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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

Jun 27, 2017

Don't mix operational and non-operational tasks
Given the technically sounding title of this column, I thought it would be best to begin by explaining my definition of operational and non-operations tasks. Then, once defined, explain why you don't want to mix them.

Operational tasks are the mission critical activities and department processes that, by definition, take precedence over all other department activities. In Information Technology (IT) groups it's running the daily and nightly production. In Finance groups it's opening and clos
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Jun 20, 2017

Have an authentic management style
An enormous amount has been written regarding management styles, best practices, techniques, and theories. I applaud the authors, social scientists, academics, and business leaders whom have put their thoughts into print and have greatly forwarded the occupation of professional management. In fact, I have read many of their books and their collective thought has made me a better manager.

My first suggestion to you is to become a voracious reader and learn as much as you can from these thought
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Jun 13, 2017

Multi-tasking can be your friend
As a manager, it often seems that you are required do many things at once just to survive, let alone to succeed. If this is you, there are a number of easy multi-tasking techniques you can use to help you maximize your productivity.

  1. Delegate parts of tasks: One of the great things about being a manager is that you have the authority to delegate tasks to those who work for you. If used correctly, delegation can be used to let your staff help you multitask. For example, if your a (Full Text . . .)
     

Jun 6, 2017

4 ways to make work feel more like play
Who said that work can't be a little bit of fun? After all, we spend forty or more hours a week earning our weekly wage. I'm not suggesting that we don't work hard or that no matter how hard we try it will all be fun. I'm just saying that, if we have to be there anyway, we might as well try to enjoy ourselves. Additionally, as managers, we should try to make work fun, or at least as pleasant as possible, for those who work for us.

The previous paragraph may be a bit of a tongue twister and a
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May 30, 2017

The importance of process measurement
There is an old IBM advertisement. I don't remember the exact year, but I believe it was about fifteen years ago. The premise of the advertisement was that a person runs into his boss's office all excited that he saved the company a nickel (it may have been a dime, I don't exactly remember). His boss then says 'Big deal, so what if you saved the company five cents.' The employee then answers back by saying 'You don't understand, I just saved a nickel a transaction on five thousand transactio (Full Text . . .)
 

May 23, 2017

Get a quick win and then move forward
Consider the following questions.
  1. Have you ever taken on a big new project and not known exactly where to begin?
  2. Have you ever been asked by your boss the equivalent of what have you done for me lately?
  3. Have you ever taken a new job and wanted to start off on the right foot?
  4. Have you ever been negotiating a contract with a new vendor, potential employee, or client and can't seem to make any progress?

If so, the solution to all of these questions may be the same answer.
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May 16, 2017

Exercise can help improve your team's productivity
Did you know that certain types of exercise counteract the effects of poor posture endemic to people who work at desk jobs? Did you know that there are stretches you can do at your desk that can help improve your health? Did you know that exercise helps delay cognitive decline and hence, can help maximize the productivity of middle age and older workers? Well, I didn't either until I spoke with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan, an occupational therapist and personal trainer.

It's been well documented that
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May 9, 2017

Use social media as a management tool
As mangers, we are always looking for low cost ways to hire new employees, find quality consultants, and other standard management related tasks. Social media tools are the gentle giant that can help you achieve these tasks on a shoestring budget.

The first step toward being able to benefit by social media in this way is to begin using it. By using social media, I don't mean connecting to your family and friends on Facebook, even though that may, in fact, have some business value. I'm refe
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May 2, 2017

6 Ways to use job shadowing as a training technique
By its name, job shadowing may, at first glance, sound mysterious or secretive. Well, sorry, it's not. Job shadowing is the process of observing someone in the workplace with the specific goal of trying to understand what they do. Classically, job shadowing is used by students as a way of learning about a profession they are considering studying in school and potentially pursuing as their future livelihood. Take note, that this technique also can be used extremely effectively within the work (Full Text . . .)
 

Apr 25, 2017

Be the Manager and Chief Problem Solver
If companies had no business problems and every employee knew exactly what to do without instruction, then companies wouldn't need managers. Yes, that's right, they wouldn't need us. That said, next time your department has a problem that you must address or an employee needs your assistance, smile inside, from ear to ear, and know that your company needs you.

We all know that managers perform other department functions, such as defining department vision, defining and overseeing department p
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Apr 18, 2017

Beware of too many moving parts
In this week's blog I would like to tell you two stories dealing with managers who, as you may expect from the title, had too many things moving at once.

Story #1:
I was working with a small organization that was trying to replace its VP of Finance and its Head Bookkeeper at the same time. This may have sounded like a good thing at the time, but it caused the organization major problems. The reason was that the CEO underestimated the complexity of the accounting processes that were be
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Apr 11, 2017

Managing multi-taskers and single-taskers
Both types of people are enormously important and productive and I have no preference or bias toward either work type. In fact, I find myself to be continually vacillating from one to the other. I have days when I find myself jumping from task to task, seemingly working on many things at once. There are also times when I get in the zone working on a single task and can't seem to stop until that task is complete. Because I personally seem to vacillate between multi-tasking and single-tasking; (Full Text . . .)
 

Apr 4, 2017

7 Tips on running virtual meetings
As time moves forward, it seems that more and more companies are creating multi-location workgroups and allowing people to work from home. As a result, new and experienced managers alike are having to learn to run meetings via speakerships, Skype sessions, and other distance shrinking communication tools. It may sound easy, but running an effective virtual meeting is much harder than it seems because you have the following things going against you:

Mar 28, 2017

What kind of manager do you want to be?
An enormous amount of research, analysis, commentary, and advice has been written on the advantages and disadvantages of different management styles. My question for you here is not an academic exercise of which style works best in which specific circumstances. Rather, my question for you is what kind of manager do you want to be? That is to say, what style works for you personally? The reason I'm asking you this question is because at the end of day, we are not just managers, we're people. (Full Text . . .)
 

Mar 21, 2017

Do you really listen to your staff?
The title of this column may sound like an odd question to ask, but if you read the job description of most management-oriented jobs, they generally talk about providing vision, building processes, overseeing activities, delegating work assignments, motivating the team, and other similar activities. That said, these same job descriptions don't generally discuss understanding your team member's needs, helping your staff move toward their long term career goals, and really understand your team's n (Full Text . . .)
 

Mar 14, 2017

Coaching vs. Mentoring
As a manager, it's important to know the difference between coaching and mentoring from two perspectives. First, is how coaches and mentors can help your staff in the performance of their jobs and as part of their career development. Second, is how coaches and mentors can help you in your current job and career development.

Let's begin by talking about the difference between coaching and mentoring, and then talk about the difference between your staff and you.

From my perspective, the best w
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Mar 7, 2017

What is your department's primary objective?
The title of this column may seem like a simple question, but the answer has major ramifications on your department's goals, activities, priorities, and organizational structure. This is best explained in a quote by General and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower 'We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.'

From a management perspective, this means, at least from my perspect
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Feb 28, 2017

Read management books and learn
It's truly amazing how many great management books have been written. These books are on every conceivable management and leadership topic, from delegation to managing up, from motivation to innovation, from tactical planning to strategic thinking, and so on.

As a manager, at any organizational level, from a first time supervisor to the CEO's seat, being well read can greatly enhance your effectiveness and help facilitate your professional success.

The goal of this column is not to impart the
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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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