For anyone newly promoted to a management position, the influx of expectations and responsibilities can seem daunting. In Common Sense Management, veteran management consultant Roger Fulton distills a career's worth of experience into basic principles, encouragement, and advice. Fulton speaks not only to managers, but also to supervisors and leaders, demonstrating how it's possible to succeed at any level in any industry, and that the same core values and practices apply. With practical sections such as "25 Common Mistakes Made by New Supervisors" and quotations from visionary leaders, from Confucius to Abraham Lincoln, this helpful guide offers motivation and support for anyone looking to succeed in a position of authority.
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Ten Speed Press
April 28, 2009
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Excerpt from Common Sense Management by Roger Fulton
Welcome! Thank you for selecting this book. I've designed it with your future success in mind. In it, you will find very practical tips on how to be a successful supervisor and manager. And once you master those two categories, you'll find tips on how to be a successful leader as well. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are some basic ideas and concepts you will need to embrace before we get started. This Is the Real World This book is about your success in the real business world and your involvement in it. No matter what industry you have chosen, profit/nonprofit, manufacturing, or service, this world is real. You are no longer in that safe school environment. In the business world, you are judged on your ability to get things done. Your successes and your failures are your grading system and the stakes are high. Success leads to promotions and higher pay and benefits. Failure sends you to the unemployment line, and you must start all over again with one strike against you. So if you value driving a good car, living in a nice place, and having the respect of all who work with you, you will want to pay attention to the ideas, tips, and rules presented in this book. Rules In general, if you want to be successful in your chosen industry, then you must follow the general rules of that industry. In most cases, those rules are common sense. If you work around gasoline, then don't smoke. If you work near deep water, you might want to invest in swimming lessons and a life jacket. If you work with people, you might want to learn how to get along with them. In this book, I'll give you rules, tips, and guidelines for being a successful supervisor, manager, and leader in any industry. It's all designed so that you don't accidentally blow yourself up, you don't drown in your efforts to succeed, and you learn how to get along with people. People Business is about people. They come in the form of customers, suppliers, coworkers, subordinates, and bosses. And how you interact with all of those people will determine your own success. Keep in mind that those people, at all levels, are the key to the success of any business. Without people, there is no business, and if there is no business, there is no work for you as a result. Throughout this book, please remember that people are the key to your success or failure as a supervisor, manager, or leader. Moving Forward Take a deep breath, contemplate your future briefly, and read on to get started on the road to the success of your own career. The future belongs to those who dare.--Anonymous Joining the Management Team Once you have proven yourself as a good and dedicated employee, you can expect to be promoted to a supervisory position. There you will not only be responsible for your own performance but also for the performance of other employees. That promotion will make you a part of the management team.This team consists of you, your boss, your boss's boss, and so on, up the organizational ladder. And you will all have one major goal: to get the job done correctly and on time, whatever that job is in your organization. In the following paragraphs, we will look at what each stage means and how you fit into the various categories of management responsibilities. The explanations relate directly to the three parts of this book.
Supervision: Overseeing the work of other people. That means making sure that they do their work and meet the goals and deadlines as expected.
Management: Bringing people and things together to be sure that the job gets done on time. It requires getting people, equipment, and parts to the right place at the right time so it all comes together as a final and complete package.
Leadership: Having the vision to look ahead and know where you and your unit are headed in the future and getting everyone on board to help you all get there. (Hint: to be a successful leader, you must also be a successful supervisor and manager.) Let's review the job skills required of supervisors, managers, and leaders and how they interact. The supervisor oversees the work of people. The manager brings people and things together. And the leader has the vision to put it all together and take the group where it needs to go. These three categories all interact and build on one another, regardless of the job title. Leaders can't get anything done without people--and that means motivated people with excellent supervision and management skills. And you can reverse it and say that supervisors and managers can't get anything done unless they have leaders to show them the way and give them the necessary equipment and resources to get the job done. So let's make it clear that you will need to learn all of the skills presented in this book to be a good supervisor, a good manager, and a good leader. Put them all together and you will succeed within your organization. It's all very simple once you know the rules to follow and the problems to avoid. And this book will help you to do just that. Best wishes for a long and successful career in your chosen industry, no matter how high up the ladder you choose to go. ---Roger Fulton Chapter 1Your introduction to supervision Once you have proven yourself as a reliable, dependable, and very capable worker, your employer will think that you are an excellent role model for others in the organization. Then he will want to promote you from basic worker to overseeing the work of some small group of other workers. In essence, you will become a supervisor of others and their work. That small promotion will come with a pay raise and added responsibilities. Supervising the work activities of other people can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. It can give you the opportunity to coordinate the activities of several people, or several groups of people, and to ultimately see the fruits of their efforts turn into a fully developed final product--one that no single person could produce alone. Don't Panic Dozens of ideas, proven concepts, and solutions are presented on the following pages. They are presented in a practical, concise, commonsense form so that you can start using them tomorrow to be the best supervisor that you can be. It should be noted, however, that this section does not tell you how to handle every situation. That would be impossible since every situation, every employee, and every supervisor is different. The key to successful supervision is your ability to handle the unique and unusual situations that will confront you throughout your career. The material contained in this book will give you guidelines for success, but it is you, and you alone, who must use this wisdom and your own common sense when handling each new and challenging situation. Can You Be a Successful Supervisor? The answer to that question is that most people can succeed as a supervisor. But just as with success in anything, it will require knowledge, training, experience, and a great deal of effort on your part. Other people can help you, but it is you who must put forth the effort to succeed. In addition to having the common sense to pick up this book, you already have completed several steps toward your success: 1. Your superiors already have faith in your abilities to be a supervisor since they have given you that title. 