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The School for Managers
by Andrew E. Schwartz

Congratulations! You are now a manager. How did this happen? By the "magic fairy dust" method: Poof: "You are a manager"? Or did you go to the school of hard knocks (learning through trial and error)? Well, regardless of how, the more important question is: are you trained and prepared for the new intellectual and emotional challenges that await? Too often, employees are placed into the role of manager with little or no management training and development skills. The following are ideas, tips and techniques we at A. E. Schwartz & Associates have uncovered. They are presented here as an excerpt from our most popular program, entitled: The School for Managers.

Question: Can you identify your leadership style?

By examining the varieties of leadership styles, their advantages and weaknesses, as well as your employees and the given situation, you can decide what is the "best" leadership style for you. You should adopt a style that you are comfortable with to lead you to future success. There are many different leadership styles, but one trait is prevalent in every successful leader - the ability to bring people together to accomplish a task!   This can be done by:

  • Involving employees in decision making.

  • Encouraging two-way communication.

  • Sharing power.

  • Being flexible.

Developing employee commitment and building a resource base of peers, former managers and previous managers of your new organization are very important. The more extensive your network, the easier it will be to handle the new challenges that accompany your efforts with time management, delegation, communication and motivation.

Question: Are you in charge of a motivated workplace?

If you take time to focus on your employees and their environment you will create and sustain a cohesive, enthusiastic team which produces at or above the level expected by top management. To build a solid, productive workforce you should take the employees you have and train them to be highly competent.

Doing a good job of training and coaching is the most practical way to have successful and productive employees. If you keep your employees' interests, priorities and goals in mind when you organize tasks, you will achieve your intended goals and also build a stronger team.

Question: Do you set achievable goals?

Goal setting gives direction to the work of an individual employee as well as to a department and organization by:   

  • Providing a stimulus for articulating what the individual wants to achieve and what 
    the organization expects from the individual.

  • Getting people to discuss activities and action rather than personality characteristics.

  • Forcing management and employees to plan for the future.

This process allows an organization to check on the attainment of both its short-term and long-term objectives.

  Question: Are you communicating clearly with your employees?

Successful communication is a complex and difficult process. A broad development of awareness, understanding and hard won new habits is required in order to gradually improve your skills of effective communication. A good communicator always: 

  • Exchanges ideas, feelings and values.

  • Uses appropriate language, tone, pitch and volume.

  • Gives relevant information.

  • Uses non-verbal signals to emphasize and support messages.

  • Solicits feedback.

  • Conveys understanding.

Effective communication means getting through to the other person what you mean in a way that they understand. The end result is to get things done with minimal or no problems so that you, the organization and the employee will all be satisfied.

Are you familiar with the problem solving process and your own decision making style?

Solving problems and making decisions are challenges managers encounter daily. Effective problem solving and decision making depends on using a method rather than relying on luck such as the ready, fire, then aim syndrome. Whether the problem is new or recurring, a systematic approach will have these stages:

  • Identify and clarify the problem.

  • Seek out the causes of the problem.

  • Solicit a variety of potential solutions.

  • Select an alternative.

  • Plan to implement the solution.

  • Use the solution and evaluate the results.

You can use this system by yourself or with a group. While working alone may seem more efficient, there are benefits to involving others in the problem solving and decision making process: you can get a greater variety of perspectives, use the group dynamic to generate creative ideas, and gain a greater commitment to solving the problem from everyone involved.

Question: Are you overwhelmed by insurmountable projects, endless paperwork and constant interruptions?

Instead of thinking about how you can manage, create and save time, think more about ways to utilize it. Once you have accomplished this, you may invest in time what you value. To help you do this, keep in mind some of the principles of time management:

  • Time management needs to be simple, organized and efficient so that it is effective.

  • Understand what you are doing and create a plan.

  • Ask SMART questions (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time based).

As a new manager, you will soon realize that you can not accomplish all of your tasks by yourself, you must learn to delegate. Consequently, now is the time to assess yourself.

Question: are you an effective delegator?

Delegation is a challenging skill for all managers to master because it involves effective communication, motivation, goal setting and leadership. Three essential components to successful delegation are: 

  • Proper assignment of duties,

  • Granting authority to perform.

  • Creating a climate of responsibility.

Unless all three are achieved, the delegation process will not be effective. To make your decision easier, clarify the parameters of the delegation for yourself by considering these 
three questions:

     1.  What is the purpose of this delegation? Knowing if it is to decrease my workload or 
          to develop an employee helps in determining whether or not to delegate a task.

     2.  Should I delegate this task? Knowing the purpose of the assignment assists in         
          determining whether or not to delegate a task.

     3.  What exactly do I want done? Specify the scope of the assignment.

Effective delegation can save you hundreds of hours of unnecessary work, increase 
productivity and provide invaluable training to your associates and employees.

Successful leaders build high performing and profitable organizations through the use of three key elements: knowledge, experience and insight. By developing your management skills you will realize enormous benefits in increased productivity, decreased stress and increased confidence. Your employees will also receive and feel these same benefits, and you may find employee grievances and turnover decrease. Training is the key.

By striving for awareness of your employees and your work environment, and with appropriate management development and skills training, you too can be a successful leader.


1. Don't Expect Too Much Too Soon: Realize that old habits die hard. A position of management necessitates new skills and new ways of thinking. These just won't happen; you'll need to learn them.

2. Do Unto Other...: Sometimes when people are promoted they forget what life used to be
like. Commit to managing subordinates as you would have liked to be managed.

3. Admit Mistakes/Not Knowing: A management title doesn't erase one of fallibility. You'll be surprised by the respect you'll generate from saying the words "I don't know." But be sure to quickly follow those words up, however, with "but I'll find out."

4. Know Your Role: It's essential that you know what your department's role is and how it
fits in to the organization's mission.

5. Learn How to Juggle: As a manager, you're now in the delicate position of dealing with missed deadlines, conflicting priorities, and petty office politics. Keeping "all the balls in the air" will become a much-needed art form.

Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA, A leader in the training and development industry. Mr. Schwartz is a prestigious author, trainer, and consultant with a humorous approach. He has authored over 65 books/works plus 200 articles on management, professional development, and training have appeared in publications nationally and internationally. (617) 926-9111 ExpertMagazine.com 2001

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