A Proactive Approach to Better Business Management
Bob Gonet’s approach to proactive management builds the relationship between manager and employees through goal setting and one-on one-meetings. An executive coach and corporate trainer for I-empower-U, Gonet has a track record of increasing leadership effectiveness, sales and productivity through his coaching of over 3,000 professionals from CEOs to VPs to middle managers.
In this interview, Gonet talks about what a good manager does and about his approach to teaching.
Q: What is the best thing a manager starting out in the field can do to ensure success?
Bob Gonet: The best thing managers can do is to understand the real mission of the organization and make a plan to help in its accomplishment and get endorsement of the plan. From there, set goals for the employees in their area in alignment with the company’s mission. For example, if one area is to grow sales and another is to train employees, it’s clear that managers need to develop a plan to either grow sales, if that is in their area, or support the growth of sales in their organization. Also, they will need to develop plans to train the people who report to them in alignment with practices that will help to grow sales.
Q: There seem to be some not so great managers out there. Why do you think that is?
Gonet: In my experience, it’s because the managers haven’t been properly trained. They might have been high-performing soloists in their field and moved into a managerial role without any training. This happens a lot. Just because they are good in their field, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be good at managing people and the various personalities. Many managers are also often very reactive, rather than proactive. With proper training, one can learn to navigate the tricky interpersonal situations that arise in the workplace.
Q: Were any of them ever recommended to your courses for training? If so, how did you approach turning them around?
Gonet: Yes. Quite often. I’ve had many managers and aspiring managers come in who were not performing well or want to learn. I taught them core principles, such as spending quality time with their employees, setting specific goals and obtaining buy-in from their staff. I then show them how to assertively and tactfully holding their staff accountable in order to achieve the desired goals. Great emphases are also on the importance of holding regular one-on-one meetings to sustain progress, keep lines of communication open and to help consistently build and strengthen the working relationship.
Q: If someone finds they are working for not so great a manager, how can they help themselves?
Gonet: They can be proactive by asking for one-on-one meetings and putting forth goals to their manager to get buy-in and support.
Q: How can someone interviewing for a job spot a good manager?
Gonet: There are various ways to spot a good manager. The most obvious is how well prepared they are for the interview. How do they interact with you? What is their body language? Direct eye contact? Do they ask probing questions and listen without interruption? Do they do all the talking? Are they knowledgeable about the company/the industry? Do ask for an explanation of the manager’s management style. Ask what it looks like for someone to be successful in the role to which you are applying. How long have they been with the company? What has their turnover been? Ask how much time they spend one-on-one with employees? How do they like their job? If you are able to interview with the direct reports, ask about the manager’s style. Listen for what is said and not said.
Q: What do you get out of teaching management? What feedback have you received from participants?
Gonet: I love talking to people in different organizations and learning from the different struggles each faces. Teaching people in a car business is much different from teaching people in the nursing field. I learn from all of them. Watching people in class learn the techniques and practice them one-on-one is very rewarding because I know the learner is not just hearing me spout from a pulpit, they are getting hands on experience using their own personality and voice with materials garnered from real-world examples. It’s also great reading evaluations, but good management trainers should always know how they did. They should not have to read the evaluations to know how they did. All in all, the feedback has been that they really like the very practical role-playing. The participation and switching with different partners to learn by doing and practicing with the provided templates is key to their success with the training. People learn by doing, not by being preached to.
Q: What else can you tell me about what is important to being a good manager?
Gonet: I can’t stress enough to meet with your direct reports regularly one-on-one. Set goals with them and get their buy in, show them you care about their success. Know their talents and weaknesses. Expand their talents and minimize their weaknesses. Know the difference between being reactive and proactive. Take the initiative. And keep taking the initiative. Today’s managers are challenged with more technology than ever before, being asked to do more with less and find priority management is the order of the day. Simple practices in the good management of your people will go far in keeping a team productive and focused on the success of a company, while minimizing those challenges.
“The Art of Proactive Management: A Comprehensive One Day Management Training Program” will be taught on Friday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Career Source Career Center, 186 Alewife Brook Parkway, 3rd Floor, Cambridge. Cost is $129 ($119 through Sept. 23). For information or to register, visit www.pdcboston.org.
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