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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

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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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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