authority is where most new managers blunder.
  • View authority of the new position as you would a limited inventory. The fewer times you take from it, the greater impact it will have when it's needed.
  • The greatest by-product of a softer approach is that you're not building a negative image
  • Sometime within the 1st 60 days you should have a one-on-one with each of the people you manage. Don't do this the first week or so. Give your people a chance to get used to you being there. If done too soon, you may overwhelm or intimidate your team members.
  • When you do meet with them, make it an unhurried discussion about anything that is on their minds. Do no more talking than necessary. This first discussion is not designed for outward communication; it's designed to open the lines of communication from them to you.
  • Employees' personal concerns are important, but it's preferable to restrict the discussions to work-related topics (avoid giving personal advice, you're not qualified!)
  • It's important that you show a genuine interest in their concerns and learn of their ambitions within the company. Ask questions that will expand on their points of view. You can't fake genuine interest in others; you're doing this because you care about the employee's well-being.
  • If you can help employees achieve their goals, they'll be more productive and it's even more important that they see they're making progress towards their goals.
  • Your goal in the early conversations is to let your team members know you care about them as individuals and you're able to help them achieve your goals.
  • Let them know that if possible you want to help them solve the problems they are facing in their job
  • A good rule of thumb is not to have more direct reports than you can meet (one-on-one face-time) with once a week.
  • Don't let one-on-one meetings with team members slip. If they know they'll get meetings with you each week, they will be able to save up items they need to discuss until that meeting.
  • By not having dedicated meetings, a lot more ad-hoc contacts that do not facilitate thoughtful decision-making and more issues being brought to you than necessary. Your team may find ways to resolve items themselves in between meetings.
  • If in a bad mood, there is nothing wrong with saying to the employee "Look, I'm really not in the greatest mood today. If I seem a little irritated, I hope you'll forgive me". It's better to disclose that you're distracted than to risk a team member thinking he is the cause of your behavior.
  • You should work hard at being even-tempered, but don't be the person who disguises all your feelings.
  • Keep cool at all times. Always remain calm, even in troubled situations. You'll likely think more clearly and be in a better position to handle tough problems.
  • To be an outstanding manger of people, you must care about people. If you enjoy their company and respect their feelings, you'll be much more effective than the task-oriented supervisor.

Building Trust and Confidence

  • One of your main goals is to develop the trust and confidence of your employees, no only in their own abilities but in their opinion of you. They must be confident that you are both competent and fair.
  • Building confidence in employees is not easy. Your goal is to help them establish a pattern of success.
  • Your job as a leader is to give team members tasks at which they can succeed.
  • Occasional, the employee with perform the task incorrectly or just blow it. Handle these situations carefully, they have great impact on their confidence.
  • Never correct them in front of others (Praise in public, criticize in private)
  • Even when you discuss in private about an error, your function is to train that person to recognize the nature of the problem so the mistake is not repeated. Your attitude about errors will speak louder than the words you use.
  • Your statements must be directed toward the correcting the misunderstanding that led to the error, not toward any sort of personal judgement. Never say or do anything that will make the employee feel inadequate. You want to build confidence, not destroy it.
  • Examine the error based on what went wrong, where the misunderstanding occurred, and go from there.
  • Be cautious to praise in public. It can make the person feel uncomfortable and others could react negatively. Know your team and how they might perceive it (if okay, it could be a morale booster for the entire team) before blindly praising in public. You can always praise privately to the individual who is receiving it. "Praise in public or private"
  • Allow team members to have input into decision-making processes that affect them.
  • Solicit ideas on how a new idea might best be worked into the daily routine.
  • If you get input you cannot implement, you'll be wise to briefly explain why you not be going in that direction and when doing so, don't be critical of the advice or person.
  • Don't demand or expect perfection. It's not good for productivity.
  • Build a trusting environment
    • Allow for mistakes and help individuals see their errors, giving praise and recognition, involving others in decision-making processes, and avoiding perfectionism
    • You can share the vision of the organization and the department with your team members. Doing so gives them a clear picture of what the goals are and how they are helping to meet them.
    • You can give individuals clear directions. This shows that you know what you are doing and are keeping things on track
    • You can share examples of how you have succeeded and what mistakes you have made. Doing so build rapport and makes you real to the team.
    • You can talk to each team member to learn what each one wants from the job. Doing so demonstrates that you really care and your are serious about helping them advance professionally.

