I picked up How to Become a Great Boss, by Jeffrey J. Fox as a reference book for my first paper this semester. Turns out it is pretty readable with short, illustrative vignettes.
One memorable moment came with “Don’t Check Expense Accounts”. Last month, my boss happened to be in town as I was completing an expense report, so I asked him to sign it while he was there. He signed it and handed it back to me. I hassled him – said that he should review it first. He refused. I didn’t ask if it was that he didn’t bother to review mine or if he didn’t bother to review them in general.
So when I read in this book that we as managers are to trust our people’s expense reports, I started to groan. The logic is that if people are cheating on them, Accounting will figure it out and we will have to fire them. Our job is to communicate what is allowed and not allowed, so that “misuse”, which is a less dastardly offense than outright cheating, doesn’t happen. Apparently, we ought to run occasional “audits” to be sure of that.
So my boss was back in town and I said, “I learned something in school..you were right and I was wrong.” He told me to circle the date on the calendar. When I told him the story, he confessed that he wasn’t actually aware that was a “good boss” thing.
Anyway. There were two other pieces I found interesting:
“7s Hire 5s.” The idea here is that we had better hire the best people. Because if we hire mediocre people, they will hire less than mediocre people because mediocre people are intimidated by high achieving people.
“Spend 90% of Your Time with Your Best People” pointed out that sometimes we spend huge amounts of time with mediocre people, trying to get them to be great. The book suggests that they are not going to become great because we push them. They will become great if they really want to do so. We should spend the bulk of our time with our great people because it is a better investment.
This isn’t the best management book ever, but it is a quick and interesting read that gave me a couple of things to think about. And a couple of quotes to cite in class. Two thumbs up.