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Margaret Twelves

Margaret Twelves

Margaret has worked in business communications in the UK and South East Asia. She loves working with young managers who have great drive and energy.

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The Young Manager Handbooks

Practical Guides for Difficult Communications in Business

Each book in the Young Manager Handbook series deals with one single issue in management communications. The books offer practical, accessible solutions for difficult conversations.

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Business Management
United Kingdom
16,000 words
50% complete
3 publishers interested

Synopsis

    THE BACKGROUND

    There is a market for micro-communications skills handbooks for millennial managers.

    Millennial Managers are amazing. Their energy, work ethic, creativity and client-focus are why so many of them have been recognised by organisations from Silicon Valley to the White House and moved into management positions. They are recognised as the least difficult to work with, the best team players, the most flexible and most collaborative of generations surveyed, and yet they are the least likely to receive management training from their organisation (Deloitte 2016 – see ‘Audience’).

    It’s often assumed by organisations that simply being a top sales star will make that person into the perfect marketing director, or being a star teacher will translate into being a gifted school principal, and although those skills might look like a great fit, they should not be seen as the whole picture.

    How many organisations put in the effort to train their new young managers? Not nearly enough, with the result that many young managers struggle with the behavioural step up that comes with the move into management.

    Becoming a manager completely changes the dynamics of work. Instead of an intense focus on an individual contribution, new managers have responsibility for the careers of others. They have to make time for the team; planning, coaching, facilitating, problem solving, handling conflict, having difficult conversations and often doing all of this without much input or support from their organisations.

    For a new manager one of the hardest aspects of the job to deal with is the sudden isolation. When they have a difficult communication issue to handle they can't discuss it with their former colleagues. The team will rightly think that it's the manager's problem, not theirs and that they want a manager who leads and motivates them, not vice versa. At the same time, senior managers are most often not at all helpful. They regard these matters as a learning curve and only want to see the results the young manager delivers.

    Modern businesses come in many forms, from Facebook’s jeans and t-shirts culture with an artist in residence and free beer, to Virgin’s rock music and flowers, to the formality of industrial giants, to companies with fewer than 50 employees, but the same communications skills are needed everywhere.

    THE BOOK SERIES SYNOPSIS

     This proposed series of Young Manager Handbooks is designed to address difficult communication problems one by one.

    Each handbook addresses just one topic so young managers can go directly to ideas, suggestions and short case studies to help clarify their thinking.

    Millennial Managers would begin by reading one title and go on to collect the set.

    The series will comprise the following library of twenty titles.

    Handbooks currently in development:

    1. Giving feedback and handling appraisals

    2. Working across different cultures

    3. Inter-generational management and motivation

    4. Managing expectations and learning how to say no

    5. Building trust: Seeing yourself as your colleagues see you

    6. Edit your work life, why more is not always better

    7. Having difficult conversations

    8. Using small talk and networking

    9.  What are the real roles of a modern manager?

    10. Power and influence, which is better?

    11. Problem solving in teams

    12. Making effective points in meetings

    13. Building a great team and the roles people play

    14. Dealing with conflict in the workplace

    15.  Job Interviews - how to sell yourself to an employer

    16.  Job Interviews - how to recruit the people you need

    17.  Setting boundaries. Keeping sexism out of the workplace

    18.  Building a great presentation. Know your pitch

    19.  Achieving work balance — your individual and management roles

    20.  Bouncing back — motivating a tired team


    Outline

    These handbooks will all follow a house style for length and structure, making them build easily into a collection.

    Each handbook will be approximately 100 pages. The intention is that each book could be read in a weekend, or even an evening so they aren't padded with surplus information.

    Chapters 1 - 12:  Feedback and Appraisal

    1. Why appraisals strike fear into the hearts of managers and employees:

           Case studies — how could these appraisals be improved?

    2. Knowing yourself. What are your own strengths and weaknesses as a team member.

    3. Knowing your team. What are the 'allowable' strengths and weaknesses of the different team roles.

    4. Building a shared goal. Contextualising feedback

    5. Developing a feedback system that isn’t linked to pay rewards. Making feedback useful

    6. The Performance Management Revolution. Moving to ‘agile’ management.

    7. Motivating and coaching rather than looking back at weakness. Informal check-ins. Are they as effective as formal meetings?