Show Your Appreciation

  • Show appreciation!
  • Praise lets employees know that their work is important
  • Takes one second to give and it costs nothing
  • When praising:
    • Be specific - so the behaviors can be repeated
    • Describe the impact - How it fits into the bigger picture
    • Don't overdo it - too much positive feedback diminishes its value
  • When giving praise, describe the behavior, action, or performance that deserves it, then you describe why it deserves your appreciation and the business impact of the contribution

Being an Active Listener

  • Successful management is the ability to listen actively, which means letting the other person know that they have been heard. Do this by involving yourself in the conversation, making clarifying statements, asking questions, summarizing what you have heard, and using appropriate visual and vocal cues.
  • Most people are poor active listeners, but it can be developed over time.
  • The more you listen, the more successful you will be
  • Listen twice as much as you speak
  • Listening more provides you with more insights and information to then make better decisions on.
  • If you want to be thought of as a brilliant manager, being an active listener
  • Active listeners encourage the other person to talk
  • When active listeners finally talk, they don't turn the conversation back to themselves. They continue the other person's line of communication
  • If you have other thoughts coming into your head, then stop the conversation to jot down that thought, so you can refocus and get back to listening. Let the other person know that you have this idea in your head that is blocking you from listening to them fully.
  • A well-placed comment shows you're listening:
    • "That's interesting"
    • "Tell me more"
    • "Why do you suppose she said that?"
    • "Why did you feel that way?"
  • The height of active listening is restating what you heard - "Let me see if I understand what you are saying"
  • When you need to close the conversation, try one of these phrases:
    • I appreciate your coming in
    • It was nice talking to you
    • You have given me a lot to think about
    • Let me think about that a while and get back to you
    • You can also you body language to help like getting papers together, hand on the phone, or shifting your body to do something else.
    • It's important to recognize this terminating remarks with others.
  • People enjoy being around someone who shows a genuine interest in them. Be that person!

The New Manager's Job and Pitfalls to Avoid

  • As manager you need to play many roles - coach, standard setter, performance appraiser, teacher, motivator, visionary, and so forth. You select the appropriate role based on the situation and the objectives you want to accomplish.
  • The "Just be yourself" advice is not a good idea, it'll prevent you from using the different roles that will make you a successful and effective manager.
  • Most experts agree that managers have certain main responsibilities no matter where they work or who works for them:
    • Hiring - Finding individuals with the skills or potential skills and commitment and confidence to succeed in the job
    • Communicating - Sharing the vision, goals, and objectives of the organization, what's happening in the department, unit, group, or business community
    • Planning - Deciding what work needs to be done to meet the goals of your department that, in turn, meets the goals of the organization
    • Organizing - Determining the resources that are needed to perform each job or project and deciding which staff members do what
    • Training - Assessing the skill level of each of your employees to determine skill gaps, and then providing instructional opportunities to close these gaps
    • Monitoring - Making sure that the work is being done and each of your employees is succeeding with projects and assignments
    • Evaluating - Assessing the performance of individual team members, providing them with valuable feedback, and comparing their performance to the levels needed for that person and the team to be successful
    • Firing - Removing people from the team who are not able to make the contributions necessary for themselves or the team to be successful.
  • Give full attention to the needs of the people in your area of responsibility. Genuine concern is a sign of strength, not weakness. Concerns must be genuine, you cannot fake it.
  • Genuine concern means seeing that your people are properly challenged, that they're appropriately recognized, that they're rewarded when they perform well, and that they receive accurate and timely feedback on their performance.
  • Your team members look to you for leadership. You serve as interpreter for the employees, as you are a primary source of information on the organization's broader strategies and goals.
  • Pitfalls of being a Manager include:
    • Becoming overly involved in the work of the team. As you manage more people it's impossible to be involved in every facet of the work they do, so being now by distancing yourself from the details of each task and concentrate on the overall project.
    • Thinking that the work you used to do, now performed by someone else, is more important than other work.
    • Not rolling up your sleeves in a "crunch and crisis" time. Absolutely, help them.
    • Delegating responsibility without authority

