December 28, 2022

《The Effective Manager》书摘

“For frontline manager”.

Introduction Who This Book Is for, What It’s about, and Why

Frankly, if you’re just a frontline manager, or maybe even a director, you don’t need to know a lot about that kind of “management” just yet. What you do need to know about is how to manage people.

This book is about managing people. It’s about getting the most out of your direct reports, for two reasons: because most managers are very bad at that part of their job, yet that’s the most valuable thing they do as a manager.

Part of the reason for that is that many of the professors have never managed a group of people with responsibility for their output. Also, people aren’t easily placed into neat conceptualized models that can be analyzed and measured. People are messy.

The Effective Manager will only concern itself with actionable guidance.

Do you understand? An audience doesn’t react to a speaker’s nervousness. They react to the behaviors that they see and hear that they ascribe to nerves. If Paul is nervous but doesn’t behave as if he is nervous, will his audience notice? Of course not. They’ll think he’s confident.

A Note about Data

For the past 25 years, we’ve been testing various managerial behaviors and tools to see which work and which don’t. I used to hate it when the manager training I received, or the books I read, basically were filled with someone’s opinions, or they proffered an idea and then used a few anecdotes to support the person’s position. We at Manager Tools like the aphorism, “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

A Note about Gender

All of our content at Manager Tools—all of the audio guidance in podcasts and all the “show notes”—use a nearly perfect balance of male and female examples. (If you’re a male, and it seems as if there are a lot of female examples, that says more about your biases than our examples.)

Chapter 1: What Is an Effective Manager?

…ask them, “How do you measure what a good manager is, or does?” If you don’t get a crisp answer (like the one I outline below), don’t take what they tell you very seriously.

Your First Responsibility as a Manager Is to Achieve Results

For many managers, this creates a problem. You probably can’t name your top five key results that you owe your organization this year.

…not having these kinds of goals frustrates or worries you, perhaps you think that everyone else has clear goals. But don’t worry. They probably don’t either.

There are always measures. If you don’t know what they are, they may be being used against you. Your boss is privately and subjectively evaluating you.

Your Second Responsibility as a Manager Is to Retain Your People

Replacing employees is expensive. When someone leaves, there’s the lost work that had been planned for, the cost of interviewing in both money and time, the likely higher salary that will be paid in the event of replacement, the time and expense of training the new employee, and the cost of less productivity by the new employee until that person can match the quality and quantity of work of the person who has left.

The Definition of an Effective Manager Is One Who Gets Results and Keeps Her People

If you want to be an effective manager and if you want to maximize your job security (and, I would argue, your professional satisfaction), you’ve got to achieve these two metrics.

Chapter 2: The Four Critical Behaviors

Get to Know Your People. Communicate about Performance. Ask for More. Push Work Down.

The First Critical Behavior: Get to Know Your People

…spend time getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of your direct reports.

Do you want your boss to “treat you like everyone else”? Then, maybe you don’t need to learn about your directs. However, I would guess that’s not what you want. If you’re a top performer, how would it feel to know that you were being managed just like your boss’s weakest team member? If you were a weak performer, would you want the extra assignments that the top performer received on top of normal duties? Probably not.

Every person on the earth expects and deserves to be treated as an individual.

The problem with this type of managing is that it only works (a little bit) with people a lot like you.

The problem with this is that it only works at the lowest levels and only for a little while. If you aspire to more, your Golden Rule is going to fail you.

What Are the First Names of All of the Children of the People Who Report Directly to You? If you’re like roughly 95 percent of the managers we ask this question, you don’t know all of their names. A fair portion—maybe 40 percent—don’t even know how many children all of their directs have! We call this, by the way, The Direct Relationship Acid Test.

But most people agree it’s a reasonable indicator—a fair proxy. Think about it from the perspective of your personal life: your close friends all know the names of all of your children. That’s part of what makes them close friends. Your friends who are not as close know some of your children. And your acquaintances probably don’t know whether you have children or not.

In our experience, you probably can’t. If you’re smart and you work hard, you can do okay, but you’re missing the biggest leverage of all: a trusting relationship with those whom you manage.

You walked over and asked, “Got a second?” and what did your direct almost definitely answer? “Sure!”

