Increase your business acumen

How well do you understand your company's business?  For many roles, it isn't critical to know the ins and outs of the business model, marketing strategy, sales targets, etc., and you can get by without really understanding the larger context you're operating in.  However, if you want to be able to ensure your team's viability in the short term and advance your career in the long term, it's worth your while to brush up a little on what you don't know.  Understanding the business can help you in your career even if you don't plan to stay at this type of organization or even in this particular industry.  Having worked at a startup, federal and state government agencies, higher education, management consulting, and international development. I can attest to the commonalities across industries and company size.  

How To Manage An Employee Who's Older Than You

"I have kids your age" is not really something you want to hear from one of your direct reports.  However, as the workforce becomes less tenure-based and more results-based, this is going to become familiar to a lot of managers.  It might be tempting to just laugh it off, but if age keeps coming up in team conversations, it might be worth addressing the issue head-on.

Improve Your Delegation By Not Answering Questions

Some management pitfalls reflect a lack of skill, but this one ironically occurs more frequently the more experienced and skilled the manager is.  The problem?  Answering employee questions.  But wait, isn't that the job of a manager - to help employees carry out their work and give them the information they need to be successful?  Well, yes....and the way in which you do it matters a lot.  

Get More Done By Doing Fewer Things

The following approach will help you transition to a kanban model where you limit the number of projects that are active at any one time.  It will also give you a visual representation of the work that you can use to communicate with your boss about where a new "#1 super-important priority!!!" project fits into what's already on the list.  If nothing else, just having all your work documented in one place will be helpful in giving you a sense of accomplishment and focus.

What To Do When Your Employee Resists Doing Part of Their Job

Every job involves tasks that aren't our favorite things to do.  As the saying goes, there's a reason they have to pay you to do your job.  Once we gain more experience, the proportion of disagreeable tasks will hopefully diminish, but at the beginning stages of any line of work, there is usually a fair amount of "grunt work."  Employees who are in their first post-college job don't always expect this, especially if they haven't had much internship experience.  They lack the context to see why certain administrative tasks might be important, and they sometimes also don't see why higher-level employees couldn't do those tasks instead of them.  It can be helpful to question "the way things have always been done," but only to a point.  Sometimes, the work just needs to get done, and the reluctant employee just needs to do it.  But what about those times when an employee consistently tries to avoid doing disliked tasks, whether openly or surreptitiously?  Here are some questions to ask yourself and some options for you to consider in addressing this all-too-common management challenge.

3 Types of Meetings All Managers Need

Everyone hates meetings, so why and how do we end up with so many on our calendars?  The truth is that what everyone hates are unproductive meetings.  The format itself is not the problem.  In fact, there are certain things that are best handled with live, person-to-person communication, and meetings can help a team accelerate in a way that a chain of 20 e-mails just can't.  

They key isn't to get fewer meetings on your calendar, but to get more out of the necessary meetings you have.  (And maybe decline those that you really, really don't need to be involved in, so that you have more time for these.)  

Here's a list of the meetings that absolutely need to be on your calendar (even if it means missing other things), and how to make the most of them.