This slim book by a former supervisor in supply chain management highlights challenges managers face and offers practical advice. Throughout, the author offers personal anecdotes meant to engage and illuminate real-world problems.
The book is broken into eight chapters, often with conversational titles, such as “From Cocky Upstart to Frightened Manager!” to “Now Get on and Do it” and “It’s OK to Be Friends—Even Friendly.” Drawing on 20 years of management experience, author Steve Holt discusses subjects such as performance reviews, helping employees succeed, and being friendly with co-workers.
Highlights include the author’s solid advice that no one management style will work for all employees and his brief discussion about the common problem of an “us versus them” mindset between managers and employees. (Readers will enjoy a funny anecdote about a manager in a hot air balloon trying to get help from an engineer below, both frustrated by each other’s impossible mindsets.)
Overall, however, the narrative skims over ideas, giving it a scattered and disorganized feeling. Sometimes, the advice offered can even be puzzling. For example, when discussing how friendly managers should be with subordinates, Holt mentions one manager who allowed employees to run errands at lunchtime without chastising them if they were a little late getting back. This backfired, however, as employees saw this as “soft…so he had no control or influence over his work force.” Confusingly, the author then seems to advise readers to take that very approach: “Allow your people a little bit of flexibility and don’t be over zealous [sic] with the constraints.”
At less than 40 pages, the book hits on many important ideas, but doesn’t fully explore any of them. The author also often fails to show how the problems and corresponding solutions mentioned are applicable in many different management settings.
Ultimately, the book is too brief to do justice to the topics it introduces. Editing for more clarity and rewriting for greater thoroughness would improve this offering.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.