I have read many business books and how to manuals over the years – some are good and some, well lets be charitable and just say that some are not so good. Fortunately however, The Daily Art of Management by Peg Thoms and James F. Fairbank is one of the good ones. There is a lot to like in this book and while it is somewhat trite at times and the examples aren’t always the best, the overall advise offered is suitable at all levels of the business and it is presented in a clear and informative manner.
Effective managers matter to an organization. After all, they translate strategy into action and motivate the people they lead. But managers are sometimes less than effective, ending up in positions of authority and responsibility due to technical competence, company growth, or serendipity. Unprepared, they often lack key skills. Or, like so many managers promoted due to stellar job performance, they may have trouble understanding and motivating other people. Managers thrust into roles of authority need grounding in the fundamentals of management. And that’s exactly what management experts Peg Thoms and Jim Fairbank deliver: The Daily Art of Management is the mentor at a manager’s shoulder, full of excellent advice and encouragement.
Most advice to managers consists of general prescriptions: Be inspiring, Drive innovation, or Beat the competition through crisp execution. Great, but how? It’s not easy doing any of these things. This book, which draws on the experience of Thoms and Fairbank as well as their research on management behavior, closes the gap between the idealized leader and reality—the gap between book learning and street smarts. It shows managers and aspiring leaders at all levels of the organization how to master ten key roles and practice them on a daily basis. Examples and practical guidelines reinforce the concepts and serve as a handy resource for anyone interested in the art and science of effective management. In this book, managers will learn how to:
- Set goals
- Create an ethical environment
- Create a vision
- Select and motivate followers
- Manage change
- Handle competitors . . . and other critical skills effective managers employ to get the job done with style.
The Daily Art of Management covers the issues managers face every day—but for which they are rarely trained.
- Chapter 1 Moving Statues - basically speaks to the way of motivating individuals by giving them a meaningful activity and purpose. The example given is the statues on which were moved after they had already been carved vs. moving them as simple stones which would probably have been simpler and easier with less overall damage. However, by moving them as completed objects let the islanders work with a goal in mind.
- Chapter 2 Creating an Organizational Vision - methods of developing and communicating a vision for small team and entire organizations are covered in this chapter. In addition the reason for a vision is also explored as well as the difference between a good and bad vision statement.
- Chapter 3 Setting Organizational, Departmental, and Individual Goals - will teach you how to develop and write organizational, departmental and individual goals. The difference between stretch (challenging) goals and non-challenging ones will be explored and they also cover the SMART goals concept. In addition to covering the concept of goal creation, emphasis is also placed on goal completion.
- Chapter 4 Creating and Modeling an Ethical Environment - deals with the ethical treatment of employees and customers. What does ethics really mean and how is it practiced throughout the company? Aside from the corporate ethics handbook, managers set the tone for socially responsible behavior and learning to model the desired behavior is critical.
- Chapter 5 Recruiting and Selecting the Best Employees – step by step plan for recruiting and hiring the right people. Details of structured interviews and the types of questions to ask (and not ask) given the situation and role.
- Chapter 6 Communicating Effectively – communication skills in your personal and professional life. At least half of the challenge of communicating effectively is knowing what to tell to whom. Saying too little is often just as damaging as saying too much and determining where that line is is an absolute essential skill that needs to be acquired.
- Chapter 7 Understanding and Motivating Employees – how to motivate your subordinates. Some specific strategies and techniques are covered in this chapter and most can be easily and quickly implemented in your work environment without a significant amount of time or effort. Doing so will pay dividends far greater than the initial investment and makes this one of the key chapters and processes in the book. Also covered in this chapter is the performance appraisal process (covered in greater detail here) and the amount of detail to share or hide in the process.
- Chapter 8 Introducing and Implementing Change - organizational change and change management is the main focus for this chapter and getting the buy in from your team is a key step in ensuring that your team is a high performing one. Dealing with resistance to change and the development of change plans depending on the size and scope of the change being introduced.
- Chapter 9 Understanding and Dealing with Competitors - what to measure and how. How to learn from your competitor’s successes and failures. How to monitor their strategies and how to continue to improve and stay ahead of them.
- Chapter 10 Public Relations for Managers – dealing with public perception and the end user when dealing with emergencies and other similar situations. The example given here is perhaps a bit out of date if you take into account the BP Oil Spill and its reaction and action to that, however it is still a very interesting case point with regards to the right and wrong way of dealing with a crisis.
- Chapter 11 Community Leadership – making an impact at work is all well and good, but it should be possible for you to translate that into your local community also and this chapter tells you why you should do it and how you should go about doing it.
- Chapter 12 Bringing it All Together through Teamwork – how to use some of the strategies explored in previous chapters and building that all important “effective” team.
At just shy of 170 pages, this is not a large book. However it is well written and the acronyms if used are explained properly and kept to a minimum so that not only experienced managers but also those just starting out in the field can get a good overall grasp of the concepts presented. If you are now a manager or are looking to get into management in the future, this is a good book and one that I would recommend.