    8. Target your feedback:

    ·      Feeding back to a difficult team member

    ·      Feeding back to an under-performer

    ·      Feeding back to the overconfident ‘star’

    ·      Feeding back to the worriers

    9.  Knowing and avoiding your own biases. It’s not personal.

    10.Simplify your criteria, making it clear and transparent.

    11.  Building feedback, motivating and coaching into your work life

    12.  The exit door. If someone has to go, protect the company from any claim.


    Audience

    Millennial Managers Worldwide.

    All around the world as baby boomers retire and the business world finds itself in a continual state of innovation to survive, high achieving millennials are moving into management positions.

    Young managers have fearless role models. They look at Mark Zuckerberg, at Sergey Brin and see no boundaries to success. They have skills in abundance. They welcome change, they understand continuous improvement, they are flexible and receptive to feedback and they all stumble on the same communications problems, whether they are in Beijing, Sao Paolo or London.

    This audience like training. Unlike the baby boomers the majority of young managers have funded their training themselves, and, just as importantly, have ongoing expectations of training. In the absence of training from their organisations they look elsewhere for guides to improvement.

    These handbooks are targeted at millennials who are moving into their first management roles.

    In the business world one sometimes comes across traits which seem to be counterintuitive. One of these is that the majority of management and leadership training is still focussed on the age range of 42+, although increasingly new people coming into management are below that age. The report by the MSL Group “The Millennial Compass”, revealed that already 78% of managers in China and 75% of managers in India are aged under 40.

    In 2016 Deloitte conducted their International Millennial Survey “Winning Over The Next Generation Of Leaders” in which they interviewed 7,692 millennials in management in 29 countries in both developed and emerging markets and found that 62% of respondents reported having no training whatsoever to prepare them for the move from co-worker to manager.

    Surveys conducted by Deloitte (2016) and Ernst & Young (EY 2013) point to the same conclusions. Between 2008 and 2013 the shift in uptake of management positions by millennials has shifted tremendously as follows:

    1.       There are currently 40 million millennials in the workplace.

    2.       15% of millennials are already in management roles.

    3.       By 2020 over half the global workforce will be millennials

    4.       62% say they have had no leadership skills training, rising to 70% in Brazil and SE Asia

    5.       Millennials are the most educated generations in history with 79% having a Bachelor’ degree, and yet that degree, even though a largely self-funded investment, counts for almost nothing. It is regarded as a baseline and confers no greater salary, prospects or security. (Deloitte 2016)

      A 2017 survey by the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai “Bamboo Ceilings and Sticky Floors” showed a significant shift between 2012 to 2016 in the skills most valued by employers from Technical Expertise and Experience to Adaptability and Communications Skills

    And in the most detailed survey of 19,000 millennials globally (Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision - ManpowerGroup)   the following data is relevant:

    ·       62% don't fear unemployment and think they would be re-employed in under three months if they lost their job.

    ·       70% or higher of millennials are confident about their career prospects

    ·       27% see a long-term job as important. “It’s the journey, not the job”

    ·        73% work more than 40 hrs/week, 26% work 2 jobs. They work hard

    ·      80% identify opportunity to learn new skills as a reason to change jobs.

    ·      93% identify with lifelong learning, and are willing to invest their own time and money in training.

    ·      80% identify purpose and social responsibility as priorities in jobs

     In 2016 23 million people signed up for a MOOC (massive open online course), bringing the total number to have studied this way since they began in 2011 to over 58 million. Almost 700 universities now offer more than 6800 courses and in 2016 25% of new MOOC students were in Asia and Latin America. People sign up for these courses for good reasons. They are relatively inexpensive and add greatly to a c.v.

    A breakdown by sector of MOOC courses offered in 2016 showed that the largest sectors by far were Business and Management Studies (19.3%) and Computer Science and Programming (17.4%)

    What’s the missing factor? Communication skills! It’s true that in among the Business Studies courses offered by some universities there are communications skills, mostly in business writing, but this only serves to demonstrate the huge market for short, simple training targeted to micro skills.

