Category Archives: Manager skills

Should I be Working While Sick?

Should I be working while sick?  The answer ideally is no.  If I am sick, I should go home and rest.  Come back when I feel better.  The real world however is not that simple, especially when we are talking about everyday illnesses, such as a cold or a flu. Every time I feel unwell, I debate whether to…

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3 Leadership Lessons from KungFu Panda 3

This weekend, our family went to see KungFu Panda 3 and loved it.   It was both entertaining for the kids and educational for us all.   I was amazed at how well the story line conveyed some fundamental leadership lessons while being utterly adorable at the same time.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly…

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4 Soft Skills Every Manager Needs

Managers with stronger skills in multiple areas have greater chances of becoming successful. As a manager, you need both hard skills (e.g. business or project management) and soft skills (e.g. leadership skills) to be effective.  I would argue soft skills are more important than hard skills as you get more senior in your career.  If you…

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5 Tips to Improve Teamwork in the Workplace

Good teamwork calls for creating conditions that encourage everyone in the team to share their ideas, feel empowered, and perform in a collaborative and coordinated manner. As a team leader, you are responsible to develop people’s strengths, build good relationships with people, and set meaningful team goals to facilitate it. If you are a team…

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How to Manage Millennials on Your Team

It’s my distinct pleasure to introduce our first Executive Author, Kate Lin (pen name).  Kate has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, and over 20 years of work experience.  In the last 2 years, she has had extensive experience managing Millennials (aka recent college graduates) in her operations team.  Here are her insights and…

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Let Your Team Take Care of the Monkeys

What is all this talk about Monkeys you may ask?  Well, the article is inspired by one of the most famous management articles written in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) back in 1974 called Management Time – Who’s Got the Monkey? I think this is a must read for anyone who wants to succeed in…

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Five Behaviors to Avoid as a Manager

We often hear about the skills we should develop when we transition from team member to manager. What we seldom hear is that we need to UNLEARN some behaviors in order to transition into effective managers. Some of the things that made us excel as a team member can be the kiss of death to…

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Transition to Managing People is a Roller Coaster Ride

If you want to advance in your career, advancement to people management is an important milestone to achieve.  It takes 5-10 years to get promoted to manager.  That’s like the initial climb into a Roller Coaster ride.  The top looks wonderful and it’s thrilling to keep climbing up and up the team member ladder until eventually you reach…

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How to Become a Rock Star Manager – 7 Steps

Being a “Rock Star” Manager means You achieve steller results through inspiring / leading your team You are respected and appreciated by your superiors and your team Ultimately, You will be on the fast track for promotion and senior management Becoming a “Rock Star” manager doesn’t happen over night.  It takes time and practice, but it’s…

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Giving Constructive Feedback – 10 Tips

How to give constructive feedback is a great question to ask and an important soft skill to develop especially if you are now managing a team.  The abiliity for coach and mentor  well each of your team members is essentially to your and your team’s success.  To be a great team leader, you need to…

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#3 Most Common Mistake People Make at Work

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Don’t assume, because it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.'” While it seems tongue and cheek, it’s very good advice. It’s amazing how we can understand this concept in theory, yet still make unwarranted assumptions at work. I think this happens mostly because we don’t even realize…

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Effective Team Management – 4 Tips to Raise Morale

Effective team management is essential to your career acceleration and success.  Managing a diverse team of workers is likely to be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do in your career.  As a manager, you must constantly work on developing your leadership qualities that will motivate your team members to Be the best…

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What Makes a Good Manager – 7 Qualities

What makes a good manager?  This is an excellent question to ask as you are getting promoted to manage others or have already been managing for awhile.  There are many managers out there but few are good ones.   The goal of a good manager is to achieve stellar results (results you cannot achieve alone) through inspiring, leading, and developing your team.

Developing skills to become a good people manager is not easy.  Just because you were a good team member does not automatically make you a good manager.  The good news is you can learn and develop your manager skills over time.  The fact you are reading this post means you are aware you need to know what makes a good manager before you can develop skills to become one.     Based on 8 years of experience in managing people, I recommend 7 qualities of what makes a good manager.