Dealing with Superiors

  • Support decisions even though you might not agree.
  • Keep your manager informed of your plans, actions, and projects
  • Be considerate of your manager's time and try to schedule appointments or meetings at your manager's convenience
  • Be well-prepared. Present your arguments and concerns logically and objectively and have examples and facts to back up what you're saying
  • Be willing to listen to your manager's viewpoint. Your manager may have experience or information you are lacking that led you to a different conclusion.
  • Know your manager's preferences:
    • How they process information (verbally, in writing, graphically, in presentations)
    • The level of detail they prefer (extensive, overviews and summaries, big concepts)
    • Their level of immediacy, meaning how concerned he is about having all the latest information right away or if he prefers that new information be presented after it has been contemplated (wants new info right away, prefers you to process and consider info before you share it with them, would rather receive info at regular time in the day or week)
    • The topic that interests them and the topics for which they have little interest. (what fascinates them, what does not interest them, what causes them to check-out)

Choosing a Managerial Style of Your Own

  • Autocratic - Telling others what to do and uses authority constantly
  • Diplomatic - Getting others involved and uses authority judiciously
  • As a manger, you should use the "awareness approach" when selecting an appropriate management style. To be aware, you must use the right amount of control and encouragement for each of your employees. Some employees need a lot and some need a little, but then some fall in the middle.
  • Control is:
    • Telling employees what to do
    • Showing them how to do it
    • Making sure that the work gets done
  • Encouragement is:
    • Motivating
    • Listening
    • Running interference so employees can do what is expected of them
  • It would be helpful to assess the different employee types on your team based on what they are currently working on with the understanding that these can change based on the situation:
    • Type A - Very motivated to do well, but lacks the skill or knowledge to succeed (Needs control from you)
    • Type B - Lost motivation, but has the skills to do the job (Needs lots of encouragement from you)
    • Type C - Performs very well and is also motivated (Needs little of control and encouragement)
    • Type D - Lacks both ability and willingness to perform (Needs lots of control and encouragement)
    • Type E - Has medium amounts of skill and motivation (Needs medium amounts of control and encouragement)
  • No single management style is always appropriate. The situation and the individual should dictate the style you apply to a team member.
  • You may need to be more directive than usual fi there are short deadline emergencies for which absolutely no defects are acceptable.
  • Other times, you may need to be more hands-off to get team consensus to surface.

Building a Team Dynamic

  • Team dynamic is the willingness and the ability to work in an independent fashion where team members need to rely on other team members to accomplish their work or to achieve the goals of the team.
  • The manager can no longer be the expert. They have team members who are far more expertise than they have. In these instances, you cannot tell people what to do in this case, but rather you should support and guide them and let them come up with work-related answers.
  • If you want your team to succeed and perform at the highest levels possible, you need to build a team dynamic, which includes the following 6 factors:
    1. Open communication - A team that cares passionately about its task is very positive
    2. Empowerment - Giving team members the right to make decisions concerning the work they're doing (within some boundaries of time, money, choices, etc.) - Giving the team the power power of decision-making you will notice that a confidence, camaraderie, and feeling strength emerge.
    3. Clear roles and responsibilities - Team members know what is expected of them and others
    4. Goal clarity - Make sure everyone knows the goals of both your team and the organization. Your team goal is a "goal statement" and would describe how your team or project contributes to the overarching goal. Benefits include:
      • This allows people to make more of their own decisions,
      • Fewer issues will need to be escalated to you to resolve
      • Decisions will be made more quickly
      • Organization will be more agile and adapt to changes more quickly
      • Organization will be more efficient
    5. An effective leader - To build a effective team dynamic, do these things:
      • Set clear goals for each team member and for the team
      • Give clear directions for those who need it
      • Share examples and experiences for your personal successes and mistakes in order to relate to the team
      • Emphasize the positive rather than the negative in your talks with your team.
      • Give continual feedback to each team member and to the team - both positive and constructive
      • Use small successes to build team cohesiveness
      • Practice what you say
      • Express your and the organization's appreciation through rewards, if available
      • Develop a constructive relationship - you and the team are working together toward the same goals.
      • Make change happen for the better by encouraging creativity and innovation
      • Encourage self-reliance and professional development
      • Encourage team members to express their views during conflict and share yours with them
      • Help your team see its connection to the larger organization, customers, and the community
    6. A reward and accountability system for both individual team members and for the team.

