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Manager Mechanics Blog, Written by Eric P. Bloom
 
This blog is a combination of Eric's ITworld blogs, Gatehouse Media columns, Techwell postes and original works
 
Archive of previous months

Feb 21, 2017

10 Tips on running a successful staff meeting
Staff meetings are like dentist appointments. We know they're good for us, but about five minutes before the meeting you can think of about a thousand different things you would rather be doing.

That said, don't underestimate the importance of staff meetings and the very positive effect they can have on the organization. These effects include improved department communication, psychological team building, and improved group productivity. From a communication perspective, staff meetings enhance
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Feb 14, 2017

5 Steps to help newly hired employees succeed
Congratulations! You got permission to hire a new person into your group, worked hard to hire the best possible person, and he/she agreed to take the job. Now what?

When a new person is hired into your group, you're job as the manager has just begun. Remember, if you made the decision to hire this person, his/her success or failure at the company is an illustration of your decision-making ability and your competency as a manager. That said, it's in your best interest to help assure the succes
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Feb 7, 2017

14 ways Google and YouTube can have tremendous value to a manager
Wow, if you are a manager and love to surf the net, this week's column is for you. It can help you legitimize your wish to be on the internet during work time. This, of course, also assumes that you are doing it for the right reasons and taking my advice.

As a manager both Google and YouTube can be a great source of information, research, and inspiration. Let's start with Google, or the other search engine of your choice. Google can be used to:
  1. Find summaries of great management book (Full Text . . .)
     

Jan 31, 2017

Manager Bench Strength explained, and why you should care
For those not familiar with the expression 'Bench Strength', it is generally thought of as a sport-related term. It refers to the quality and ability of the replacement athletes you have sitting on the bench that can take the place of your star athletes if/when they get tired or hurt. On a personal note, I have a deep understanding of bench strength. As a kid of marginal athletic ability, I have a fair amount of experience sitting on the bench.

From a business perspective, the Management Stre
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Jan 24, 2017

A fish rots from the head down
I would like to begin this week's column simply by saying that if you are a manager, to your team, you are the head of the fish.

Giving credit where it's due, the expression 'A fish rots from the head down' is an old proverb of unknown origin, but claimed by various countries and cultures. Also, my limited research into the biological accuracy of the expression leads me to believe that it's the fish's inner organs, rather than its head, that actually rot first. All that said, this is neither
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Jan 17, 2017

Importance of hiring the right people
Upon occasion, I've written columns related to hiring new employees. These column titles have included:
  • Getting Permission to hire
  • Reviewing Resumes
  • Deciding which person to hire
  • Interviewing Job Candidates
  • Hire people that love their work

In this week's column, I would like to discuss hiring from a different perspective, namely, the importance of hiring the right people. By the right people, I don't necessarily mean hiring the person who is the smartest, the most
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Jan 10, 2017

10 Things your department can do during slower work times
Wow, in today's economy and business environment this may seem like a very strange time to be writing about what to do when your group has extra time on their hands. In many cases, staff reductions over the last few years have left companies lean to the point of very often being understaffed to perform needed tasks.

With that said, then why am I writing this column now? The answer is that many jobs have work cycles. Accountants tend to be busiest at the beginning of each month, when trying t
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Jan 3, 2017

You don't need all the answers, just the right questions
When I first became a manager, I thought I needed to know all of the answers to all of the issues in my department. You know what, I was wrong. I quickly learned that management was more about asking questions, communicating, making decisions, management process, and leadership. In this week's column, as the column name alludes, I would like to specifically discuss asking questions, and its first cousin, listening.

Let's begin with the old saying that 'God gave us one mouth and two ears, ther
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Nov 21, 2016

Learn management by talking to strangers
When I was little my mother told me it was dangerous to talk to strangers. When you are a small child, this is great advice that will help keep you safe and out of harm's way. As an adult, however, not talking to strangers can dramatically
  • Reduce your ability to network professional
  • Minimize the chance of finding new potential opportunities
  • Lessen your chances of expanding your professional contacts
  • Decrease the likelihood of widening your professional horizons though chan (Full Text . . .)
     

Nov 14, 2016

Learn to Make Decisions Through Other People's Expertise
As you move up the organizational ladder (get promoted), regardless of your chosen profession, you will eventually be managing business functions that are performing tasks that you have no personal ability to complete. Additionally, because these departments are within your responsibility, you will be required to make high level decisions and approvals regarding their funding, business direction, staffing, and organization. As a result, the sooner that you learn how to make decisions based on t (Full Text . . .)
 

