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Action Tools for Effective Managers: A Guide for Solving Day-to-Day Problems on the Job

by Mary Gootnick, David Gootnick

Amacom, 256 pages, $14.00

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Managers are expected to get more out of less from their teams these days, but nothing drains productivity quite like daily workplace dilemmas. As Action Tools for Effective Managers shows, problems come in all shapes and sizes. A total of 68 common problems are examined ranging from areas of delegation, performance reviews to hiring and disciplining workers. Any supervisor who has ever felt challenged and overwhelmed by a sticky situation will welcome this quick primer on how to identify what is happening and take action to resolve the issue.

The Gootnicks present brief case studies that ring with realism and frame things in human terms. Next, they list the issues embodied in the particular problem. For example, a recently promoted sales manager feels bogged down and never seems to be able to get his work done. He declined management training and mentoring to ease him into his new position and felt confident that he knew how to handle his new responsibilities. In the case analysis we learn that the new manager has problems putting trust in others to handle tasks and maintains a "do it yourself" attitude. The diagnosis: he's deficient at delegating. The Action Tools given for this scenario include guidelines for delegating and building employees' independence and initiative by giving them responsibility and authority.

The section devoted to Performance Management is quick to point out that dealing with problems immediately is far more effective than letting things fester. The authors balance a supervisor's responsibility by urging those in charge to foster the ability to resolve issues in their workers. Especially insightful are case studies for new managers who can feel overwhelmed in contentious workplace situations involving feelings and jealousies.

Today's managers are time pressed and the authors acknowledge this by providing direct, rapid solutions. And no problem is too small. Current issues like cell phone etiquette and situations relating to the Internet are covered as well. Action Tools includes checklists and standard procedures for dealing with difficult issues. Any manager who appreciates simplicity as opposed to elaborate, in–depth analysis will benefit from practicing these techniques.

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