Management vs Leadership

  • As a manager you need to both manage and lead, but it's vital you know the difference. Management is about controlling and leadership is about inspiring.
  • Management
    • More top down and directive
    • More structured
    • Focuses on methods
    • More directive
    • More focused on correcting
    • Determines methods
  • Leadership
    • More bottom up and participative
    • Less structured
    • Focuses on exceptions
    • More of a coaching dynamic
    • More focused on affirming
    • Establishes goals then lets team members determine their methods

Managing Problem Employees

  • There is nothing wrong with rehabilitating an unproductive employee if it's done with the full knowledge of everyone involved.
  • You will be much more effective as a leader if you can solve your own problems in your own department and not unload them onto another department.

Managing Change: Dealing with Resistance

  • Be prepared to embrace change and be a champion of it, as well as, accept and support changes that you might disagree with.

No Secrets

  • Team may get misinformation or assume something that is not correct
  • Allows team to be more self-directed and make good decisions on their own (gives empowerment)
  • You will gain more credibility by timely sharing accurate information. Team will see you as a reliable source
  • It's a managers duty to see that the facts and perceptions are basically the same b/c people act upon their perception of the facts
  • No all information should necessarily be shared with the team and manager needs to determine when that is the case
  • Hopefully, we've hired team members who are capable of taking initiative and making their own decisions.
  • If people know nothing, they assume something
  • Better off communicating too much than too little

Human Resources

  • Build a good working relationship with HR. They can be biggest ally.
  • HR can help with (hiring, coaching, training and development, employee assistance programs, benefits, wage and salary administration, discipline procedures, promotions, performance appraisals, dealing with difficult bosses, termination, and all the legalities involved with managing)
  • Sometimes, first-time managers are excluded from the hiring process, which is a mistake; they should at least be involved in the process to develop hiring skills.
  • Managers have far greater commitment to the success of selections they've made than they do to those who were selected for them and then assigned.
  • HR are in a position to help when we need people from other areas of the company for the staff we need.


  • It's often better to give our loyalty until it is proven that it is not deserved.
  • A manager who is a cynic is a poor role model and will not be inspiring to his team.
  • Don't trash the people you lead
  • Don't trash the company
  • If company does not deserve your loyalty then it's time to move on


  • Get people to want to do what needs to be done, willingly and not by force.
  • Find out what motivates the team and blend those motivations with the needs of the organization, then create an environment in which the team can succeed.
  • Ways to find out what motivates people (observe behavior, get to know them for a few months, or complete a survey or questionnaire, or just plain Ask them)
  • Primary responsibility of manager is to change the feelings of team members from "have to" to "want to"
  • Need to know how people react and to what?
  • Be attentive to what team members share.
  • Always looking for ways to blend interests and aspirations of your team members with the needs of the organization (dovetailing).
    • Questions to ask?
      • What are your professional goals?
      • What do you want to be doing three years from now?
  • Be attentive for opportunities to align these personal aspirations with what the organization needs to accomplish

Understanding Risk Inclination

  • Risk Quotients (RQ) can help make you a better manager by giving you awareness how you might match up with others.
  • Understanding your team's RQ can help you consider what tasks to give to particular team members and how to structure teams.
  • RQ's are situational and they do change based on successes, setbacks, and other events
  • There is no ideal or preferred risk inclination (avg is about 6.5)
  • The goal as a manager is so that you're aware of it so you have a fuller understanding of how to communicate with and motivate the team member and utilize their talents.
  • A probing question might be...What information is going to be most important to you when I present you with a new opportunity? I don't have anything specific in mind, but I just want to be prepared in case something comes along.

