How to be the best manager you can

Isn’t it frustrating managing people?

Do you wish that people problems didn’t take up so much of your time and energy?

Julie CooperEven the helpful ones have their moments and the difficult ones? They can sap your will to carry on while not doing their job well. You’re the manager. How will you ever get the results you need?

For example, I heard Carl say this yesterday: “Are they stupid or  deliberately annoying?” He was talking about team members who just didn’t get his instructions – which he said were crystal clear.

Five times he had repeated the instructions, every time a team member came back at him with a question that showed they had completely the wrong end of the stick.

His exasperation wasn’t exactly motivating his team!

Then there was Karen. She, too, was fuming. It was about an inappropriate, highly unprofessional remark a colleague had made. She spent a long time thinking what to do about it – and she was going to carry the bad feeling around for a lot longer.

Lastly, let me mention Andrew. His staff tell me that he never notices what they do well, he just barks criticism when he sees work not up to his standards. The more he barks, the less motivated and loyal his staff feel, and the poorer productivity is. Now who’s upset?

 I hear stories like these all the time. Crystal clear instructions, not knowing what to say, pointing out failings …

None of these take up much time – or do they?

We have two major issues here that impact on each other.

The first is time. Some recent research shows us this:

 Managers waste a huge number of hours every single week because they don’t handle people well in the first place.

Not knowing how to respond is a stress factor by itself.

Take Carl, for instance. By the time he spoke to me, he had had five phone calls to deal with from confused staff. He labelled them all idiots but hadn’t thought to get anyone to check how he was explaining things.

As for Andrew, he was in danger of exploding, prowling round the work site, showing his irritation to all.  His staff were operating a silent mutiny in response to his constant carping, doing just enough to avoid being sacked. I doubt his blood pressure is healthy.

The second issue is productivity.

Output plummets when relationships are strained. No one goes the extra mile when caught in situations like those above. More mistakes happen, standards slip, problems seem insurmountable, good staff leave

…and it shows on the bottom line.

 I’ve been training managers for 20 years. All the managers I have met in that time have had good intentions. They want to get things done now and have ambitions for the future. Most are passionate about their brand or service, they usually want their people to develop and succeed too. Are you the same?

What managers often lack is the toolkit of techniques they need to get the best out of others.

They all have some strategies, but rarely are they equipped to deal with every situation that comes up. When they come up against a situation where they have no experience, or it catches them when they are already stressed.

They don’t always choose the most effective way to handle it.

Put yourself in my shoes. I’m running a training day on appraisal skills. Imagine you are a delegate. Progress is great, everyone is taking on board what is important, so far, so good. Soon I can see that the challenges the delegates face are greater than the time allowed.

I realise that Tom and Jill could really do with courses on managing their boss, learning to say no and being more assertive. As for Phil, it sounds like he needs to be careful how he manages performance issues.

We have half an hour left, there is no way we can cover all the ground. I can’t expect them all commit to signing up for a whole load more training days. Anyway, some of the issues are very current:

Solutions are needed right now.

What would you do if you were me? Sometimes I would stay behind to suggest individual strategies. Other times I would signpost to a useful book, course or video clip. It all seemed a bit piecemeal, yet I was doing the best I could with the resources I had.

When the recession hit, budgets got even tighter or disappeared altogether – while at the same time, the need for effective management skills intensified as companies fought for survival. I thought long and hard about what I could do to help my clients.

I needed to find a way to pass on the tools and strategies I had gathered over the years in a way that was accessible to busy, pressured people who needed answers fast. And It needed to be a whole lot cheaper and quicker than a raft of training days.

 Suddenly it hit me.

The answer seemed so obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it already:

An A-Z guide of how to deal with every situation a manager might encounter

with every chapter in exactly the same format so that once you’ve looked at one, the rest are easy.  Filled with tips, steps, techniques – everything you need to deal with people.

My second thought was that such a handbook must exist. I spent hours looking for it. I scoured Amazon, sat cross legged on the floor of bookshops… I found several general guides to communication, but few just about the workplace context. I found loads on specific subjects, containing more words than a busy manager would read. You’d need a very large bookshelf to cover everything.

I knew exactly what I wanted my book to look like. Succinct, comprehensive, white space, humour.

– and above all, practical and instantly accessible.

Face to face in the workplace

But can a trainer write a good book?

Most people assume Face to Face in the Workplace is my first. It isn’t. It is my fourth book. You might not know this, but I’ve co-written a few books for advisers and coaches. 

They are practical, user friendly guides which are widely used and praised,

especially by colleges and training organisations. I’ve learnt a lot about how to break down information and what people like to read.

