The First-Time Manager

Welcome to my The First Time Manager summary!

One-Sentence-Summary: A manual on how to be effective in your first management position and navigate the corporate environment, including politics.

As a manager and for your employees, it’s your ultimate job to “remove as many obstacles to their success as possible.” (p. 33)

booboo real-time book rating: ★★★★☆ (18% of books have this rating)

My Favorite Quote from The First-Time Manager

Not necessarily management related, but the following passage gave me a lot of wisdom: “Go back in your memory to the days you were taking driver education to learn how to operate an automobile safely. The first time you got behind the wheel was quite stressful. With experience, your ability to drive improved to the point that driving now seems as natural as brushing your teeth. The situation has not changed, but your experience and reaction to it has changed.” (p. 276)

Stress comes from the unknown, whether talking to a girl for the first time or freediving to 20 meters on one breath. After you do it successfully, you gain experience, and your reaction changes as does your stress.

Rewarding Initiative The Same As Outcome

On encouraging innovation, which is risky and comes with lots of failure: “by rewarding the effort as much as the outcome.” (p. 154)

If the employee takes a step outside their comfort zone and shows initiative, if you want that to continue, then you should incentivize that, and one way is by showing much appreciation for the attempt.

“The solution is to have a system of rewards and awards that recognizes initiative whatever the outcome.” (p. 154)

This blog contains both my summary and review of the book The First Time Manager.

the first time manager summary talent management matric 25-1

First-Time Manager Summary

“A big part of your responsibility as a manager is to find ways to do things better – faster, chapter, and more efficiently.” (p. 157)

On delegation: “You may want to have the team member who is taking on the task compose the email so you can verify that he is clear on the understanding.” (p. 245)

“In a poll conducted by a major company in the United States, employees were asked to rank work attributes they considered important. Salary came in sixth. What came in first, by a wide margin, was a ‘need to be appreciated for what I do.'” (p. 25)

As a manager, you need to use the right amount of control (telling, showing, reviewing) and encouragement (motivating, listening, clearing obstacles) for the following types of employee states:

  • Type A: Very motivated, but lacks skills. They need mostly control.
  • Type B: Lost motivation, but has the skills. They need lots of encouragement.
  • Type C: Performs well and is motivated. They need little control or encouragement.
  • Type D: Lacks ability and willingness. They needs lots of both.
  • Type E: Medium amounts of skill and motivation. They need medium amounts of both.

Did you know I’m an author? I wrote four books on real estate investing, travel, and language learning.

People are motivated by their own self-interest. Find out what motivates an employee, and use that to get the best out of them and in place of your authority. Your frame in motivating employees to do their best is getting them to feel “want to” and not “have to”. An employee could be motivated to get the job done to a high degree or to get by.

  • Promotion/title
  • Manager’s approval
  • Money
  • Reputation/status symbols (ie a preferred parking spot)
  • Achievement
  • To be employed/not be unemployed
  • To be part of something greater than themselves/team accomplishment

Motivation can change (ie motivated by achievement, but after the employee buys a large home, they’re not motivated by a steady job and good salary).

“When you can align the professional and personal goals of a team member with the needs of your organization, you have a committed and engaged employee.” (p. 138)

This is Effective Leadership

It’s your goal an effective manager to do 100% of the below items taken from pages 60-61 from The First-Time Manager:

  • Set clear goals for each team member and for the team.
  • Give clear directions for those who need it.
  • Share examples and experiences of 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.

On Writing Emails

“Always keep in mind that not only does an email represent you to others, but it is likely to be permanently archived. Emails can be forwarded countless times. Something poorly stated can find its way to colleagues you have never met. You do not want to start at a deficit in their minds when you meet them because they have read a poorly written email you sent. On the positive side, a well-written email speaks well of you and burnishes your reputation for being thoughtful, professional, and persuasive.” (p. 240)

“..imagine that you’re writing to a friend. Neve conjure up hostile feelings because they may come through in your writing. Imagining a friendly face will bring a friendly, warm tone to your communication.” (p. 239)

When giving praise or showing appreciation:
  • Be specific (especially if you want that behavior repeated)
  • Describe the impact (most team members like to know how their work ties into the bigger picture. If it did, let them know how it positively impacted other functions/teams of the business)
  • Don’t overdo it
When mistakes happen:

First, ensure your expectations were clear with the employee.

