I love management like a baby piglet loves playing in mud puddles.
I’m also determined to elevate management to an art form, one based on humane common sense first and foremost, as I do my part to reinvent work itself as we know it. So when I find a like-minded great-management evangelist, another baby piglet to play with me, I get very excited.
For a long time I was a “lurker” (Christopher Bailey taught me that moniker) at the blog named Management Craft. The more I would read, the more I thought, “This author is someone I could really talk story with, a bottomless mug of Kona coffee in hand.” Then she wrote a book, and come to find out she must’ve been lurking at Talking Story too, for she sent me an email asking if I’d review it for her.
When her book arrived in the mail, this was the paragraph I randomly opened the book to:
“There is an almost magical synergy in a work environment when a high impact middle manager operates at peak efficiency. Their questions are timely and on target; their ideas are provocative in ways that help move the work forward. They know how to think strategically. Transitions from one task to the next seem choreographed. As they walk through the office, their demeanor is calm but with a sense of urgency. Busy, focused, and driven, these managers produce results and imbue the workplace with energy. Those who watch these manager may feel motivated or intimidated——but they are not unaffected.”
Aha! I’m not the only one nuts about this stuff. What an incredibly rich mud puddle to play in.
Today it is my pleasure to welcome Lisa Haneberg of Management Craft to our Ho‘ohana Online Community.
In the spirit of our February Ho‘ohana: A Love Affair with Books, Bren the Slacker Manager beat us all to the punch claiming Lisa’s book as the one he wanted to review for the Ho‘ohana Online Community Library. Here’s Bren’s review:
Solutions for Today’s Busy Managers
By Lisa Haneberg
First things first: I love this book and it’s going into my regular reference shelf. But it took me a little while to really get into it.
First, there’s the title. I mean, there’s a certain stigma attached to the phrase “middle management.” Reminds me of the boss from the movie Office Space. And once you’ve got an unhealthy notion of middle management as bumblers or control freaks, you become very reluctant to self-identify with that group.
Next, the first couple of chapters are slow going. Once you press on, though, you realize that the author was just setting the stage for what’s to come.
If you make it over those two roadblocks, you ought to find great value in H.I.M.M. (I know, that’s awkward, too). The book is divided into 14 chapters in five parts, which I’ll paraphrase here:
1) The role of middle management
2) Performance planning and results management
3) Structure and time
4) Performance optimization and leadership
5) Fine tuning yourself
6) Appendix—not really a formal part of the book, but this section contains a wonderful selection of reference information.
In addition to solid advice from the field, the book contains liberal doses of lists, diagrams and personal anecdotes that all help structure the ideas the author is trying to convey. Also, our old management friend the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) makes frequent appearances throughout the book
I marked up the book pretty liberally, especially in later chapters. The author presents some great ideas for better management performance that really hit home for me. Among these were the H.I.M.M Playbook. Haneberg parallels management with sports and offers up a customized version of a management playbook (templates available at haneberg-management.com), which ought to be reviewed daily. I’ve been successful in getting my team to use a wiki on a regular basis, and it occurred to me that the playbook would be right at home there—this is a takeaway that I’ll be using immediately.
She also invents a new management phrase that’s sure to take the business world by storm: “mucky muck.” Mucky muck is exactly what it sounds like. All the junk that prevents managers from being effective or moving ahead. She outlines sixteen (!) variations of mucky muck to keep an eye on. The ones that hit closest to home for me were “undiscussables” “learned helplessness” and “contradictory information.” All of which you can probably understand just by their titles. She also offers up eleven techniques for navigating mucky muck. My favorites among these are #4: Over communicating, inclusion and follow-up; #9: Get organized; and #10: Lighten up!
Chapter eight offered a good beginners overview of the Theory of Constraints. Haneberg didn’t delve too deeply into TOC, but she did give it an appropriate amount of space in the book, considering its importance in modern management practice. And she gave a nice tip of the hat to Eli Goldratt along the way.
Chapter nine was most intimidating and challenging to me personally. This chapter went over time management and offered a very comprehensive format for a formal time audit. I’m afraid to even try filling this out, but I know I’ll reap rewards from doing so.
Chapter twelve and thirteen addressed the issues surrounding coaching others and being coached ourselves. This was probably the section of the book that I was personally least familiar with, so I greatly appreciated the insights, especially with respect to coaching others.
I was a little disappointed with the final chapter, which was titled Putting It All Together For Maximum Managerial Flow. While it adequately referenced the rest of the book and H.I.M.M. system, it just seemed too short and abrupt an ending (that’s probably a testament to the quality of information throughout the book). I would liked to have seen a more comprehensive outline of a “typical” manager’s week. Where the various bits of information would come into play as the manager moved throughout her day.
Overall, High Impact Middle Management is a great book. I’d recommend it to both new and experienced managers alike, since the contents are both broad and deep enough for both groups.
— a review by Bren, Slacker Manager.
I knew mucky muck was familiar to my baby piglet ears ”