It’s very likely that whatever chit-chat you engage in with her—“How was your weekend?” “How’s your spouse?” “What’s the latest with the kids?”—is heard by them, to some extent, as blah-blah-blah-I’m-going-to-get-to-the-real-reason-I’m-here-in-just-a-minute-blah-blah-blah.

Further, you don’t realize the extent to which your chit-chat with them is driven by you, by your agenda, and by what you want. It’s unlikely that many of your directs, when you stop by to see them, will automatically feel comfortable talking to you about anything at all.

Just because you’re “chatting” doesn’t mean you’re building a relationship. What’s happening in your directs’ mind is probably closer to this: “I’m waiting for a task assignment.”

One of the best titles of a business book I’ve ever read is The Speed of Trust, written by Stephen M. R. Covey. If I trust my directs, I can spend less time telling them all the details about an assignment, checking their work, and asking for voluminous and frequent reports. Sure, I still have to check their work, and I still need to ask for the reports, but I spend a lot less time on both, and so do my directs. There’s more time for accomplishing work that leads to results. When I trust my boss, I spend less time worrying about what her intentions are and whether I have to cover my tail on all of my work. I don’t have to second-guess the “why” of a task or the delegation of it, or ask my colleagues for political support if I decide to push back on something. There’s more time for results.

The four behaviors don’t each account for 25 percent of the total value of the Four Effective Behaviors. Getting to know your directs accounts for 40 percent of the total value created by engaging in the four critical behaviors. That’s right: your relationship with your directs, based on all the work we have done and all the data we have collected, is by far the most important thing you can do to improve results and retention.

The Second Critical Behavior: Communicate about Performance

…data show that only giving negative input actually doesn’t work very well over time. Directs begin to resent their boss for focusing on the negatives, even if they’ve asked for it.

You want to see something done well—done expertly. At times, play at the highest level approaches beauty.

Highlight(yellow) - The Third Critical Behavior: Ask for More

…pay attention to when they start to lose effectiveness. Everyone has his or her own point of diminishing returns. The way you do that is to ask for more.

The Fourth Critical Behavior: Push Work Down

while the first three parts of the “Management Trinity” create value for the team, “pushing work down” creates capacity for the organization. Managers are the ones who have to push work down, but the organization is the one that benefits. Put differently, you can produce results from your team with only the first three parts of the “Management Trinity,” but pushing work down creates growth potential for your entire organization.

Suppose there’s a task that both you and one of your directs can do. You usually do it, but your directs—or at least one of them—COULD do the task. Maybe not as well as you, but close enough that the quality of the work would be acceptable.

…directs are less expensive labor. That’s not a rude statement—no insult is implied or should be inferred.

What this means for us managers is that we have to learn to share our work (that which we can share, which is probably most of it) with our directs. There’s an even more important (though admittedly organizational) reason why we need to learn to push work down, but we’ll discuss that in a later chapter.

Chapter 3: Teachable and Sustainable Tools

However you manage, your techniques, behavior, and philosophy must be both teachable to others and sustainable.

Maybe not everybody wants to be a manager, but if someone wants to or is willing to consider it, we ought not to discourage that person. There are all kinds of great managers who are reserved or even shy. Managing is about results and retention, not about smiling and knowing people.

I remember reading In Search of Excellence before I left the Army and being both thrilled at the insights and disappointed that the book didn’t tell me what to do or how to do it. Of course, the book wasn’t really meant for frontline managers. But I couldn’t find any books that were. So I read the book that everyone else was reading.

Managers actually liked the meetings somewhat, but the directs absolutely hated them. When we asked the directs why they didn’t like the meetings, most of the answers we received were variations on a theme: “Just another meeting with my boss.” “This isn’t a meeting for ‘us.’” “Just more work being assigned to me.”

He had basically said, “I’m kind of lazy, and I don’t want to prep for another meeting, so I’ll just let the directs go first rather than me.” All of his managers followed suit. The directs loved it.

Chapter 4: Know Your People—One On Ones


Why is scheduling so important? Directs whose managers have started O3s tell us two key things: (1) “My boss is saying I’m important,” and (2) “I have time to prepare.”

Your directs struggle to get time with you, much like you struggle to get time with your own boss. The reason you give your directs for them not being able to get your time is often because you’re in meetings all day, which, while regrettable, is true.