2. You probably already have a great deal of knowledge and experience in your own industry that can give you insight into future problems and solutions. 3. You already have a positive attitude toward your work and your company since you have put forth the effort to be successful in your career thus far. Given these assets, it should not be difficult for you to build on them and to reach true success as a supervisor of others. Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.--Henry David Thoreau Chapter 2You and your organization No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . .--John Donne Your Role as a Supervisor As a supervisor, you will be responsible for the activities and performance of others, not just for your own performance. Your job is now less defined with more gray areas. Your time will be at a premium. Initially you will feel that there are barely enough hours in the day to get everything done. You will tend to take the job home with you more--not just paperwork, but the problems of the day as well. You must learn to be a buffer between your own supervisors and your employees. Both sides have their own goals, desires, and needs. Your job is to keep them both reasonably happy and satisfied while keeping yourself happy and satisfied as well. Sound difficult? A little overwhelming? Relax. It's easier than you think, and it is well worth the effort. The executive exists to make sensible exceptions to general rules.--Elting E. Morison Executive Privileges Even if you are not a true executive, the quality of your life has substantially increased by becoming a supervisor. People will have more respect for you since you have advanced in your job. Your paycheck will go up considerably. You will probably be getting better fringe benefits: more insurance, longer vacations. You will be treated much better by upper-level management. You'll have better access to the boss and you'll be able to assist in policy-making deci-sions. Enjoy those benefits! You have earned them and you will continue to earn them every day. Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based upon excellence of performance.James Bryant Conant Getting Along with the Boss This is priority one! Your boss can make your life very difficult for you or very easy for you. Here are a few rules to follow: 1.
Don't take up too much of her time; just enough to get the information and guidance you need. 2.
Don't be afraid of the boss. The boss needs you as much as you need the boss. Remember that her job is to get things done through people--and you are one of those people. 3.
Keep in mind that all bosses are people and all people have quirks. Therefore, all bosses have quirks. Learn them and heed them. It'll be to your advantage. 4. Never embarrass the boss, intentionally or accidentally. If you can get along with the boss, you've gone a long way toward success as a supervisor. It has been well said that "he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander." --Aristotle The Informal Organization This--the informal employee power structure--is the underground! It is made up of regular workers who are respected by other workers for their experience, their knowledge, or their connections. They control the pipeline for the informal rumors and information among the employees. Handle this informal organization, or it will handle you. It can make you or break you, depending on what is said by you and about you. How do you handle it? By being fair and up front with all of your employees, with specific attention to the informal leaders. Just treat them right in their jobs and let them know what's going on--infor-mally, of course. Then they will spread the truth about you and the organization rather than circulat-ing false rumors and innuendos. If you're fair to all, you'll fare well. The first and great commandment is: Don't let them scare you.--Elmer Davis Morale Morale can be affected positively or negatively by an incident that seems insignificant to you, but which may be very important to your employees. A happy crew will do more and better work than an unhappy crew. Rumors and unfairness are the enemies of good morale. If there is unfair treatment of one employee, all the other employees will feel that they may be next in line for this unfair treatment. If you know what is going on in your department, you can straighten out misunderstandings or dispel false rumors before they adversely affect employee morale. A high level of employee morale is your ultimate goal. Following the principles set out in future pages will assist you in achieving this goal. Always keep in mind that subordinates of excellent leaders have excellent morale. Subordinates of poor leaders have poor morale. Abuse a man unjustly, and you will make friends for him.--Edgar Watson Howe Esprit de Corps Esprit de corps means the employees' pride in their work and in the organization. Outside recognition for excellent performance, whether from the media, other organizations, professional associations, or your own organization will lead to excellent esprit de corps. As a supervisor, you should seek out these types of awards for your people and strive for the excellence to obtain them. Let your people know you are seeking to obtain awards, not for you, but for them, because they deserve to be acknowledged. In the everyday environment, encourage employees to do their collective best to perform as a team--the best team--in the business. They will feel better about themselves and work better for you and the organization. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is nothing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.--William Jennings Bryan Internal Conflict Stay in your own domain. You will have enough to do with your own job. Don't try to meddle in another department's affairs unless your failure to take action will adversely affect your department's performance. Resolve interdepartmental conflicts with your equal in the other department. If you have given the other supervisor the opportunity to resolve it informally be-tween the two of you, and have met with unreason-able resistance, then you are justified in advising your superior and having him assist in resolving the problem. Carefully choose which battles you are willing to fight. Not all battles are worth the resulting bad feelings or long-term problems that will result, even if you win. However, some are. You get paid for your judgment. Use it wisely. Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.--William Shakespeare Competition from Peers This is related to what you just read. The organizational structure is a pyramid and it gets narrow at the top. When several good people (you and your peers) vie for the next highest level in the pyramid, there can be very stiff competition. Protect yourself at all times. Don't get pushed around, but don't look for trouble either. In the heat of the competition, don't be a back-stabber or an end-runner. Both of these will cost you dearly in the end. Your best overall strategy in the competition is to be loyal, mind your own business, and do your job to the best of your ability. You'll come out a true winner in the long haul. I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work.--Harry S. Truman This is the end of chapter two. See how easy it was to start learning your new role? Now that you have a good idea about the forces within your organization and their relationship to you, let's turn to what you should be doing as a first-rate supervisor. The secret of joy in your work is contained in one word--excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.--Pearl Buck