Manager Tools: The Best Management Advice I Ever Received

Below is an article written by Jeremy Triplett, one of our listeners, and published in the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ACSLD) Executive Education Digest.  Jeremy agreed to allow us to share the article with you.  Many thanks, Jeremy!

 

Manager Tools: The Best Management Advice I Ever Received

Jeremy Triplett Forensic Laboratory Supervisor, Kentucky State Police

Chair, ASCLD Training and Education Committee

I was not aware at the time, but the best piece of management advice I ever received was while checking out at my local Pier 1 store. At the time, I had just been promoted from bench-level drug chemist to the supervisor of the drug chemistry section at my lab. I was in the throws of a familiar forensic management dilemma: “I have a degree in Chemistry and a Masters in Pharmacy. Now I’m in management. What in the world do I do now?” My wife was working at Pier 1 at the time and on this day I had stopped by the store to pay for the new rug that, in her words, we just “had to have.” As I was paying for the rug at the register, my wife remarked to her district manager, who happened to be visiting the store that day, that I had just been promoted to supervisor at my job. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Congrats. You need to listen to Manager Tools. Seriously, you should start today.” He seemed so convinced that I figured he must know what he was talking about. So I did listen – and never have I been so glad that I stopped somewhere and bought a rug. What I found in Manager Tools was an incredible source of easy-to-understand, immediately actionable management training and tips, all neatly packaged into a weekly podcast hosted by two successful managers who truly know what they’re talking about. Looking back, today, I firmly believe that 5-second piece of advice changed the trajectory of my management career. If you’ll give me a few minutes of your time to read this article, I think it just might change yours, too.

So what is Manager Tools? In the largest sense, it’s a management consulting and training firm owned by Michael Auzenne and Mark Horstman that delivers free weekly podcasts with management and career tools and tips, premium content for purchase on their website, and training conferences all across the globe. In this article, however, I would like to tell you about “Manager Tools” their free, weekly podcast on management.

Manager Tools, the podcast, is focused on how you can become a more effective manager and leader. Mark and Mike discuss nearly every management topic that you can imagine – from big ideas like “Delivering the Performance Review” and “Develop a Sense of Urgency in Your Team” to very focused, detail-type ideas like “How to Write a Thank You Note.” If you have a particular management issue that you wish you had some guidance on, you can bet Manager Tools has covered it. The best part of Manager Tools, however, is not the breadth of content they deliver, but the quality. Mike and Mark are expert communicators and teachers and you can tell that every podcast is carefully planned to deliver maximum value. Many times, Mark will literally check off a list of actionable items from the podcast. You will finish the podcast with a list of concrete, actionable steps to improve your management skills or implement their suggestions into your management role. Additionally, in many instances the Manager Tools team will even provide their own templates, forms, and documents for the listener to use, such as their annual review preparation forms, sample meeting agendas, and one-on-one meeting note sheets. There are so many Manager Tools podcasts available that it’s actually somewhat daunting to decide where to begin. Luckily, they’ve covered that as well. “Manager Tools Basics” is a series of podcasts that cover their core management philosophies, which they call the Manager Tools Trinity (this trinity, oddly enough, has 4 components). The Manager Tools Trinity is composed of: weekly one-on-one meetings, the Manager Tools Feedback Model, the Manager Tools Coaching Model, and finally, Delegation.

 

The Manager Tools Core Management Philosophy (The MT Trinity) – Summarized

One-on-Ones

One-on-Ones (also called O3’s) are weekly meetings between you and each of your directs that are consistently scheduled on your calendar and rarely, if ever, missed. They are 30 minutes long, and time is divided into 3 separate 10-minute segments. The first 10 minutes is completely the direct’s agenda. You both talk on anything the direct wants to talk about: their family, their work, their career, their hobbies, anything. The second 10 minutes is the manager’s agenda. You talk about projects, things you both are working on, information to pass along from above you in the organization. The last 10 minutes are to talk about the direct’s future: training, development, career opportunities, etc. The primary thing to remember in the one-on-ones is that the focus is the relationship between the boss and the direct, and not necessarily work-related task discussions. Manager Tools regards one-on-ones as the single most powerful thing that a manager can do to improve their relationship with their direct reports.

The Feedback Model

The MT Feedback Model is a simple, direct, and effective method to deliver feedback to direct reports. Feedback is given often, for both positive and negative behaviors, and is always based on observed behavior and not your perception of the motivation behind the behavior or the direct’s “attitude” (you cannot see attitude). Feedback is about guiding future behavior. The Manager Tools Feedback Model gives you an effective and easy method to deliver it.

The Coaching Model

Coaching is a collaborative effort between a boss and a direct designed to provide value to the company while encouraging and equipping an employee to improve on a specific skill at the same time. The goal is to improve the productivity of your team by coaching higher performance from each of its members. The Manager Tools Coaching Model provides a step-by-step approach to facilitate your employees’ development that is easy to understand and implement.

Delegation

The (ironic) 4th part of the Manager Tools Trinity is Delegation. Delegation is a key component to successful management, and many, many managers agree that they stink at it (it’s certainly a weakness of mine). Delegation is a topic covered in many books, seminars, and management trainings – and, of course, it’s covered by Manager Tools, as well. Manager Tools provides a great model for how to decide what to delegate, how to choose and speak with the direct that you are delegating to, and how to follow up. In typically Manager Tools style, they even provide their Delegation Worksheet, a step-by-step action plan on how to delegate items to your directs.

In addition to the core management fundamentals presented in the “Manager Tools Basics” series, they also offer casts on how to implement and rollout the Manager Tools Trinity fundamentals in your management situation. There are step-by-step action plans that show you how to start from the very beginning with one-on-one’s and eventually have all 4 pieces in place. Beyond the Basics series, of course, they also cover numerous other topics (in more than 7 years of producing podcasts, the Mark and Mike have recorded well over 400 shows) and anyone interested in a particular topic can simply look on their website and use the dropdown menu feature to find a list of podcasts sorted by topic.

It is my sincere hope that you will give the Manager Tools podcast a listen and that you would find it to be as helpful and as informative as I have. I would certainly also love to hear your thoughts on which Manager Tools podcasts you find most helpful. In closing, I’d like to pass along to you the best piece of management advice that I ever received. Wherever you are in your management career, however far you’ve come – “Congrats. You need to listen to Manager Tools. Seriously, you should start today.”

Reprinted with permission from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD) Executive Education Digest, 2013, Vol 2, p. 29-32

Questions or comments can be directed to the author at: jeremy.triplett@ky.gov

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