Managing People for the First Time
by Julie Lewthwaite
Thorogood Publishing, 272 pages, $18.59
Making the leap to managing people for the first time can often feel like a full time job in itself. Because managing people is an art and a craft, this book devotes equal time to both aspects. Lewthwaite dives deep into topics relevant for new supervisors and ones who may be encountering challenging situations on the job. She is not content to dismiss a condition as completely positive or negative. For instance, Managing People for the First Time explores how stress and conflict can be constructive forces for new managers. Of course, the trick is successfully managing these potential stressors, and the book succeeds in doing that.
Lewthwaite begins with the observation that "Successful managers, and successful managers as leaders, do not manage people, they manage their relationships with people." The first section explores how vital it is for new managers to continue to be inquisitive and learn. "The first step in learning is to consider our own personal learning skills, styles, and preferences," she writes. She then examines the four types of learning styles, including dynamic and analytical learning. According to Lewthwaite, "There is a lot of evidence to suggest that as managers we are unable to 'see' ourselves." She demonstrates how, without this, it becomes hard to learn, grow, and change habits.
The meat of the book is devoted to negotiating and resolving conflict. The author dissects the difference between competitive and collaborative negotiations and situations where one style is often more effective. For instance, making concessions in a competitive negotiation is seen as a sign of weakness, while it is perfectly acceptable in a collaborative dynamic. Because managing depends so much on relationships with a supervisor's superiors and employees, Lewthwaite delves into the advantages and details of collaborative negotiation. Collaborative negotiation produces a model of principled bargaining built around these four strategies:
1. Separate the people from the problem
2. Focus on interests, not positions
3. Invest options for mutual gain
4. Insist on objective criteria
Managing People for the First Time includes assessment exercises designed to help managers take a step back from their daily activities to evaluate encounters and emerging patterns. It chooses not to focus on real life cases and personal anecdotes, and functions as more of a reference workbook for managers. Anyone moving from taking orders to giving them will appreciate Lewthwaite's theories and exercises.