mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - The Effective Manager

Next up on the managerial reads train is what we all strive to be: The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman.

Who recommended the book? I found this book listed on a Medium post about good books to read for engineering managers. I can’t find the link right now, but will update this post if I find it. Whoever wrote that post, thank you very much!

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? The cover of The Effective Manager leaves a lot to be desired. It’s drab: white background with a bunch of grey circles and then three blue circles on one orange circle. The author’s name and the word “The” of the title is in sans serif font but the “Effective Manager” has serifs. There are four critical managerial behaviors discussed in this book but I’m unsure if anyone is worth being orange and the others blue. Inside the book we get some visual respite: clean font, large text, comfortable kerning, and nice thick paper that doesn’t let highlighter ink bleed through.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? The Effective Manager distills the work of a manager down to two things: produce results and retain people. To achieve this the manager needs to engage in four behaviors. Here are the four behaviors with accompanying activities with the interesting tidbit I took away from each section.

  1. Get to Know Your People via One on Ones - Use the 10/10/10 agenda: first 10 minutes for your direct to speak, then 10 minutes for you to speak, and then 10 minutes to talk about the future.
  2. Communicate about Performance via Feedback - Ask if you can give feedback, state the behavior, state the impact of the behavior, and encourage effective future behavior.
  3. Ask for More via Coaching - Collaborate to set a goal, collaborate to brainstorm resources, collaborate to create a plan, and then direct acts and reports back on the plan.
  4. Push Work Down via Delegation - Delegation is you turning over responsibility for one of your regular responsibilities - something you routinely do - to one of your directs.

The Effective Manager offers concrete steps for most of the stuff it covers, but it can be over prescriptive sometimes covering things like being friends with your directs, drinking with your directs, and being Facebook friends with your directs. Common sense and some caution will get you through most of these situations so it was a bit odd to read entire mini-sections in the book dedicated to them.

Favorite quote from the book? “There’s a simple rule about work when there’s more than can be done: before trying to get more of everything done, get the most important things done first.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? While The Effective Manager might be too prescriptive for some, I believe it can offer actionable advice or a new perspective on a tried-and-true tool for even a seasoned manager. I can see it not being for everyone but I found it worth the read.

Notes in Evernote? Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Enjoyed this episode of Manager Reads? Check out more in the Manager Reads corner!