Although I don’t really like reading books, I started in Behind Closed Doors of Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby. It really is not a book about management, but about working with people as a manager. Easy readable and for a slow reader as I am – especially with the distractions that I have while reading – my progress is reasonably fast.
The previous book I read so easily – and finished – is Peopleware by DeMarco, a classic in management books.
Both books are about people and working with people.
I have read the second chapter. It certainly is not my favorite – in other words – I don’t like it. It’s about matching roles and people. It assumes an amount of freedom to mix and match that – at least in my work environment – seldom exists.
The third chapter about building your team started familiar with jelling teams. I immediately felt the connection with Peopleware. It was convincing until the subject of feedback was touched. Especially ending the chapter with the option of firing someone ruins the whole atmosphere needed to build a team. Overall, I was left with a very disappointed feeling.
The chapter about managing day by day was about setting personal goals. A great deal of the people I encounter, especially bosses, talk about setting personal goals. “Where do you want to be in 5 years time?” or “What do you want to have finished by then end of the week?” It is a clear chapter (for those people) and may be an eye-opener for many. But for me, living to a goal has always been a struggle. I’d rather be focussed to a direction and a vision, instead of a goal.
The chapter about discovering lurking problems is not about discovering lurking problems. It’s about discovering the difference between an individual problem (for an individual person or an individual team) or a group problem that exceeds the scope of control of the individual (person or team). It is well written, from a practical angle rather than the theory. I liked it very much, as it appeals to many situation I encounter in my work.
Building capablities is the chapter I am still reading. This is one of my favorite chapters as it addresses the human side of management, such as trust and appreciation. I find it very interesting what makes people “tick” and how to really connect to people as individuals. I have not finished the chapter yet, but I think it may be the best chapter in the book.
It’s now one and a half months later than the previous update, and I finished the book. Looking back, I wasn’t thrilled about it as I hoped I would be. The style did not grab me like Peopleware did, and the secrets are nothing more than common sense in dealing with people, as a manager. To me it’s a no-buyer, but fortunately I got it for free.