At some point, for most directs, in fact, a boss who (a) doesn’t have time for them and (b) says “you’re important” is a bit like all the firms who say, “Our people are our most important asset.” In many big firms, those kinds of tag lines become cynical jokes.

Directs know this, and they don’t assume that your stopping by randomly means it is an open forum to bring up ideas, issues, or concerns.

You may also be thinking, “I’m too busy.” This is a rational response to another meeting in your already busy day, but part of the reason your schedule is so full is because you’re not spending enough time communicating with your directs.

How is that possible? You’ll develop more trust with your directs. They’ll know more often what you expect, because they’ll be hearing it more regularly, so they won’t ask you as many questions. You won’t get interrupted as often for non-urgent issues. Your directs will wait to bring things to you that can wait. Have you ever noticed that a lot of the interruptions you get don’t seem worthy of the time it takes to resolve them?

The Manager Takes Notes

Career Tools, one of the casts is titled, A Notebook and a Pen [There’s A Cast For That™].

Where to Conduct One On Ones

If you’re having a quiet conversation, there’s usually enough ambient noise in most workplaces so that you can have a private conversation that will be masked by the ambient noise (e.g., the sound of keyboards, printers, and fax machines; people moving around; the hum of air conditioning; etc.).

Chapter 5: Common Questions and Resistance to One On Ones

The Most Common Forms of One-On-One Pushback

The problem today with the average manager-direct relationship is NOT one of too much management but of far too little. Management, reasonably practiced, in virtually every organization, provides necessary guidance, controls, and incentives far below a level that is intrusive or detrimental.

…talk about performance, answer questions, provide feedback, assign work, praise, provide coaching, talk about relationships, discuss development, develop relationships, inquire about the status of assigned tasks, expect status reporting, pay attention to work-family balance, plan, check the work of others, and reward.

Further, One On Ones can’t be micromanaging if you’re only asking for only 1 percent—1 percent!—of a direct’s time. Why is it 1 percent? Simple math: if your direct works 50 hours a week, one half-hour of that is 1/100th of their time each week, month, and year. The idea that 1/100th of a direct’s time cannot be spent in work-related meetings with his boss because it would be too intrusive is laughable.

Talking Too Much and Talking Too Little

For a long time I started my O3s with, “Your agenda—.” The reason was that, if I wasn’t careful, I would mention something, comment about something, or otherwise hijack the meeting with something that I wanted rather than letting my directs truly own their portion of the agenda. I did it to combat my own weakness.

…you’re going to have to respect that the person is different from you. Your directs have different joys and pains, different issues and successes at home, and different ways of thinking about their work than you do. If you never give those differences the opportunity to be voiced, you’re not really trying to create a relationship.

…listen. I’ll ask questions. I’ll take notes. If it’s important to my team member, it’s important to me. That’s how you build relationships.

Seventy-four percent of directs say that what they want to spend most of their time talking about in their One On Ones with their boss is work. And why not?

While 74 percent of directs say that what they most want to talk about is work, 89 percent of managers say they want to talk about work.

Lucky you; you get some time back in your day.

Because we heard about the lack of big-picture discussions and running short occasionally, we simply combined the two problems into one solution. The last 10 minutes on the agenda is a reminder to cover the future or big picture when you think the timing is reasonable and you run short.

Agenda fascism means you’ve just told your directs that you want to spend time with them and get to know them, you tell them the meeting is for them, and you share that the agenda is 10/10/10.

Can I Do One On Ones over the Phone?

We have several suggestions for how to do this. Start with Your Back Turned. Too many managers look out over where their directs sit when they are on the phone. Don’t do this. Turn your back on the world. Close your door. Don’t look around. Ignore Interruptions. No one is ever interrupted “by someone else.” Every interruption is caused by the person being interrupted, when that person stops what she’s doing.

Focus. Stop checking your e-mails. Stop looking at the stuff on your desk. Close your eyes, and visualize your direct speaking. Shut down your browser. Quit other programs.

Can I Be Friends with My Directs?

Here is my favorite “direct as friend” scenario. Your direct/friend asks to speak to you confidentially. (You can’t in good conscience offer that, but you do anyway.) She says, “I’ve stolen 10,000 dollars from the company. What should we do?”

