Craft & Consumption

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On Managing Yourself {Book Review}

I was recently given a compilation of essays published by the Harvard Business Review, the book is titled "On Managing Yourself". As it turns out, it's pretty amazing.

I've found that the essays in this little guy are completely spot-on for me at this stage in my career*. I've even found myself reading the essays aloud to colleagues, and wanting to pass-out relevant excerpts to others in my office. 

The first essay, "How Will you Measure Your Life", is a little touchy-feely. The author (Clayton Christensen) speaks to the importance of understanding one's values, and making sure that your actions and the things you dedicate your time to are in line with those values. It wasn't the most captivating of essays, but you get Christensen's point. 

The next essay, titled "Managing Oneself", explains how the various types of learning effect us in the workplace. Do you digest info best when listening? When reading? When talking out loud? The author, Peter Drucker, explains that it's super important no, crucial to know how you learn (and best retain information). Knowing how those around you learn is the next step, it makes you a hands down better manager. Don't send thousands of emails to a subordinate who digests info best by listening. They're missing half of the message just because of the medium!

The third essay got me really jazzed up. It's called "Who's Got the Monkey". Essentially the authors use a monkey as a metaphor for work. As a manager, I often become a bottleneck in the workplace. A staff member will ask me to review an email, or review a report, before they move on to their next step of the project. This puts the onus on me to move the ball forward. They (and 5 other subordinates) are waiting on an action item from me. Hello, bottleneck! 

The essay explains that in order to effectively manage, you can't "take the monkey". You have to keep the monkey with the subordinate who owns the project. Seriously, reading this essay turned on a light bulb in my brain. You've got to check it out. Super relevant stuff for anyone managing other people in the modern age!

I am about halfway done with the book and can't wait to finish it. There are more great essays about dealing with the influx of technology, and time management. Truly a great read! 

*Career Context: I have been working as the Sales & Marketing Director for Sorrelli (a fashion jewelry company) for the last 2.5 years. Before that I was the Marketing Manager at the same organization. I manage a team of about 5 direct reports and 15 indirect reports. 

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