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        Thursday, February, 23, 2017
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  Daily Bread

Note: There are two articles on this page. Please scroll down to view both articles.

Article One:

Common Attributes of Good Managers

We routinely study managers and supervisors seeking answers as to why certain managers are successful and others seem to fail. It can be somewhat difficult to find a truly good manager. But it really is not all that difficult to identify the attributes that separate good managers from average or bad ones.

Contrary to what some business owners and executives believe, a significant problem in any business is identifying, hiring, and keeping qualified and effective management personnel. People are the key factor in the success of any business. And it all starts with the management team. There seems to be such a dearth of good managers that organizations tend to accept mediocrity as a way of life rather than deal with the difficult issue of removing bad managers.

Bad managers can have a very detrimental impact on an organization. Very often, managers are not good mentors and coaches and there hasn't been enough time spent in trying to mold them into effective managers. And in many cases, no matter how much "molding" takes place, the individual's inherent personality traits won't allow the necessary behavior modification to occur.

But when it is time to identify someone for a management position, it helps immensely to look for certain attributes that tend to be found in good managers. The following list is probably not a complete one, but it seems to form a good foundation in terms of identifying what attributes are common among good managers:

  • They care.
  • They have a good sense of humor.
  • They have strong people skills.
  • They possess strong communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • They have a sense of fairness in dealing with people and issues.
  • They exhibit consistency in behavior.
  • They are able to control emotions and keep them out of decision making and interactions with others. 
  • They believe that employees are more important to his/her and the company's success than he/she is.
  • They are honest.
  • They are willing to seek input from employees and build consensus.
  • They are open minded.
  • They are flexible.
  • They have well controlled egos and are humble.
  • They are self-confident and secure.
  • They are good listeners.
  • They possess the ability to be direct when needed without being abusive or offensive.
  • They have a sincere interest in people and their well being.
  • They have good perceptive/intuitive abilities.
  • They possess a good understanding of what makes people tick.
  • They are mature.  
  • They allow others to get credit for positive outcomes and they want their people to succeed.
  • They understand that hiring good people is critical to their success and they do not micromanage. 
  • They are willing to admit to their own shortcomings and mistakes and do not feel a persistent need to be right.
  • They are effective at instilling accountability and responsibility for results.
  • They have the ability to think strategically and focus on both the short and long-term. 
  • They work hard.
  • They understand the need to achieve results and remain focused on them.

How do you and other managers/supervisors working in your organization stack up against each of these attributes? Using a five point scale with 1 being little of a particular attribute and 5 being a lot, rate yourself against this list. If you feel comfortable doing so, have others do the same and then compare your perception of your attributes to the perceptions of co-workers and subordinates. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Keep in mind that all of us bring certain personality traits and associated behaviors to the workplace. Probably the two keys to becoming an excellent manager are; 1) being self aware and 2) understanding that changes in behavior are likely necessary. Those who can achieve self awareness and appropriate behavioral modifications that coincide with the list above will typically achieve the highest levels of success as managers.

The award winning Managing People For High Performance self-study training manual provides additional in-depth information regarding management and supervisory attributes and skills. Also included in this widely used workbook is a personality assessment tool that will allow you to better compare personality and behaviors to the attributes most desirable in managers. Visit our sister site to order your copy today.

Article Two:

What Not To Do During Tough Economic Conditions

One reality that every business must face is that they will eventually have to endure a bad economy. Economic conditions cycle for various reasons and, even though there has recently been an extended period of a strong economic environment, the world is now facing a rough patch that will impact most businesses.

There are some things that business owners and managers do during difficult times that sometimes just don't make sense. Here are five of those that you should be careful to avoid:

1. Don't panic! Panic is the root of many business problems because emotions overtake logic. When that happens, decisions become short-sighted and are based on short-term results. Stay calm and evaluate the impact of the changing economy on your business over the immediate-term as well as the long-term using sound logic and realistic scenarios that might play out. Certainly you should consider worst case scenarios, but be careful not to immediately assume that they will play out. How you handle things will in a large way determine to what extent the economy impacts your bottom line.

2. Don't jump to terminate good employees. While it may be necessary to lay off some employees when things slow down significantly, be very careful which ones you let go and which ones you keep. Cutting loose great employees can actually exacerbate the impact of a bad economy because your ability to manage through it is compromised. Good people can help weather a rough economic cycle. And you also should consider what happens when the economy improves. Ask yourself if you will be able to replace strong employees with equally strong or stronger employees when you need to rehire. And running too lean can lead to other problems in terms of productivity and customer service. Carefully consider what impact any substantial layoffs could have on your business.

3. Don't assume that marketing expenditures should be the first things cut. Too many companies jump immediately to marketing and sales items when cutting expenses. If there are marketing expenditures that are yielding marginal returns on your investment, certainly look hard at those. But there are times when marketing expenditures must be increased during difficult times to help power through the down cycle. A mistake that many businesses make is that they cut marketing and sales efforts and fail to cut less important activities and expenditures. Look closely at how any cut in your marketing and sales efforts will impact your business.

4. Don't be afraid to renegotiate! Whether it is your bank, your landlord, your suppliers, and anyone else you may be paying on a regular basis. Can you restructure loans? Will your bank lower your rate? Ask your landlord to reduce your rent to keep you as a tenant if you are nearing the end of your lease. Talk to your suppliers and let them know they will need to bend on pricing or discounts. In general, talk to anyone you make payments to and let them know you need some relief.

5. Don't sit back and do nothing. Look at your expenses and see what can be trimmed without negatively impacting the business. If you don't have sound strategic, business, and marketing plans in place, get them in place immediately and begin executing them. If you have unproductive people, help them become productive or replace them if they can't get productive. If you can raise prices even slightly without impacting demand for your product, do so to enhance margins. If you have to decrease prices due to reduced demand, do so very carefully and don't lower them more than necessary. Shop around for better pricing on things you buy. Look at your processes. Can they be improved and made more efficient? Do you have managers or supervisors who are ineffective? Get them some help or replace them. Is your customer service lacking? Work hard to improve it.

Avoid making these mistakes and your chances of withstanding a slow or troubled economy will be enhanced.

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