One of the hallmarks of friendship is, in fact, an unstated understanding that the relationship confers the ability to share some things that normally would be closely held, or withheld from others.

Your directs think of you first as their boss. Those who don’t, we discover, are terribly difficult to manage.

Something else we’ve learned about drinking alcohol with directs: have only one drink with them. They’ll appreciate your willingness to not set yourself apart from them completely. When you turn the second one down, they’ll appreciate you more for setting an example and admitting you know you’re not one of them, completely.

If everyone in your company does it, do not assume that the whole world does it also.

I know it’s hard to hear that some friendships will have to become less important to you than your work responsibilities. We’ve felt that sting, and yet we’ve found over and over again that the best of friends totally respect it and understand it, and the relationship becomes better even as it becomes different.

Can I Do One On Ones as a Project Manager?

But we’ve been in hundreds of project review meetings ourselves, and the amount of professional, helpful candor that can appear in them, as opposed to blame shifting and defensiveness, is quite small. You can’t give feedback. There are too many empty moments during which everyone knows what’s going on but nobody wants to say it out loud. That’s not a problem in PMO3s.

That being said, we know how project launches can be. Senior people who aren’t delivering the project attend some of them. Project launch meetings are often much more about politics and image control, versus operational concerns.

Chapter 6: How to Start Doing One On Ones

Choose Times from Your Calendar

Avoid times right before and after staff meetings, or regular meetings with your boss. Don’t choose Monday morning, because meetings slow people down, and you don’t want to slow them down at the start of the week. Don’t choose Friday afternoon, because if your O3 gets stepped on, you won’t have time to reschedule.

Don’t choose times that work for you without any input. We’ve tested that. Directs won’t like the times you choose for them, even if their calendar is as open as the Texas plains.

Allow for Possible Changes in the Near Future

The fact is, all great planners echo General Eisenhower’s philosophy: planning is everything; plans are nothing. Things are going to change.

Chapter 7: Talk about Performance—Feedback

Particularly when you had to point out a mistake. You tried to talk to them about what had happened, but maybe they got upset, or you just didn’t have the right words, and so the meeting was awkward.

You can’t go around praising people doing their jobs, or they’ll get addicted to the praise.

They get defensive because managers talk to them about their mistakes—which happened in the past—about which the directs can do nothing.

Encourage Effective Future Behavior

We have found that, in more than three-fourths of situations (self-reported by managers), in which directs say no to the question, they seek the manager out within a few hours to find out what the feedback would have been. I’ve been told by many directs that their curiosity got the better of them. What better way to give feedback to a direct than when they come ask for it?

It really boils down to this: do you want to be the boss, or do you want your team to be more effective? (Assume you can’t have both.) We don’t ask only when we’re going to give negative feedback. We ask every time. If we only asked when we were going to give negative feedback, our directs would soon understand that this was a signal and would know what was coming next. For this reason, we also ask the same question every time.

The words you choose to say out loud to others are a choice, and different words produce different results. Your choice of words makes a difference in business results. Furthermore, certain words are known to produce distinctly better results in certain situations.

Meaning is determined 7 percent based on the words we use, 38 percent by tonal differences, and 55 percent by nonverbal cues (facial expressions and body language).

Step 2 of the model always begins with the words, When you. By starting your sentence with these words, you encourage yourself to focus on the direct’s behavior.

I find that when I start step 2 with “when you” it makes it easier to focus on their behavior and the impact, and for me to be simple, casual, and quick. It forces me to stay away from telling a story or giving some background.

Our guidance is to look for small impacts that happen every day. It’s easier to give feedback on them, and all those small changes will add up.

Beginning step 3 with “Here’s what happens” will help you remember

…you can also use “What can you do differently?” This is a more difficult question, because it requires the direct to come up with an alternative right away.

Here are some examples: “Could you change that?” “Can you do that differently?” “What can you do differently?” “How could that be better?”

When Should I Give Feedback?

…we take feedback for granted in virtually every aspect of our lives. We also take for granted that we’re going to get it fairly quickly. But for some reason we don’t seem to get that from our manager.