Encouraging Initiative and Innovation

  • You and your team will not be successful if you create a structure in which you make all the decisions
  • Question: How will you respond when a team member makes a bad and costly decision on your behalf with limited information to go off of? (Remember, we are teaching our team to take initiative and being able to make decisions themselves). Keep the long-term view in mind to keep your team agile and effective. This will send the message that you are serious about empowering your people. 1. Review the circumstances of the situation with the team member(s) involved 2. Do not be critical 3. Explain that your goal is to make sure everyone learns from the experience and that the mistake is not repeated. 4. Drive the conversation toward what can be done differently next time to get a better outcome 5. Make it clear that while the team members cannot afford to make the same mistake again, you appreciate their willingness to take initiative and want to encourage them to continue to do so.
    • Explain the situation to your supervisor so they understand the bigger picture behind the flawed outcome. Emphasize that the team member did what they were asked to do and the training value you have gained from the situation. While the outcome was undesirable, it was created by an uncommon situation and is part of helping a team member grow.
  • Every time you are finding a new way of doing something, you are being innovative
  • Innovation involves risk and good outcomes are not always certain. As a result, it's important to reward the effort as much as the outcome.
    • As in the review above, in the context of being innovative, finish up by informing the team member that even though the outcome was not successful as desired this time, you appreciate their willingness to be innovative and creative and want to encourage them to continue to do so.
  • It's how you respond to the negative or less-successful outcomes that will determine the climate for innovation in the organization.

Improving Outcomes

  • Big part of responsibility is to find ways to do things better, faster, cheaper, and more efficiently and you need to be successful much more often than you are not. Need to be mindful of opportunities and execute well.
  • You need to risk intelligently (Book: The Power of Risk) so as to be successful as much as possible. The secret is to steer risk skillfully - the effort, the initiative, the idea, the process, to a successful outcome
  • By assessing risk you are practicing a good deal of mental discipline
    1. Identifying the risk
      • Be clear and specific with identifying the risk with the information available
    2. Assessing the likely outcomes
      • determine the range of outcomes and chances of each (don't make it too complex) - Best, middle, and worst case outcomes
    3. Improving the chances of success
      • POSEM - "possibility of success enhancement measures" - Any effort that can improve the chances of a desirable outcome or reduce the chances of an undesirable outcome (hiring successful candidates, investing in market research, strategic partnerships)
      • Ask yourself "what if..." questions and think outside the box to think expansively
      • Many POSEMs involve doing some research
    4. Updating the assessment of likely outcomes
      • Outcome % reflected based if applied POSEMs
    5. Conducting a disaster check
      • Could you live with the worst case scenario?
    6. Deciding and proceeding
      • Whether or not you go forward with an idea, you are making the decision confidently provided the risk assessment you took.

Generation Gap

  • Your job is to sell your employees on the concept that they are all fortunate to have you.
  • Don't try to fake an answer. Just admit to it and let the person know you will get back to them. "Good question, I don't know the answer, but I'll find out and get back to you"
  • If employee brings you a problem, you might respond with "Do you have a recommendation?" or "What do you think ought to be done?" if the person coming to you has common sense.
  • Being a mentor simply means that you take the professional growth of employees into account as you lead them and do all you can to facilitate that growth.
  • One style of leadership does not work for everyone. An effective leader needs to be aware and responsive to each employee's unique traits.
  • Be careful not to mistake mentorship as being a friend. You are not their "best buddy".
  • There is some advantage in reviewing the past performance appraisals of your direct reports when you take on a managerial role, but remember to keep an open mind.