    A survey in late 2017 showed that the majority of MOOC trainees were self-funded (only 5% were employer funded) and over half of those had not even told their employers that they were studying. They had such low expectations of organisational interest. This also reinforces the idea that young managers are more than willing to take responsibility for their development and are hungry for information.

    These Young Manager Handbooks fill a gap in the market by covering micro communications skills not readily available elsewhere. They are short but not simplistic and in covering one single topic per book they ensure a crisp focus. A manager could absorb a book easily over a weekend and be able to connect the information to their situation


    Author

    Oxford Training Solutions is the coaching organisation of Margaret Twelves. 

    Margaret has worked in business communications in many countries, spending many years in Asia writing and delivering business communications programmes to companies and NGOs, including Singapore Airlines, PWC and Toyota. Her main professional interest is in effective communication. 

    Since returning to the UK she has been engaged in coaching for business people and realised that the problem people seem to struggle with the most is delivering a clear message, especially when that message is unwelcome. 

    These are easily coachable skills which make a huge difference to a manager’s confidence.

    Promotion

    Promotion via:

    1.  Linkedin
    2. Booklaunch.co (https://booklaunch.io/margarettwelves/young-manager-handbooks)
    3. Facebook page (The Young Manager Handbooks)
    4. Website: www.oxfordtrainingsolutions.com
    5. Twitter: @OXFSolutions
    6. Email lists

    Competition

     Currently the market for skills based business books fall into two streams. Very simplified (e.g., the HBR 20-Minute Manager series, or the CCL books, which average 30 pages), or textbook-style books which attempt to cover all aspects of management. The best current guides are the HBR Guide to... Series, which retail at around £20.00 and comprise edited collections of articles from the HBR website and magazine. There is space in the market for micro courses with an emphasis on practicality which could be supported by online resources.

    1.Feedback in Performance Reviews

    Author: Wayne Hart

    Publisher:CCL Press

    Price: $15.99

    Book Length: 32 pages

    Year Published: 2011

    ISBN: 978-1-6024911145

    Comments: Very short, not much depth. One of several titles on appraisal by same publisher/author

    Comparison: The Young Manager Handbook offers some insight into team dynamics to help tailor feedback appropriately

    2. Feedback and Appraisal

    Author: Clive Fletcher

    Publisher:Routledge

    Price: £36.55

    Book Length: 232 pages

    Year Published: 2007

    ISBN-10: 0415 446 91013

    Comments: Intended for HR managers

     Comparison: The Young Manager Handbook offers more accessible, practical help for untrained managers

    3.Performance Appraisal for Dummies

    Author: LLoyd

    Publisher:Wiley

    Price: £12.12

    Book Length: 360 pages

    Year Published: 2009

    ISBN-10: 0470498722

    Comments: phrases and templates for conducting appraisals

    Comparison: The Young Manager Handbook offers more empathetic approach to motivational feedback

    4. Performance Reviews

    Author: HBR 20-Minute Manager

    Publisher: HBR

    Price: £7.99

    Book Length: 130 pages

    Year Published: 2015

    ISBN-10: 1633690067

    Comments: too simplistic. Very brief guide to setting the tone and examples of types of review

    Comparison: The Young Manager Handbook offers more focus on motivating and promoting teamwork 

    5. The First Time Manager

    Author: Loren Belker

    Publisher:Amacon

    Price: £13.99

    Book Length: 240 pages

    Year Published: first published 1979. 2012 – 6th edition

    ISBN-10: 0814417833

    Comments: best selling guide for first time managers. 200,000 copies sold.

    Comment: Covers all aspects of management.

    Comparison: The Young Manager Handbooks each offer an accessible guide for a new manager to focus easily on their current problem

     


     

     

    Sample

    THE YOUNG MANAGER

    HANDBOOKS VOL.1.

    FEEDBACK AND APPRAISAL

    CHAPTER ONE:

    Why Appraisals are Dreaded

    In the long-running TV series "The West Wing" there is a scene where the President, Josiah Bartlet, is about to fly off to take part in  a televised debate in his re-election campaign. His Chief-of-Staff, Leo McGarry, sees him off, and his parting words to the president are "There's nothing you can do that's not gonna make me proud of you". In response the President beams with delight. 

