Back in the day I was frequently asked, how can I become a better manager? I'd say, read Marcus Buckingham and Rosa Say. Do what they say. It's no more complicated than that. If the person really looked hungry I'd add Tom Peters and Peter Drucker to that short list.
Nowadays I only write about management and leadership as it pertains to youth career development...and I'm not talking for managers in this respective field, I'm talking about for youth. But I recently read a book where a lesson stopped me in my tracks. I had no option but to write about it.
The book is titled A Foot in The Door: Networking Your Way Into The Hidden Job Market by Kathy Hansen. At first glance this book appears to yield no lesson for managers. But I learned a technique a few years ago I call the Law of Inversion that has since opened my mind to allow lesson penetration from all sources. Here's an example using a book titled Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk. The most powerful case of implementing the Law of Inversion happened to me when I used the section on interviewing from Dick Bolles' book What Color is Your Parachute? years ago, to increase my managerial interviewing skills.
To be real, there is a macro lesson for managers in the whole of Kathy's book. While the book teaches people to network for jobs, the hungry manager simply has to substitute network for information, wisdom and knowledge of their particular field. The technique is identical and results will be similar. But that's not what I came here to talk about today.
You can become a better manager by knowing the answers to a list of one-hundred questions that Kathy provides to help the networker. Here's a few:
- What skills or personal characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in this industry?
- What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career should know?
- What do you do when you can't solve a problem on your own?
- What organizations are you expected to join?
- Is there a great deal of turnover in this job?
- How does your company differ from its competitors?
- What is the company's mission statement?
- What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
- What do you wish you'd known before you entered this field?
A good manager should know the answers to all of Kathy's questions stone cold.
A really good manager will allow these questions to lead her down rabbit holes of possibility. For instance, the turnover question. The sharp manager knows she has turnover. She probably even knows why. But perhaps she's been bogged down by upper management's focus on month-end numbers and has allowed implemented solutions to stagnate. Maybe it's time to refocus.
Now here's the best part on your journey through these questions. You know how biz gurus talk about how a business plan is fine and dandy, but the true value falls in the process of building the plan. To know the answers to these questions is essential, but the process of answering them will open up brand new horizons of opportunity.
Okay, that's the Cracker Jacks. Now here's the prize inside. If your company is too focused on month-end numbers and external minutia instead of customers who are satisfied by a well taken care of employee meaning YOU, use Kathy's book to help you find a company that cares.