…the “when” of feedback is “as soon as is practicable”—but that’s not as easy to say as “immediately.” Even though it’s great to be able to give immediate feedback, truly “immediate” feedback is highly unlikely. Too often, there are others around; you don’t find out about the behavior until a day or two later; or you may tell yourself that you don’t have time to walk over and take 30 seconds to deliver the feedback.

Chapter 8: Common Questions and Resistance to Feedback

How Does It Sound?

Mike once told me, “I only give (negative) feedback when I can chuckle about it.” That’s a perfect attitude. He knows that if he can’t chuckle about it, there’s a chance he’s going to deliver it with some negativity, perhaps even with some judgment or mild anger.

If you can’t let it go in terms of how you feel, we recommend that you do let it go by not giving the negative feedback. We’ve found over and over again that managers who feel an urge to deliver feedback are doing it for the wrong reasons. We don’t want to confuse the need for delivering feedback quickly with an emotional urge to do so.

Basically, a shot across the bow says, “I can reach you, and I can hit you if I want to.” The analogy works this way: when your direct gets defensive, you needn’t do anything at all about it, because you have already fired a shot across their bow. They likely know they’re in the wrong, and they know you’re aware of what they did.

The Capstone: Systemic Feedback

Here is the fundamental difference. Standard feedback is about small behaviors. Systemic feedback addresses the moral hazard of a direct committing to new behavior but then failing to follow through. We can tolerate directs who make mistakes. We cannot tolerate directs who repeatedly make commitments they don’t keep.

You use systemic feedback before you think about considering organizational sanctions, like a performance improvement plan.

That’s perhaps not ideal, but it is reasonable after weeks and weeks of seeing no improvement. However, if we promise sanctions, we must deliver them when and how we say they are going to be delivered, if behavior change is not forthcoming. If we promise to freeze the direct’s salary for the next year, we had better freeze it.

Chapter 10: Ask for More—Coaching

There’s also a large number of organizations where coaching is really one name given to the “Performance Improvement Plan” that a failing employee is put on. The employee is not put on the plan to succeed but, rather, to allow the organization to gather objective data about the employee’s failure to perform to give them enough data to terminate employment without legal risk.

Manager Tools defines coaching as a systemic effort to improve the performance of a direct in a specific skill area. It’s neither episodic nor inherently negative.

Step 1: Collaborate to Set a Goal

DBQ: Deadline, Behavior, Quality.

Also, because we remember that coaching is a more powerful tool than feedback, we usually don’t set deadlines of less than four months away. If someone can change their behavior in less than four months, the person probably just needs a lot of feedback and we don’t need a coaching plan.

We’re not going to have a deadline during the holiday season, and, frankly, what’s wrong with thinking he might need more than four months, so let’s give him six months. It’s far better for us to overestimate and have Derek finish early than to have him be stressed out about a deadline that we would probably let slip a little bit anyway.

We want an event, a measurable, short time span during which we’re basically going to sample Derek’s behavior and measure it against a standard. Let’s try this: “By 1 March, you will go through an entire weekly operations meeting without making a single interruption.”

If they don’t work perfectly, we don’t care, as long as Derek makes progress that he wouldn’t have made had we not tried.

Step 2: Collaborate to Brainstorm Resources

It would be okay in a Manager Tools coaching engagement to have a task of reading a book which might be helpful but actually proved not to be helpful. You could say that time was “wasted” on reading that book, and in a way you’d be right. But to avoid doing anything that might be wrong, what most of us do is nothing at all.

This is a hard concept for most managers to grasp. We all seem to want silver bullets—quick and easy, one-shot, no-brainer solutions.

It is silly for us to assume we will know exactly how to improve someone else in some skill that we ourselves are not necessarily good at.

Step 3: Collaborate to Create a Plan

This is just respect for behavioral diversity.

…the vast majority of directs struggle with long deadlines. Lots of managers see it as a way to trust their directs, to not micromanage them. Even with those noble intentions, it doesn’t make any sense to do this when we know it doesn’t work.

And it’s not just that 30-day-long tasks are problematic. They’re the worst of offenders, but they’re not the only one. We’ve also found that, if we assign tasks of as long as a week and we check each week, urgent daily activities regularly take precedence, leading to coaching “projects” being behind by a week immediately, and then additional weeks as each new week passes.

