Moxie for Managers - Ann Tardy

So many people end up in a manager position without ever learning how to LEAD people. Yes, they might know how to set a budget and fill out a time sheet. But a key trait a manager needs to know is how to motivate and encourage the people in their team to succeed. Tardy's book, Moxie for Mangaers, focuses on helping a manager learn these critical skills.

She explains that people, for the most part, fear rejection. They want control over their lives and flexibility. They feel the world revolves around them. Rather than argue about why these things are, the best thing a manager can do is to understand it, and work with it.

Yes, managers are busy. Every person is busy! Being busy is simply a way of life in our modern times. Even though we ARE busy, a manager should still invest time in listening to the people around them. Focus on being *productive* with the time available. If a person seeks attention, pay attention to that. If you don't, they might move on to an even less pleasant way of seeking attention. You aren't going to convince them they don't want attention. What you CAN do is fill that need in a way that is healthy.

Some people get trained by life or their parents to create drama to get attention. You can't fix that. But you can be responsible for your communication, and your counter-training. Give them new ways to shine. Tell personal stories to connect with them. Make your expectations clear.

It's critical to constantly tune what you do. Pilots constantly adjust their course, just as astronauts do. Get healthy feedback, and keep readjusting your techniques. In the same way, give them feedback. Make sure it is about what they DO and not about them. Use phrasing such as "I've noticed xxxx and the problem it causes is yyyyy". Comment on the report, not on their writing skills. Make sure you give ample positive feedback and that corrections are only a small part of it.

People rise to high expectations. Studies show that if teachers are told that students are gifted, those students then thrive. People often make up stories about why their life is a certain way and then they only "see" the confirmations of it. Help them write a new story. If they're procrastinating, don't assume they're doing it to be stubborn. In most cases they're doing it out of fear. Help them move past it. Celebrate their efforts, even if they don't work out well. Break those mountains into molehills and start with small steps.

Of course, much of this has been said in may other leadership books, but sometimes a fresh telling is what happens to connect with a reader. We all relate to different styles of writing, and different authors. If this author gets through to someone who didn't quite "get" the message before, then that is great.

This book certainly isn't perfect. I had resistance right from the beginning, where Tardy lambasts a company for the outrage of setting up a lactation room for new mothers. Surely there are many other far more egregious examples to use for a company that is out of touch! She boasts that when her grandmother fell outside the workplace that her co-workers immediately wanted to move her INJURED BODY across the street so they could claim their workplace was accident free. Great, so they wanted to lie and risk injury to her grandmother, all for a statistic? Surely the more ethical solution would be for them to properly report the injury and then take steps to make sure nobody fell in that area again. She complains that "The Secret is a bunch of gibberish". Is there really a reason to trash other people's writing in order to make your own seem more secure?

Some parts of the book upset me even more. At one point she says "Similarly, if peple are poor, they are committed to being poor." Her claim is that people can simply "want" to be wealthy and therefore become that way. However, many people are born into disastrous poverty. There are large groups of people in the Philippines who literally live in trash heaps. Not too long ago 300 people were killed there when a towering pile of trash collapsed on a group of them. It's easy for wealthy people in the US to say "Oh you simply work hard and you achieve wealth". That simply is not always possible. For some people they can slave every waking hour every day and still never have an opportunity to progress.

Similarly, she says that naysayers are floundering or stuck. But it could be they're naysaying for a valid reason. Maybe what YOU are requesting is outrageous. It doesn't make sense to knee-jerk say "They don't agree - therefore they are wrong". Someone who is always refusing to do what you ask could be giving you quite important feedback that you need to change what you're doing.

So definitely take this book with a grain or two of salt. Think critically about what it's saying. But there's a lot of good advice here, and we can all use some polishing in how we approach life.

Rating: 4/5

I was sent a free copy of this book to review.

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