Managing Remote Employees

  • Treat offsite team members the same as onsite team members
  • Use all the communication tools with a bias towards video as they provide better interaction.
  • You'll want to have weekly one-on-one meetings.
  • You'll need to have clear written expectations so your remote team members know what is expected of them.
    • Performance goals
    • Reporting requirements
    • Availability - theirs and yours
    • Response times - theirs and yours
    • Work hours per week
  • For remote teams, you need to have absolute clarity of outcomes and schedules - meaning what they need to deliver and when they need to deliver it by

Doing Performance Reviews

  • A manager's responsibilities
  • Set goals and objectives so employees know what is expected of them
  • Provide training and coaching to help employees succeed
  • Provide ongoing feedback on performance
  • Prepare the paperwork for the review
  • Conduct the review in a timely manner
  • Understand and communicate the review's importance
  • Be thorough and base the review on the employee's performance, not on your own attitude

  • Performance based on:

  • Volumes or production levels

  • Thoroughness

  • Accuracy (or error rate)

  • Initiative/self-starting

  • Attitude

  • Ability to learn

  • Cooperation/ability to work effectively with others

  • Attendance and punctuality

  • Ratings:

  • 80 to 100 pts: Outstanding

  • 60 to 80 pts: Commendable

  • 50 to 60 pts: Satisfactory

  • 40 to 50 pts: Needs improvement

  • Less than 40 pts: Unsatisfactory

  • "I get the sense that you would be more effective if you took more initiative"

  • "Well, let me tell you how I arrived at that conclusion" is better than "You're way off and I'm going to tell you why"

  • The performance review is twofold.

  • To give employee accurate assessment of how they're doing

  • More importantly, to inspire employee to improve performance

  • Always start a performance review with a couple of positives first

  • Documentation will help clarify disputed assessments, so be sure to continuously document throughout the year

  • If you tell employees where their job performance is not up to expectations, then you must also tell how it can be improved.

  • Creating an Agenda for the performance review. Questions to ask yourself:

    • What areas of this employee's performance or attitude should you mention?
    • What areas not covered in the performance review do you need to mention?
    • What are some of the items of personal interest about this employee that you should bring up?
    • What questions should you ask that are likely to generate some conversation and opinions about the work?
    • How can you help this employee do a better job? What are the areas in which this employee will be self-motivated?
    • How can you let this employee know he is important to you personally, not just for the work performed?
    • How does this employee fit into the company's future plans? Is this person promotable? What can you do to help her advance?
  • One-page tool to help in several management situations.

    • Divide paper into 1/3rds with the categories strengths, areas for improvement, and goals
  • Document over the course of a review period to avoid the "halo-effect", "horns-effect", "recentness-effect", "strictness-effect", and the "central-tendency"

Post review checklist:

  • Explained the purpose of the interview
  • Found out the employee's views and feelings on her performance
  • Allowed the employee to do the majority of the talking
  • Pointed out where the employee is doing well
  • Offered suggestions for improving performance and asked the employee for suggestions (if necessary)
  • Put the employee at ease by creating a relaxed environment
  • Agreed on action plans for improving performance (if necessary)
  • Set a time frame for improving performance (if necessary)

Developing a Positive Self-Image

  • New managers often have difficulty accepting responsibility for the mistakes of people who report to them.
    • Solve this problem by building your entire management role: Select better trainers, develop better internal controls that minimize mistakes and their impact.
  • You don't need to advertise your weaknesses. That's foolish; just be willing to admit them to yourself and do all you can to correct them.
  • Decision making methods: solo, participative, delegated, and elevated (be flexible in your approach, don't stick to just one)
  • Other than lead by example, there is authentic leadership, which is about gaining the regard of your team by being real and genuine, by exhibiting the behavior you seek and matching your actions with your statements.

  • Attend classes or trainings by the company, but be selective.

  • Be subtle when tooting your own horn. Don't be blatant about all the things you're doing to excel. Very few bosses will ask you what you're doing to help yourself get promoted, so you need to help them out with that.

  • Develop a style of communication that is a degree of understatement so others aren't offended and you don't come across as too pushy

  • One of the best ways to let your colleagues aware of your abilities is to develop your presentation skills.