Chapter 11: How to Start Coaching

It will be more fun to coach a top performer because you probably won’t feel that it’s a “must improve” situation the way you will feel as you start to coach some of your at-risk performers.

Chapter 12: Push Work Down—Delegation

He recognized early as a software development manager that his job had changed from solving technical problems to making others more effective so they could solve problems.

When he continued to get promoted, he realized that his job had changed again—from leveraging others’ technical skills to leveraging others’ people skills. And he found that if he hired or promoted the right people, he could trust them to take on more and more responsibility. And he delegated more and more responsibilities to them over time to help them grow.

You’re not delegating a task when it’s not a task you would normally do, and you’re simply assigning that task among members of your team. This is an example of task assignment. Delegation, on the other hand, is you turning over responsibility for one of your regular responsibilities—something you routinely do—on a permanent or long standing basis, to one of your directs. Task assignment is different from delegation.

Why Delegation Is the Solution—The Delegation Cascade

There’s no way you’re ever going to be 100 percent efficient. The in-between spaces represent our natural inefficiencies.

This is a new, permanent part of your job and responsibilities. Your boss used to do it, which means it matters.

You can’t work “smarter.” Over time, we all get smarter about our work, and we all can do more, but that isn’t the solution in this case. You can’t instantly get smart enough to be able to do the work required for the new ball, too. Nor can you suddenly/immediately get a lot better at doing the rest of your responsibilities (the rest of the balls).

One of your small balls is a big ball to your direct. The direct doesn’t know how to do the task, and the expectations are higher. It’s tough. They have to spend more time to get it done. And because it was something you used to do, by definition it’s going to be as important as any of the big balls they’re already working/spending time on.

Not at all. The individual contributor stops doing something (or, more specifically, and to stay with the math, five small things). We call this “delegating to the floor.” “Wait,” you say. “The individual contributor can’t just stop doing things.” Well, actually, she can.

Delegating has five steps. State your desire for help Tell them why you’re asking them Ask for specific acceptance Describe the task or project in detail Address deadline, quality, and reporting standards

You say, as an example, “You’re my best writer.” We’re not cozying up to Sarah here; we’re trying to help her understand our rationale for choosing her. We didn’t just pluck this assignment out of thin air. We want Sarah to know that we thought about it carefully and believe she is the right person for the job.

Look for four areas of your directs’ abilities to determine what to delegate to whom: what they’re good at, what they like to do, what they need to do, or what they want to do.

One reason we do this is that a direct who has already agreed (81 percent of them) is much more likely to listen to the details with an attitude of ownership and trying to solve the problem. If we wait to ask until they’ve heard all the details, they will often listen to all the details in a defensive way, worrying about workload and priorities.

In sales, this is what’s called an objection. Salespeople love objections, because the objections give them clues as to what the person’s concerns are. Their next line is, “If I can address your concerns, will you agree?”

This turns out to be the easy part of delegation. Walk the direct through what the responsibility is in detail. Explain to them what they’ll do at a reasonable level. Because this is something you yourself are doing now, you’re an expert on how it’s done. It typically starts with, “Here’s what I do…”

I let that draft sit overnight. Then I come back and polish it. Usually, I then send it over to my peer,

Chapter 13: Common Questions and Resistance to Delegation

What If a Direct Repeatedly Says No to Delegation Requests?

When you use the persuasion built on trust from your relationship power to get something done, you get what is known as “commitment energy.” The direct knows they can say no, and they choose to say yes. That ability to choose frees up that last full measure of work devotion that we want from them.


…professional love: the willingness to risk yourself for the benefit of another. It means doing something that may be a little more difficult for you, as a way of showing respect for your colleagues and your organization.

You can be demanding while also showing respect for your team. You don’t have to withhold positive feedback. You can give negative feedback with love in your heart. You can deliver tough messages with kindness. You don’t have to be mean, short, or disrespectful to challenge people. You don’t have to be brusque, or rude. You don’t have to “act like the boss.” Nor do you have to sugarcoat hard messages. Be direct, and be kind doing it. That takes love.

To those of you who put up with my rambling; to those of you who wrote to us asking that the podcasts be kept to 22 minutes because that was the length of your commute and your spouse didn’t like you sitting in the car in the driveway finishing a podcast after you got home;