Nov 7, 2016

Beware of Organizational Shift
It's a story that is often told. You love your job. You love your boss. You love the company and all is well with the world. Then, something changed that upsets your universe. It may happen all at once or it may happen slowly over time. In either case, however, you wake up one day and say to yourself, 'Wow, I'm no longer happy with my job.'

Organizational Shift are the changes that happen over time to all organizations that modifies its culture, values, environment, and/or general atmosphe
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Oct 31, 2016

10 Ways Moving Laterally Can Get You Promoted
When people in management roles think about moving ahead in their career, they generally aspire to having their boss's job. The trick is figuring out how to get there. Sometimes, if you are lucky or because you have positioned yourself effectively, you are the heir-apparent for your boss's job because of your:
  • Professional stature
  • Time in job
  • Ability as compared to your peers
  • Your role as alpha-peer and are looked up to by your peers
  • Relationship with a senior executive (Full Text . . .)
     

Oct 24, 2016

Management Gone Wrong: 10 Ways To Fix Your Mistakes
Ok, you blew it. Now what?

As an individual contributor you thought being a manager was easy. Now that you have been in the role for a while you realized, like most things in life, it's a lot harder than you thought. That said, looking back at your time as a manager, you have done a pretty good job managing your team, working with other managers on cross-department initiatives, making your project deadlines, and getting the resources that your team needed to be successful. Then WHAM, you made
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Oct 17, 2016

Power of Immediate Action
You see one of the people who is working for you bullying another employee. You observe a person working for you selling illegal drugs to a fellow employee in the restroom. One of your employees starts swearing at a customer on the telephone. Other than the obvious that they are all bad things, what else do they have in common? The answer is that as a manager, you must deal with these situations immediately. If you don't, the following bad things may happen.

Oct 10, 2016

10 Great Negotiation Tips for Managers
As managers, we are continually negotiating with those we work with. These people include our staff, peers, customers, internal departments providing us with value, internal customers that we support, and many others. Outside the workplace, we are also continually negotiating with our spouses, kids, parents, friends, car dealers, vendors, and others.

This dual usage of negotiation skills, namely work and home, makes learning how to negotiate a double win. You can use these learning skills at
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Oct 3, 2016

The Power of Ethics
Yes, we all know that we should all do the right thing because it's right. But let's get down to business. As managers, there is real professional power and payback in taking the high road. If people respect you, trust you and believe in you, then they will, in most cases, help do your bidding.
  • Your manager will help you be successful in your current role and maybe even help you get promoted to your next role.
  • Your staff will work hard for you, because they know you are working hard (Full Text . . .)
     

Sep 26, 2016

What Marathon Running Taught Me About Being a Manager
With last week's Boston Marathon still fresh in the minds of runners and sports enthusiasts everywhere, I thought it would be a good week to compare the discipline and rigor of marathon running with the steadfastness and level of effort needed to be great manager.

Let's first consider what's required to properly train to run a marathon. You must:
  1. Make the decision that you would one day like to run a marathon (we'll call this long term vision)
  2. You must have a personal fortitude to s (Full Text . . .)
     

Sep 19, 2016

7 Ways to Treat Your Team Like They Are Smart
As a manager, it's easy for you to overpower the members of your staff. After all, you're the manager; so generally speaking, they have to do what you tell them. As a result, there is the real potential that as a manager you can stifle innovation, perpetuate inefficiencies, and slow the growth of your staff members.

All that said, why do so many managers do this to groups? Well, there are many reasons, including:

Sep 12, 2016

Your Department's Balanced Scorecard
Answer the following questions quickly:

  • What are your department's top 10 key success factors?
  • How do you measure these factors?
  • How do you report these measurements to your manager and others?

The reason I wanted you to answer these questions quickly is because as a manager it's essential to have your finger on the pulse of those items that make your team successful.

Truth be told, as managers we seem to always be busy with the work at hand, including going to meetings,
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Sep 5, 2016

Do an annual goals reset
In business, a year is very long time. The economy can shift for better or worse, companies can merge, corporate business units can be bought and sold, senior company leadership can come and go, and projects can start and then surprisingly be canceled.

Under that backdrop, many companies include goal setting for the year ahead as part of their annual employee performance review process. These types of annual goals have various names, including:

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