    The message of the scene is that motivation is key to a successful outcome. Not many jobs come with the daily performance rating and appraisal that a president gets, often savagely, but what really makes people perform well is paying it forward, motivating and coaching. 

    Appraising work and handling feedback should, in an ideal world, be accomplished  areas of day to day management, and always include motivation.

    This is rarely the case. Even in an open, cheerful productive team environment the words “let’s do your appraisal this afternoon” can strike fear into the hearts of both the appraiser and appraisee. 

    But why should this be? In theory everyone likes feedback, everyone likes to know where they stand and everyone has feedback to give, on how the organisation is helping or not helping them in their job and career.

    One of the immediate problems is the confrontational formality of the old annual review, quite different from the normal business environment, where suddenly appraiser and appraisee are not members of the same team, sharing the same goals, but on opposite sides, one in control, the other passive and subjected.

    This is not at all how it should be, yet in a surprising number of cases appraisals are still stressful, potentially hostile and unnecessary. 

    Case Study 1

    This story may not be the worst appraisal on record but it must rank among them. When I began coaching Martin C  the memory of an old appraisal still frustrated and angered him ten years after the event, and had affected his relationships with senior management adversely for all those years.

    Ten years earlier Martin had been a Director of Operations in a rapidly growing travel company. The marketing teams of the organisation were tremendous and more and more work was being generated each month. This placed huge stress on Martin as in addition to managing his large team of staff across multiple sites he had to constantly recruit and induct more people to keep pace with the company’s rapid growth, and manage the logistical upgrades demanded by the corporate growth. Although Martin had been working a 6-day week, 10-hours a day for the past year he had been happy to do it as the work was always interesting and all the staff were fun to work with and equally committed.

    One Friday afternoon Martin was working on an urgent training program which had to be delivered to new recruits the following morning. 

    Mid-afternoon the  business owner, who was also the MD, called him to come to his office.  The MD was tense and jumpy and announced that as he had a couple of hours spare he was going to do Martin’s annual appraisal. Martin was appalled. He had no notice of the meeting, he was super busy himself and from the edginess and tone he heard in the MDs voice he had reason to fear the worst.

    Martin was right to be worried.  The MD announced that he didn’t want to hear any interruptions. This was not something he enjoyed and the only way he could get through it was to just forge ahead and leave any questions to the end. What followed was two hours of relentless criticism. The MD had a notebook in which he had noted everything Martin had done which displeased him over the past year. These ranged from being slow to complete his budget preparation to lack of vision, to comments Martin had made in staff meetings which the MD felt were not supportive of the company. There was not one positive word for any of the work he had done. 

    It was devastating. Martin felt that any of these issues should have been addressed at the time and in any case were all the result of the massive expansion of the business and the volume of work he had on his desk, but was given no opportunity to speak up. At the end of the two-hour meeting the MD announced that he was ending the meeting without giving time to hear Martin’s response. He told Martin he could sense that he was angry and he needed time to cool off.

    The relationship between Martin and the MD never recovered and within two months Martin had left the company.

    When I began coaching with Martin it was because his eroded trust in all senior management was affecting his ability to work to his best potential. It took a long time for him to accept that perhaps the incredibly insensitive MD actually had some serious points to make and that Martin did need to look at his attitude. By unquestioningly accepting an enormously stressful workload he had, without realising it, made himself into a victim and had let his resentment of the situation show in comments to staff and negativity towards the MD. Martin had not recognised this in himself, had never asked for help, had never told the MD that the workload was too high and had convinced himself that he was there ‘for the staff’. Eventually Martin came to see how he must have appeared to his MD.

    The MD had been disastrously at fault. He had never mentioned any performance or attitude issues until the fateful meeting, not realising that his role demanded that he look after the welfare of his managers, and had been storing up his own anger in the form of his notebook of grievances for a year, waiting to conduct an annual appraisal. This sad little story illustrates the potential horrors of annual appraisals and points dramatically for the need for change.

