David C. Baker
Managing (Right) for the First Time is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. David C. Baker worked closely with 600+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and eminently readable form. Read this book and you’re likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager and leader.
The book begins with preface and introduction, and then contains 21 digestible chapter, starting with a unique view of the basics and then building to an interesting conclusion. Chapter 1 talks about who managers are and how you become one in real life, since the circumstances for your promotion have a significant bearing on how your management experience unfolds. Chapter 2 examines the various reasons for promotion, explaining the implications of each. Chapter 3 explains the few but critical elements that allow an inspired start as a leader, including (Chapter 4) how to manage your boss effectively so that the two of you can actually get things done. Chapter 5 recounts the early discoveries you’ll make, hopefully eliminating many of the surprises that might stunt your growth as a manager. Then Chapter 6 explains that there are not just two kinds of managers (good managers and bad managers), but in fact three kinds: evil managers, those who are managing, and those who are not managing. This chapter alone provides some seminal thinking that is certain to change your management life. Chapter 7 details the process for finding the right employee candidates. Chapter 8 provides a thorough look at how to screen applicants reliably. And chapter 9 provides a checklist style program for integrating employees through their initial orientation and first few weeks on the job. To that end, Chapter 10 lays out some important principles to keep in mind when structuring employee roles. Chapter 11 is perhaps the fulcrum of the book in that it compiles the most important individual elements of managing employees well, followed by a revolutionary approach to performance reviews (Chapter 12) that you might actually enjoy doing! Chapter 13 urges you to move beyond reluctant leadership, followed by a logical next step in Chapter 14: being a leader that your employees want to follow. It’s all neatly tied together in Chapter 15, which examines the creating and sustaining of an appropriate culture at your firm or department. Chapter 16 explains the different styles of managing, allowing for the different personality types. Chapter 17 notes the important transitions you’ll make over time, particularly if you want to remain effective. And Chapter 18 contains a short but important message for control freak managers. Chapter 19 argues for a more open approach to management, and chapter 20 shares a unique perspective on work/life balance so that your role is sustainable over time. Chapter 21 concludes with some specific suggestions designed to help the managers who follow you. Finally, there’s a concluding section with real advice from real managers who were asked to speak to you, the reader, sharing what they wish they had known when they set out on their own journey.
A friend’s request that you review his first book can prompt a range of emotions. On one hand, he’s one of the smartest, well-reasoned successful and in-charge people you know. On the other, brilliant authors occasionally produce literary clunkers. It was that with a fair amount of procrastination, I prepared for the reading session. (After all, this was a business book I was about to read, not a Nelson DeMille novel). Within minutes, I found myself half way through the book. Because I know David, I could visualize him sitting across from a new manager, dispensing his counsel in his straight-foward, logical, no-nonsense manner. He writes with authority about the good and not-so-good reasons people are promoted into management roles; the pitfalls and opportunities; the importance of managing the relationship with one’s boss; and the critical importance of understanding the core principles that guide successful managers. This book is not meant exclusively for the neophyte. Every manager can profit from it. Experienced managers can use it to assay the fineness of their managing. Moreover, hiring managers will find it an indispensable guide when they promote others to management. From watching David present to large audiences, reading his articles and conversing with him via email, I was certain the book would not be a pompous tome about the importance of motivation, formal employee development programs or organizational development theory. I was not disappointted, as it is wise, tested counsel, presented logically and understandably and immediately usable.
–John Ranalletta, Senior Consultant at Advisa