 Face to Face in the WorkplaceFace to Face in the Workplace has helped people like Susan – busy, dealing with new responsibilities, wanting to get it right.Susan had just been promoted at work but was very apprehensive about managing people. It showed in her hesitance to deal with situations confidently and convincingly. Her management training wasn’t for months, so she looked for something to help her. She used Face to Face in the Workplace and even wrote to tell me how brilliant she found it.

Having it by her side transformed her into a self assured, popular manager.

Chris was suffering at the hands of difficult boss. We talked about just telling someone how not to behave, and how this is not enough – you need to guide them on how they should behave instead. In desperation, Chris bought a copy of the book, left it on his boss’s desk and went on holiday. I wish I had been a fly on the wall when he picked it up! I only know that Chris emailed me this week to say that things had been better ever since; his boss is now more chilled and recognises his contribution.

Others have been in touch to tell me that it’s ideal as an easy, quick resource for managers, to use in team coaching sessions or one to ones; equipped, happy people who know how to deal with the issues they are facing competently.

If you want to do well in your career, why not have a complete toolkit at your fingertips?

You’ll see on Amazon and online reviews that many others feel the same about Face to Face in the Workplace being an invaluable aid to getting the best from others.

 With 26 chapters on a range of relevant subjects, plus a large section covering ‘The Basics’, Face to Face in the Workplace has people management totally covered. In 252 clear pages it lets you reference the tools and strategies you would normally glean from about 30 days of training. How much would that cost you? How long would it take you, at say one day a month?

And how much value would it add to your career?

If it helped you to solve even one tricky people problem that is preying on your mind it will pay for itself.

But it offers the reassurance of a whole host of solutions within arms reach to be learned only when you need them.

Face to Face in the Workplace costs just £20.00. That’s a box of copier paper, or window cleaning from petty cash.

It’s a no brainer.

 You could carry on with the same frustrations and wasted time, with people issues going round in circles without reaching good conclusions.

Or you could invest £20.00 to equip yourself with skills, peace of mind – and most important of all –

the ability to be a better manager.


Face to Face in the Workplace

The Sunday Times Featured Book

“Highly Recommended. Valuable tips and guidance…The style of the book is easy to read and manageable, as much of it is set out in short paragraphs, with plenty of bullet points and questions. A good read if you’re looking to improve your communication skills”. ” Business Executive Magazine

face to face in the workplace“With a clear talent for giving you what you need to know,  Julie Cooper, has compiled an exceptional handbook for managers and aspiring managers in all industry sectors. There are plenty of gems in this book that you will not want to miss. I think its real value is in it’s no nonsense approach to the kinds of issues we often feel we should know and be able to do as a manager, the ones we don’t always feel we can ask for help with. For this reason I thoroughly recommend this book as a personal investment or as a corporate investment for all managers in your organisation.” HR Director

“Reviewing this book was a joy…There is good, solid theory gleaned from reputable sources and suggestions for further reading, alongside simply stated, practically-focused advice… they’re all there and beautifully summarised.” HR Zone

The format is very reader friendly ,The content is very practical …So overall a comprehensive handbook that is instructive and well  structured. Well worth the read for even the most experienced manager.” Manager

“Julie Cooper follows up her bestselling One to One Toolkit with this easy-to-read tome about face-to-face workplace conversations. In practice that means a breezy guide to such quotidian workplace concerns as listening, body language, asserting yourself, giving appraisals, conflict management, delegating and handling disciplinary meetings.

The book…whizzes through these topics, offering nuggets of advice, words of warnings and definitions, with a strong focus on empathy – one of the hooks of the book is that it always refers back to “TOPI” (The Other Person Involved).

…if you’re a manager…..this is a great place to get an overview of workplace issues. It’s well laid-out, straightforward, upbeat, and pleasingly free of monstrous jargon. All of which makes it very handy to dip in and out of – pretty useful if you’re a time-poor manager with lots of TOPIs to deal with.” ILM Edge


How to be the best Manager Included: Assertive behaviour , Explaining , Listening , Interviewing applicants , Making someone redundant , Saying no, Shutting people up, Introducing change , Self awareness, Dismissing a member of staff, Personality styles, Challenging , Questioning, Credibility , Rapport, Body language, Respect , Appraisals ,Return to work interviews , Challenging attitude, Coaching , Feedback , Conflict , The Dark Triad, Negotiating , Delegating, Exit interviews, Instructing, Influencing, Inappropriate Behaviour, Managing your Boss, Mentoring, Performance gaps, Praising, Supervising ,Reprimanding, Supporting through change, 360° feedback.

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