Books or podcasts on how to be a good manager
March 31, 2021 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Following up on a previous question, I am looking for well-rounded advice on how to be a good supervisor. Can you please recommend books or podcasts that target new managers from a "ground up" perspective rather than the Ask A Manager style of answering unique questions?

I've been given more responsibility with suggestions that I will be promoted to a regional leadership role. But I feel like I am still acting like a a individual contributor. Some of my questions include:

How to set expectations and give feedback, without making things personal or being passive aggressive?

How to put the needs of the business first over the needs of my team, when it comes to attendance and performance issues?

How to communicate information in a way that is useful and interesting, instead of going on and on about things people don't care about?

How to hold people accountable to completing end-of-shift tasks when they are eager to get out the door?

How to balance "I wouldn't ask you to do something that I wouldn't do myself" with "I hired you so I wouldn't have to do that myself"

How to interpret Employee behavior - bad day vs. Bad performance

How to get employees to show up on time - when I struggle with that myself?

How to reward / reinforce / celebrate good behavior? How to keep track of what rewards work for which employees?

How to be more flexible with changes in daily work flow, without letting employee performance slip?

How to appear more calm, confident, and reserved, when inside my brain everything is more of a chaotic mess?

How to communicate that the rules can be bent but not broken? How to be flexible with safety rules, dress code, time clock, mask usage, etc?

And finally, how to keep my own mental health / anxiety from becoming an issue for my team?
posted by rebent to Work & Money (8 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Ask a Manager has a book about management that is not in the blog Q & A format: Managing to Change the World. It’s titled as though it were just for nonprofit managers, but it’s actually general. I’ve just started reading it myself at the moment.
posted by snowmentality at 6:29 AM on March 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

It doesn't cover all of your requirements, but it's a classic for a reason: High Output Management, by Andrew Grove.

Lots about building productive teams, managing individuals, and generally building something that works, from someone that did it to a very high level (Grove was one of the founders and eventually CEO at Intel). His way is not the only way, but there will definitely be things you can take even as you leave the rest.
posted by underclocked at 6:39 AM on March 31, 2021

Turn the Ship Around! by David Marquet isn't quite what you're looking for in that it's not a management primer, but the core concept of the book (intent-based leadership) is something I've found very useful as a framework for approaching how to get the best out of people when you're in a leadership role.

(As an aside, I seriously enjoyed how many of the blurb quotes and recommendations for this book basically boiled down to, "the bits about leadership were great, but I really enjoyed the bits about submarines!" Fortunately the book is still useful even to a reader with only limited interest in submarines.)

And finally, how to keep my own mental health / anxiety from becoming an issue for my team?

From my (admittedly somewhat limited, I've been managing a small team now for a couple of years) experience, there's a balance to be found between disclosing enough historical experience in this area that signals I'm a safe person to talk to if someone who works for me is struggling with their own mental health, but not going into any significant detail with my reports if I'm in the middle of a bad patch. I tend to lean into discussing work-related challenges that are sources of stress, but not really disclosing active symptoms, mainly because I don't want to freak my reports out, contribute to their own anxiety, or make it seem like my own role is impossibly stressful and I'm really struggling with it in ways that might cause them to take on my experiences as a personal concern.

I might discuss a stressful project or an interpersonal challenge with them, with maybe some detail on why it's stressful/challenging, as part of our regular catch ups, but I wouldn't go as far as describing specific events that cause me specific anxiety symptoms. On the rare occasions that I would go into detail on something like this, it tends to be more anchored in the past, e.g. "I used to get really nervous speaking to [super senior people] when I was in [job role that now reports to me] but it's been much better since I've worked with them longer and have had a chance to get to know them better" - stuff that's about my experiences in shoes similar to theirs in the past, but not about my experiences in my own shoes right now.
posted by terretu at 6:55 AM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’d definitely check out as well. They have some premium content, but also a ton of free stuff, including a podcast.
posted by itsamermaid at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2021

There’s a book called Radical Candor that has really good advice for giving honest but constructive feedback and holding one-to-ones, and has a lot of good management advice. It really hits home that not giving honest feedback can be as damaging as giving harsh feedback, which I particularly benefited from.

Lara Hogan has some good stuff, some of it is paid but she has some good articles that are free, again focused on feedback - she has some stuff from the past year that touches on managing during These Times that may help. She occasionally links to some good articles and resources on her Twitter as well.
posted by MartialParts at 7:08 AM on March 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding Managing to Change the World - I use it to mentor new managers (via book club) and constantly reference it for the frameworks on delegation, feedback, and more.
posted by soleiluna at 7:26 AM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I find that HBR (Harvard Business Review) has a lot of great content for this. I like their 10 must read series, particularly HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing People and HBR's 10 Must Reads for New Managers.
posted by amycup at 10:20 AM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoy the Leading Questions Podcast. It's very much a "two friends having a good time and also remembering to talk about the topic" podcast, but the hosts are both pretty empathetic and call out bad practices pretty frequently.
posted by revgeorge at 1:39 PM on April 2, 2021

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