Successful supervisors are life-long learners.
They look for ways to build and maintain skills. Books remain an important resource for new supervisors and seasoned ones who seek to get better.
Below are six books that every supervisor should read and have in their resource library. Some are very old so do not let their initial copyright dates scare you. All are still available, some only as used books.
Our top Recommendations:
The One Minute Manager
Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager, Berkley Books, NY, 1983, 111 pages.
Over 30 years ago this book was a runaway best seller. Is the material outdated? Nope! Is it relevant today? Yep!
The authors share three secrets to help you increase your effectiveness. They are:
One Minute Goals;
One Minute Praising; and
One Minute Reprimands.
They also tell you why these techniques work. The book is a fast and entertaining read and gives you, the first-line supervisor, three simple and understandable steps you can take your next day at work to be more successful.
Arm yourself with this practical knowledge and practice the techniques suggested.
How Full is Your Bucket?
Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, How Full is Your Bucket? Gallup Press, New York, NY, 2004, 127 pages.
This book is for all of us who have been around and experienced a negative boss, fellow-worker, customer or acquaintance. Compelling statistics are presented on how negativity reduces productivity, increases turnover, scares off customers and can even cause serious injury.
Five simple strategies are offered for increasing positive emotions in your work and personal life. As a first-line supervisor, you will be convinced how important it is for you to bring positive behavior and actions to your team and your customers. If we were tasked to create an entrance test for becoming a supervisor, there would be a number of key questions asked based on the facts and techniques presented in this easy to digest book.
As a supervisor, bring positive behavior and comments to your work team and environment. Those who interact with you will be glad you do.
First, Break All The Rules
Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. Simon and Schuster, New York, NY. 1999, 271 pages.
This book has relevance for all supervisory and management levels. It is a somewhat sophisticated read but should not scare you. It requires you to contemplate and stay attentive to understand the concepts presented.
One of its greatest values is providing any organization interested in its health a useful measuring stick and survey approach. It also provides some empirical evidence on the benefits of being a healthy organization and what 12 conditions need to exist to be one.
In addition, it focuses on the four things that great managers do:
select for talent;
define the right outcomes;
focus on strengths; and
find the right fit.
The information in this book also will help prepare new and seasoned first-line supervisors for assuming higher management positions if they want to be upward mobile.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People. Revised Edition. Pocket Books, New York, NY. 1981, 276 pages.
This classic was written in 1936, during the “Great Depression” before World War II. Since your people skills are essential to being a successful supervisor, the advice in this vintage resource still has great value.
Here are the four parts of the book that will make you smile as well as give you sage counsel:
Part One-Fundamental Techniques in Handling People;
Part Two-Six Ways to Get People to Like You;
Part Three-How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking; and
Part Four-Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment.
This is a must read to insure that you, as a new or seasoned first-line supervisor, give priority attention to the wide range of skills needed to get people to trust you, respect you, listen to you and follow your direction.
Listening, the Forgotten Skill
Madelyn Burley-Allen, Listening, the Forgotten Skill. John Wiley & Sons (2nd Edition), 1995, New York, NY. 194 pp.
This book allows you to learn how to be an active and effective listener. It is easy to understand and is organized so you can teach yourself.
It deals with such important topics as how you got to be the listener you are, what listening can do for you, the barriers to listening, how to get others to listen to you and other related topics. Each chapter has self-tests and the answers to the questions posed.
It is a must read for a supervisor who desires to significantly strengthen his or her communication skills.
Leader Effectiveness Training
Thomas Gordon, Leader Effectiveness Training, A Perigee book, The Berkley Publishing Group(Perigee), 1977,2001, New York, NY. 300 + pages.
This vintage text is full of simple but highly useful ideas. One of its key points is that you cannot be a leader without having group members and group members will accept your direction and influence only if you help them get their needs satisfied.
This emphasis on meeting needs, both the organization's and those of team members, is fully consistent with the Hughes Consulting philosophy that first-line supervisors are in the needs-meeting business.
Three chapters which should be must reading are:
Chapter 1-How You Can Become an Effective Leader
Chapter IV-Skills that Help Subordinates Solve Their Problems
Chapter IX-The No-lose Method: Turning Conflict into Cooperation.