Management Tips
Tips for Fast, Smart Managers

by Mark Briers

   Do you have the right habits for modern success? Your habits should embrace fast, around-the-clock communication (e.g. cell phones and portable email), fast attention and action on customer concerns, and a relentless attention to the few things that make a particular business successful.

  • Negotiate in person.
    50% of e-mail negotiations end in impasse, while only 19% of face-to-face ones do.
       - Research by Professor Kathleen Valley at Harvard Business School and reported in Business Week
  • Make sure the first and last customer impressions are positive.
    Ensure customer satisfaction in the opening moments of a service interaction (e.g airport gate check-in) and the final moments (e.g. baggage pick-up) to optimize spending on customers.
       - Inspired by "Why Customers Matter," by Harvard Business School Professor W. Earl Sasser
  • You pay more for a gallon of water than a gallon of gas!
    A recent economic study found that people, while acting out of self interest in general, make poor financial decisions day-to-day. (i.e. are not skeptical about marketing claims, often overpay for goods.)
       - NPR report

       Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart." (Confucius)
  • Repeat yourself.
       Repeat your name and numbers twice when leaving a voicemail (allowing the mobile cell phone recipient, in modern times, to beg a writing tool from a stranger and find a scrap of paper!). Say: "This is John Smith at 800-555-1212. Again, this is John Smith at 800-555-1212."
  • Computers Are Gaining on Humans.
       Everyone knows that computers will never compose a symphony....but everyone may be wrong. Recent artificial intelligence systems have written credible short stories, composed convincing Mozart-like symphonies, drawn appealing pictures of people and landscapes, and conceived clever ideas for advertisements. - Steven Pinker, in his new book The Blank Slate.
  • Computer Tip: Copy Multiple Items before "Pasting."
       Your computer most likely has a "clipboard" which allows you to copy item "A" and then copy item "B" and then paste them both into a new document (e.g. new email). Neat tool, but you have to find the clipboard (under "Edit"/"Office Clipboard" in my version of Outlook).
  • A Different Job for Every Decade?
       Find the job that favors your age group! "The way to proceed {in academia} is to be a mathematician in the early 20's, then become a physicist in the late 20's, then switch to -- I think the profession that peaks in the 30's is biochemistry -- then in the 40's economics and 50's history. In your 80's you switch to classics."
       - Paul Ginsparg, theoretical physicist and MacArthur Grant recipient