  1. Review circumstances
  2. Do not be critical
  3. Verbalize goal: everyone learns and avoids same mistake
  4. Drive convo to what can be done better next time to achieve desired result
  5. Make it clear that while the team member 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.

About disciplining an employee whose standards have not improved: “That’s an interesting observation you’ve made about the quality of your work, because that is not what I am seeing.” Why do you suppose my information is different from yours?” (p. 97)

When giving a public speech or presenting: “Tell them what you are going to tell them (do this in the opening), tell them (do this in the main body of your talk), then tell them what you told them (do this in your conclusion).” (p. 266)

How to reduce resistance: “The best strategy is to involve your employees in the change. Above all else, provide as much information as possible. Because resistance to change is based on a fear of the unknown, you need to minimize the unknowns.” (p. 92)

You are reading my book review and summary by Jim McCormich, Gary S. Topchik, and Loren B. Belker. Be sure to check out my digital bookshelf for 100+ book summaries.

Hiring and Interviewing

“Ms. Valencia, before we start talking specifically about the position you’ve applied for, I’d like to tell you a little about our company. Because, while we’re considering you, you’re also considering us, so we want to answer any questions you may have about our company.” (p. 73)

“An important strategy the manager brings to the interview process is silence. When a person does not answer right away, the silence may feel uncomfortable but if you jump in, you are not as likely to get the real answer.” (p. 77)

“So how do you assess judgment in the interview process? Give the candidate real life situations they may face on the job. Ideally, these are situations where the best direction is not obvious. There may even be situations where there are multiple acceptable paths to take. Present them with the situation, and then ask them not how they would proceed but how they would make their decision on how to proceed. Get a sense of how they process information and make decisions. Get a sense of the extent to which they see information voids they would seek to fill. In essence, get a sense of their judgment skills. This should not be a brief part of the selection process: Because this is likely to be time consuming both in preparation and execution you will probably only take your last and best candidates through the process.” (p. 80)

“Do not ask the former supervisor directly if the person had follow-through. Ask if they were reliable when given a task. Ask if they met deadlines. Ask how closely they had to be managed.” (p. 80)

Upon hiring an employee, you should have the Attitude Talk: “One of the reasons I selected you for this position is that you display the kind of attitude we want in this organization. Your application and tests indicate that you have the capacity to handle the job. Many of the people who applied had the qualifications to do the job, but the one reason you were selected above all the others is that you display the kind of attitude we are looking for. We believe that the difference between an average employee and an outstanding one is often attitude. Not everyone in this organization has a great attitude. What do we mean by attitude? The attitude we’re talking about is one where you are not worrying about whether you’re doing more than your share. It’s an attitude of pride in doing high-quality work and gaining a sense of accomplishment at day’s end. It’s personal satisfaction in a job well done. We believe you display that kind of attitude, and coupled with your ability to handle the job, you will make an outstanding addition to our organization.” (p. 81-82).

If someone overstays their welcome in your office or is talking too long in a meeting, you can use some of these phrases to politely indicate it’s time to go or stop talking:

  • “I appreciate your coming in/contribution to the discussion.”
  • “It was nice talking to you.”
  • “You have given me a lot to think about.”
  • “Let me think about that a while and get to you.”

Valuable Quotes from First-Time Manager

  • “‘Praise in public, criticize in private.'” (p. 19)
  • “One of your main goals is to develop the trust and confidence of your employees, not only in their own abilities but in their opinion of you. They must have confidence that you are both competent and fair.” (p. 19)
  • “..the only time an item is completely confidential is when you tell no one.” (p. 242)
  • “Your attitude about errors will speak louder than the words you use.” (p. 19)
  • “By insisting on perfection, you may in fact defeat your own purposes. Some employees will become so self-conscious about making a mistake that they will slow their performance down to a crawl to make absolutely certain they don’t screw up. As a result, productivity goes way down and employees lose confidence.” (p. 21)
  • “You learn very little while you are talking, but you can learn a great deal while listening.” (p. 28)

New Words from The First-Time Manager

Adroit – clever or skillful in using the hands or mind.

Impetuousness – quality or fact of doing things suddenly without considering the results of your action.

Thanks for visiting and thanks to Jim McCormich, Gary S. Topchik, and Loren B. Belker for writing The First Time Manager!

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