Managing Time

  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Don't let the perceived urgent interruptions kill your day or focus
  • May want to issue a closed office period to allow for focus work to get done
  • The need for reflecting. Give yourself some quiet time without distractions
  • Tips for other time management ideas
    • Set deadlines
    • Remember the difference between something being important and something being urgent
    • Keep a record for a week or two on how you spend your time
    • Plan your day
    • Plan your week
    • Follow the 70/30 rule (schedule no more than 70% of your day, leave the rest of your day unscheduled)
    • Schedule set times for sending and returning phone calls, reading and sending emails, office hours, etc.
    • Don't wait for that perfect time for you to be in the right mood do work on a high-priority item
    • Reward yourself when you get one of those A-priority items completed
    • Develop the on-time habit. Show up on time, hand in things when they're due, and encourage your employees to do the same

The Written Word

  • When trying to make a point, trying using a story. Stories are more powerful than even a well-reasoned argument. They will also make assertions more memorable.


  • It is very important that managers learn how to delegate
  • By delegating more, you can focus less on performing tasks and more on managing and leading
  • Delegating is not doling out, but rather raking something that you currently do and giving it one of your employees for the purpose of developing her skills and making your organization more effective.
  • Benefits of delegating include:
    • Getting employees who are more involved and motivated because they are acquiring new skills, developing themselves, and being more involved in the success of the organization.
    • It's cost effective for the organization because now there are more than just you who knows how to do something and it frees you up to do other things that are better use of your time and talents.
    • It can help you broaden your perspective. By delegating, it frees your mind to see challenges and opportunities further into the distance. Hard to do that when you're in the trenches.
    • It's one of the most powerful training tools at your disposal.
  • Delegation needs to be practiced and often times, managers are not confident of the outcome, which is why it's not done more than it is.
  • The only time not to delegate is if someone above you tells you not to or if you have someone who is not ready or is too busy.
  • What should never be delegated:
    • Personnel responsibilities
    • Things that are sensitive in nature
  • Try to delegate 100% of what you can possibly delegate. Make sure to clearly explain what has to be done and monitor progress. Delegating requires absolute goal clarity.
  • Let person delegating to come up with the how to do it. They have a different experience, perspective, and creativity than you. It will also keep them motivated vs being told exactly how to do it.
  • The core strategy is that you expend only the level of effort honestly required to achieve and acceptable outcome.
  • Resist taking on delegations from your direct reports. If this happens, help them with the project or find a subject matter expert to help; do not take it over. You want to be in the business of developing others, not rescuing them.

Sense of Humor

  • Don't take yourself too seriously
  • Develop a sense of humor
  • Encourage laughter at the workplace. Having a work environment that is fun and where laughter is welcome will bring the best out of employees (show up more, work harder, and be more productive).
    • Start each meeting with a joke (or have one your employees tell the joke)
    • Have bulletin board/slack channel devoted to laughter (jokes, memes, etc)
    • Don't be sarcastic. You may come off as a cynic and it's not a welcomed trait to executives
    • Use humor as a tension reliever

Managing, Participating, and Leading Meetings

  • Meetings are very expensive
  • Always consider alternatives you have to holding a meeting.
    • Informational meetings can be emails with attachments
    • Discussions can be in chat or virtual discussion with an online document through comment tracking
    • One-way communication does not require a meeting unless meeting participants never see each other, then once in awhile, it's nice to bring the group together.
    • Perhaps do a cost vs benefit analysis to determine whether to go ahead with the meeting
    • Provide an agenda in advance for scheduled meetings, if you can.
    • Don't speak just to speak and don't be completely silent
    • Never say anything uncomplimentary in a meeting about your staff. Handle situations, not personalities
    • Establish ground rules:
      • Not talking when someone else is,
      • Agreement that comments will be about the topic and not the person talking about topic
      • Avoid side conversations
      • Staying on topic
      • Allowing everyone to participate
      • Commenting on the suggestion, but not the messenger
    • Ask someone to capture notes and positions from the meeting

If you made it down this far, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Have a great day!


Top comments (1)

jschleigher profile image
James Schleigher

Very insightful! As a first-time manager, I can feel the challenges and excitement at the same time. One important thing that I do is find the right tool to collaborate with my team. This is important because everyone can collaborate, and I can keep track of my team's progress and keep everyone on the same page. I'm using project management software like Trello or Quire.