  1. Have confidence and provide clear direction – One of my favorite quote at work is “Vision without action is a daydream.  Action without vision is a nightmare”  This first manager quality speaks to the latter part of this quote.  You will lead the team in a set of efforts.  It’s important to set and communicate clear direction to your team on what needs to be accomplished and how it can be accomplished at a high level.   There are many ways to get things done.  Choose the best one based on your experience and stick with it.  If you lack the confident to set direction, your team can easily get overworked and it can turn into a nightmare for everyone.
  2. Delegate issues not tasks – This second manager quality speaks to the first part of the quote above.  Make sure you delegate well in order to accomplish greatness with a team.  If you delegate only tasks, then you are restricting your team from helping you solve the larger problem.  Assess your team members’ skills early and delegate issues accordingly based on what you think they can handle.   Your job is to own a large issue, break them down into smaller ones and then let each team member help you solve the smaller ones.  If you hold on too tight and only delegate tasks, then you will end up doing most of the work and your team members can also be de-motivated from not being challenged.
  3. Support open communication – Even if you are already good at #1 and 2 above, it’s important to realize that you can never be 100% clear to your team.  This is why this 3rd manager quality is ultra important.  Find a way to encourage your team members to ask clarification questions and get feedback on their work progress.  This will make your job easier in the long run as you cannot easily guess where someone may be confused or stuck.  By encouraging communication, you can create a safe environment for your team to ask questions, get feedback and escalate concerns.
  4. Invest time in people development – Being  a manager is not just about getting more things done.  You also need to invest time to develop your team.  This means understanding each person’s skill level, career goals, and creating opportunities for them to learn new skills while at the same time accomplishing what the company need this team to accomplish.  This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it.   When you care about the success of each of your team members, they will in turn care about your success and go above and beyond to perform.   This 4th manager quality also set the foundation for you to become a great leader.
  5. Provide constructive feedback – In conjunction with a mindset to develop others, as a manager, it is critical to know how to provide constructive feedback.  No one is perfect and all will have strengths and development areas.   It is your job as a manager to let each of your team members know how to leverage their strengths and provide good examples of where and how to develop.
  6. Give credit to team – This may sound simple but if you worked hard to get something done with your team, your ego may instinctively want to claim the credit since you are the team lead.  Resist!  Nothing demotivates a team more quickly than a manager who claim all the credit.  My advice is to always give the credit to your team.   Your team will appreciate it and frankly leadership is smart and will naturally credit you even if you don’t claim it and will also think you are a great manager.
  7. Define your own management style – At the end of the day, the qualities of what make a good manager may be the same but the style you will use to manifest these qualities depends on your personality.  Don’t try to copy someone else’s style exactly just because you admire them as a good manager.   Find a few role models in management and incorporate a little bit of each into your own management style.  Only when you take time to develop your own style, can these manager qualities be manifested consistently and genuinely.

All these qualities are easier said than done.  Becoming a good manager is a process.  These 7 qualities of what makes a good manager is only the beginning to help you set a vision of how a good manager should behave.  If you invest time, you will become a good manager over time.  Best wishes on your journey.

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Your comments:  is there a quality of what makes a good manager that I missed?  Which of these 7 qualities do you think is the most difficult to develop and why?  I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner.

Lei

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Managing Interns: Tips and Advice

I saw a set of questions online about how to manage and mentor marketing interns.  As I used to manage and mentor lots of consultants including interns when I worked for Deloitte, I wanted to share my 2 cents.   The questions didn’t specify whether these were high school, college, or MBA interns, so I will assume these are college interns

Q1) what are some tips and advice on motivating team members to mentor interns? what are some ways to encourage team members to foster their leadership and mentorship skills while utilizing the interns?

There are four things you can do to motivate team members to mentor/use interns

  1. Market interns as a free resource team members can use to lighten their load.  Anyone would want to get free help
  2. Each intern needs a designated team member mentor.  Allow your team members to choose their interns instead of assign them one.  This encourages the team members that volunteer first to get first picks and they get who they want.
  3. Make it mandatory for everyone if you have enough interns and add their performance as a mentor part of the team member’s performance review under Leadership Potential. This will align incentives with your goals.
  4. Provide a short training on how to best mentor / utilize interns. Provide examples of appropriate intern task.  Steps to follow to provide proper mentoring.

Q2) What are some ways to keep interns engaged and motivated in an internship program?

You can try several of the following ideas.

  • Create an Intern Event (90 min) near the end of the internship – require all team members and intern to attend. At this event, give each Intern a chance to present 5 min – what they did and what they learned.  This will provide an opportunity for Interns to present and will motivate team members to give their interns some meaning work. Maybe provide food and do it during lunch to minimize impact on work productivity.
  • Same as 4 above. Provide training to team member mentors so that they know not to just give intern only mundane work like copying and arranging meeting.
  • If times allows, have a team member be the Intern Advocate for all interns.  He or she can have meet with Interns to figure out what they hope to learn from the internship.  From that, the information can be disseminated to all team members with interns to try to incorporate.  He or she can also be a go-to person if any team member or intern is experiencing difficulty during the internship.
  • Manage Intern expectations.  A lot of their work may be mundane like filing and copying.   They are there because they are trading that work for opportunities to learn new things as well.
  • If in case you don’t have enough team members for all the interns you hired, then perhaps try an Apprentice Model. Split them into 2 or 3 teams with one team members each and have them either compete on one project or each team work on separate projects.  Either way, there needs to be a final presentation by each team.

At the end of the day, even though interns are young,  they are also smart and ambitious.  The focus is to create opportunity for them to learn something new while allowing team members to offload some of the low-level tasks to them.

Q3) What are some example 1-month marketing projects that interns could be assigned in addition to their daily tasks?

This one is kind of hard to answer.  I would delegate this to each team member who has an intern to come up with a 1 month project that an intern can work on and help support that team member’s work.  Some example can be

  • Market research work regarding a new target customer segment
  • come up with campaign copy if the target audience is the age of these interns
  • Competitive research

Hope that helps.  I am always in your corner

Lei

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