Management 101

management-101

Welcome to the first of Graphic Arts Magazine’s 101 series (the “non-print-related” column for the print professional)! The intent of this article is to provide you with some basic groundwork into proactive management techniques and offer you links to books and electronic resources to learn more for yourself.

“Management” is often defined as the process of dealing with or controlling things or people. As with any activity involving human interaction, there are variables involved that can make or break a successful manager. It is important to remember that employees seldom quit companies. Rather, employees quit their managers in the form of leaving the company.

Acting as an ethical and responsible manager is not rocket science, but cannot be overlooked. For example, a manager must do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it. This simple concept is important to building employee trust and leading by example. In addition, supporting your team’s ideas and recognizing your team’s successes is very important to maintain working momentum and employee engagement.

MBWA (management by walking around) is a technique employed to gather as much information as possible from employees in an informal manner to proactively combat potential issues. Speaking directly with employees enables unfiltered information to be shared that may not present itself in a more formal setting, like on a report. MBWA is a hands-on management style, but the key is to use it in an open and honest capacity and not as a way to micro-manage employees.

Whatever type of management style you choose to employ, there are no right or wrong methods. On the contrary, a manager may chose to make use a range of management styles in various environments, or dependent on the nature of the task. Therefore, the best tool in a manager’s tool kit is a willingness to adapt and be flexible to stay relevant to their team.

IN ACTION EXAMPLE

Sachin Agarwal worked for Apple Inc. as an engineer for six years and he has taken away some key lessons about the successful execution of Apple’s management techniques. These best practices draw a direct parallel to the success of the organization as a whole.

For one, Apple is almost completely managed by individuals with strong engineering backgrounds, which harbours respect between various levels in the organization. Small, close-knit projects, driven by long-term goals that push the current technological landscape, is another building block to Apple’s success. Lack of bureaucracy within projects and a mission to improve their own products and focus on their own goals (instead of trying to one-up their competition) is deeply ingrained in Apple’s culture. In addition, Agarwal suggests that his managers at Apple always challenged him with projects slightly above his skill level to encourage employee development.

Another very important policy employed at Apple is the emphasis and requirement of absolute deadlines. It’s not good enough to have innovative and quality products, but they also strive to live up to time commitments and are unwilling to waver on deadlines. Lastly, strong corporate culture, including generous holidays, healthcare and emphasis on work/life balance help keep employees motivated and committed to working hard for the company.

Apple Inc. is breaking the rules when it comes to managing its business and there is no denying its working for them. Thinking outside the box and simplifying business relationships can improve the efficiency of the entire management process.

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TOP 10 MANAGEMENT GOOD TO KNOW

1. Listen, listen, listen.

2. Continue to improve your craft by reading relevant materials, participating in seminars or taking classes to broaden your knowledge.

3. Encourage employees to question the status quo for continuous improvement.

4. Bring diverse groups within the organization together to discuss ideas and gain different perspectives.

5. Be honest with your team.

6. Never underestimate the power of recognizing a job well done.

7. Provide a pathway for open two-way communication for continuous feedback.

8. Admit your mistakes and take blame for your failures.

9. Be responsive to your team – answering emails and returning phone calls in a timely manner help lead by example.

10. Be genuine and, when appropriate, laugh at yourself.

management-101-booksBOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Marcus Buckingham (Author), Curt Coffman (Author)

This managerial tool discredits common management myths, tactics and beliefs. Written by management consultants, authors Buckingham and Coffman draw from over 80,000 interviews conducted by the Gallup Organization over 25 years. The outcome of years of primary research is a set of “four keys” to becoming an excellent manager: finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results and selecting staff for talent – not simply for knowledge and skills. This toolkit also contains techniques for helping employees perform better in their positions and lays the groundwork for performance-based evaluation.

4 ½ stars from 182 users on Amazon.ca

4 maple leaves out of 5 and 2 reviews on Chapters.Indigo.ca

Retail price $34.99 CND

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Jim Collins (Author)

Author Jim Collins and his team of researchers set out to uncover how and why some companies move from “good to great” and why others fall short. By profiling a selection of Fortune 500 companies that improved over time, Collins and his team narrowed the list down to 11 companies that rose to the top. He unveils that the common trait in all 11 companies, and the apparent key to success, lies in a corporate culture that attracts and promotes disciplined employees. Collins uses examples of his theories throughout the book.

4 ½ stars out of 5 from 309 users on Amazon.ca

4 maple leaves out of 5 and 11 reviews on Chapters.Indigo.ca

Retail price $32.99 CND

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management-101-entrepreneurONLINE RESOURCES

WEBSITE

www.entrepreneur.com

BLOG

http://www.entrepreneur.com/feeds/latest.html

I have yet to find a more comprehensive website or blog on the topic of business management. Entrepreneur.com (an extension of Entrepreneur Magazine) is full of useful articles, links, free advice from business professionals and a “community board” to facilitate connections with like-minded individuals.

The website expands beyond the scope of a management website and encompasses useful information regarding how to run a small business. The management section of the website links to useful articles and is a great jumping off point for managers to increase their understanding and gain perspective.

The blog associated with this website is a fantastic way for managers to receive topical and relevant daily news…all for free! This blog is updated several times daily and includes such articles as “14 Management Dos and Don’ts to Motivate Employees” and “Three Need-to-Know Technology Trends for 2011.” Organize this blog and others in a free web-based RSS feed reader like Google Reader or receive updates directly via your email in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007.

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.