    This young and expanding company which Martin worked for had no centralised policy on giving feedback and appraisals, but companies which have very clearly thought out policies can still find the format of traditional end-of-year performance appraisal has serious limitations.

    The multinational accountancy firm of Deloitte has abandoned their complex annual review system.

    They took the review process very seriously. Objectives were set for each employee at the start of the year. During the annual review employees were rated on how closely they had met their objectives. The appraiser would add comments on where the employee had or had not excelled. These appraisals were then sent for review by committee before being issued to the employee, along with revised targets for the following year. 

    When Deloitte commissioned a major review of their Performance Management system they identified three principal problems.

    1 Once a year assessment did not fit well with project based team work

    2 Looking back at how an employee measured up to objectives set a year ago didn’t provide scope for assessing qualities like initiative and dynamic thinking which are qualities essential to competitive business.

    3 In a qualitative study of assessments produced by 5000 managers they found a variance of 62% in rates awarded as a result of appraisers preferences.

    The death knell for their appraisal system was the fact revealed in the analysis that the cost to Deloitte of conducting this extremely complex and time consuming performance appraisal system was approximately 2 million hours per year!

    This book is not about reinventing whatever performance appraisal system exists in your company, but in helping you make the best choices in how and when to deliver feedback, keeping in mind the needs of the organisation and of the team and individual employee, and to give you some guidance on the difficult cases you many be faced with.

    Let’s start with a few questions.

    Within the actual appraisal, how could Martin’s MD have dealt differently with what he saw as problems with Martin’s work so that a positive outcome resulted?

    • …………………………………………………………….……………………………

    • ………………………………….………………………………………………………

    • …………………………………….……………………………………………………

    How could Martin have dealt with the criticisms raised by the MD within the annual appraisal?

    • ………………………..………………………………………………………………

    • ………………………..………………………………………………………………

    • ……………………..…………………………………………………………………

    On the next page you are going to read a case study of a problematic appraisal.

    After reading, think about how you might deal with this situation. We will return to the problem later in the book.

    CASE STUDY 2

    Read through this situation and think about how you could handle this problem. 

    A few years ago I received a very anxious early morning call from a client, Maria, who worked for a multinational scientific instrument manufacturer.

    Maria had been promoted to the Head of Purchasing management position six months earlier when the previous manager had retired after 30 years in the job. Maria was 26 years old and keen for advancement.

    All the client orders came to Maria’s division to be fulfilled and parts were sourced from the company’s manufacturing sites in the USA, UK, Germany and India. The technical specifications were very complex, the liaison with the semi-autonomous manufacturing sites was far from straightforward and many clients were irate because lead times on deliveries were unreliable, especially from the US factory. 

    Maria had been told that getting the purchasing overhauled was her main priority.

    Maria had to rely enormously on her PA, who had worked with the previous manager for over 20 years and held all the information on the many thousands of products and parts; the manufacturing sites, the clients’ histories. After all these years she held much of the information in her head so could answer in 5 minutes a question that would take Maria most of a morning to resolve from files and phone calls.

    The reason for the early morning phone call to me was that Maria was scheduled that day to do the annual performance appraisal with her PA. There seemed to be no scheduled system in place but she had been called the week before by the VP of HR to say the PA’s review was overdue and they needed it for budgeting the following year’s salaries. 

    Maria’s problem was that although this PA was almost indispensable, she was finding her very difficult to work with. The PA did not appear to either like or respect her, and although many people visiting the office told her, in front of the PA, how lucky she was to have her, that she was ‘a treasure’, it didn’t seem that way to Maria. In short, she was intimidated by her, and terrified that if she made her feelings clear in the appraisal the PA would quit.

    I advised her to reschedule the appraisal for a few days so that we could work on ways of handling the situation.

    What options do you think Maria has in this situation?

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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    What are the implications for the company of these options?

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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    How should Maria go about this difficult appraisal?

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    3 publishers interested
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    The author hasn't added any updates, yet.

    • Lucy Gibbs on March 5, 2018, 10:52 p.m.

      So excited for this series.

    • Serge Ballestraz on March 26, 2018, 11:18 a.m.

      looking forward reading you ! Best regards Serge

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