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Submitted by Jay_Parkes on


Dear Mark and Mike,

     I’ve been a regular listener to both Manager Tools and Career Tools for years now, and I wanted to thank you for all of the practical advice. Since I’m a professor in a College of Education, I find that your tools and tips transfer into academe much better than many – including some of my colleagues! – might predict. Your philosophy behind your tools, especially, has transferred directly for me and has been invaluable. Let me tell you about a couple of my successes:
     I’ve used the Meeting Introduction Tool now twice with groups of faculty and administrators. They love it! What I’ve found most interesting after each time I’ve used it is it’s the Deans or other administrators who have asked me where I got it and for permission to use it. Of course, I told them to check out Manager Tools.
      I’ve got several doctoral students whom I advise, and I’ve adapted one-on-ones for them. Though you eschew adaptations of your techniques, I took the “communication bucket” notion, relaxed the structure a bit and meet with each one every two weeks. I relaxed the structure because, with dissertation students, I have somewhat of an inverse circumstance to a corporate manager. These folks are working on their own projects and need my help and advice rather than them working on a corporate-mandated project that I oversee. So they’re in charge. They have responded enthusiastically to regular meetings with me both in terms of the attitudes about it and in terms of their productivity. I also, as you would have predicted, benefit from being much better informed about each of those projects.
     I also advise them all to be listening to you, especially to Career Tools. I point them particularly to your reference management podcast because it adapts quite well to academe.
     Finally, the bit of your philosophy that has bolstered me personally the most is the “do what is effective, regardless of how you feel about it.” Given the autonomy that professors enjoy and the way that can be abused, I wish more of my colleagues understood that.
     Thank you for all your work! It makes a daily difference in my work life, even in a College of Education!

jaleraas's picture

I absolutely agree that the product Mark and Mike have put together is fabulous.  I had wondered how many people from academia used Manager Tools.  I'm a librarian by trade and am pursuing a doctorate degree (EdD).  As far as tools are concerned, I've been most enamored with the podcasts on coaching; however, I haven't had the opportunity to implement anything on a wide scale yet. 


mauzenne's picture
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Thanks, abqeagle.  Thrilled to to hear that Manager Tools is being effective for you ... even in education!  :-) 


rbanks88's picture

I've been following MT for a couple of years now, and manager of marketing at a large community college (Portland, Oregon). We're a pretty well-run organization, but most meetings are deadly! MT's been great in working with my staff (creative, overloaded, and passionate), especially the O3s.

I recommend MT whenever I can.

linhath2022's picture

As the owner of an early care and education center, I've always been challenged to find, scratch that, make the time for frequent feedback to my  staff of six preschool teachers.  Most feedback models out there aren't the right fit for our culture and the very necessary requirement of the teachers remaining with the children makes scheduling regular feedback very difficult.  I discovered MT several over the summer & have begun the process of integrating MT into our program.  With a little creativity on teachers' schedules, we carved out time to start the O3s.

The MT O3 format has started a very positive change in my teachers' performance as well as my performance.  They feel more valued, their self-perceived and actual professionalism has increased, and the individual technical assistance on issues that deeply concern them (implementing new curriculum & assessment, connecting with parents & co-workers, and retelling children's successes & challenges) has enabled the quality of their practice and of the overall program to explode!  And I discovered that I hadn't been challenging them enough, so several projects & many tasks have been passed along to them - enabling me to utlize my time and effort to the best use. 

In addition, the meeting podcasts have transformed our monthly staff meetings from 2 hours of processing and grand plans that never produced results, to 1 hour where everyone concisely contributes & applies the "who does what by when" mantra to all discussion topics.  (We also integrate projects within the children's curriculum - last week I observed a teacher apply some of MTwith her class as they signed up for tasks and created timelines for the creation of their in-house "supermarket" play area that they were planning!  You'd love to hear 4-year-olds chant "who does what by when?!")

So thanks for all the podcasts - you're improving education sectors & non-technical fields that you probably didn't anticipate!

gm62's picture
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I am a manager at a contract R&D arm at a major Engineering University in the US. I am new to management and have been trying to introduce the MT thoughts into our work. However, I am getting a fair amount of pushback and resistence. The main compaint is the O3 - everyone feels that the nature of our jobs does not require weekly meetings. I feel that the constant interaction forces us to stay on top of things, but they feel like we talk anyway.

I am beginning to wonder if weekly O3 meetings is too often for this type of work - R&D. What do others think?


refbruce's picture

I worked in corporate R&D for 18 years, now work in US National Laboratory, and have a joint appointment at a university.  My opinion is that some adaptation is needed for most environments, but keep the goals in mind.  My thought and understanding is that O3's are about developing high quality relationships with the people who work "for" you.  But they can, and do, work in an R&D environment.  I've also gotten the pushback on "we talk anyway".  What helps is that putting the structure of O3 in place helps to focus the random conversations.  I still do get up off my behind and go talk to people (and encourage the same in my staff & students), but the O3 helps to push less time-critical conversations off to a dedicated time block, which reduces the continuous partial attention issue.  And we often find connections between those subjects over the course of the O3.  I did not find the weekly O3 to be as effective as I'd like, so I backed off on frequency, but am thinking about how to change that.  It may be that what I need is bit of team organization, I do O3's weekly with the key direct reports and delegate some supervisory responsibility to those who can handle it.

Different types of people require different types of approaches, and managing (coaching, developing, herding) researchers is no exception.  And by different types of approaches, I'm referring to understanding where they are (behavior styles) and where they need to get to.  It also requires a combination of confidence in yourself as the leader combined with a servant heart.  But I think that's true of any manager. 

jhack's picture

I'm in R&D in industry, not academe, and O3's are a critical part of managing creative and hard working folks.  

Yes, we talk about work during the week.  Understanding someone's career goals, personal interests, and style helps guide folks onto the right projects, at the right time.   It helps in choosing who's right to lead the next one.   The O3 is how we get into topics that go beyond the current projects. 

John Hack

PhilipR's picture

I don't know if bumping "necrothreads" is frowned upon on this forum, but assuming it's not, I wanted to chime in because I think a lot about how to apply MT/CT advice in an academic setting. I would love to discuss this with others.

I also posted a question on Stack Exchange seeking similar, but more academic-oriented, podcasts. So far I haven't come up with anything.