Book Review – Pocket Mentor: Managing Teams

Managing TeamsHarvard Business Review’s (HBR) Pocket Mentor series provides pocket sized books on various topics for management and leadership. Overall there are aout 40 books in the series covering topics such as, coaching people, creating a business plan, delegating work and leading people

Over the next couple of weeks I will be reviewing ten of these books so get ready. The first one I’m reviewing in this post is titled, Managing Teams. This book written by Anne Donnellon is a mini 91 paged book with quick tools and tips around managing teams. As it is with the pocket mentor series, the book doesn’t have chapters, but rather topics which provide quick content that is easy to grasp and I believe apply. Tere is no in depth or mind bending stuff here, just simple information that you can start using.

The book  is divided into two parts, which are the reading or learning content and a section called Tips and Tools, that consists of questionnaires, a test with answers and suggested resources to learn more about the topic.

The first part of the book titled, Managing Teams: The basics, covers how to keep your team on track and eight obstacles of managing a team effectively. Each obstacle discusses what the obstacle is and how to overcome it. The obstacles are:

  • lack of team identity
  • low participation
  • poor communication
  • ineffective team leadership
  • destructive conflict
  • group think
  • absence of creativity
  • ineffective decision making

A lot of development books contain a lot of fluff, this one doesn’t. It goes staright to the point and provides some instant tools you can use.

Three ideas from the book for me

One of my customs is to identify three ideas I can take away from each book I review. The three ideas I took away from this book were:

  1. Poor communication: poor communication can hamper a team’s progress and prevent the team from achieving key goals. Therefore it is important to understand the cost of poor team communication, work to improve the communication skills of team members and manage team meetings to keep them on track so poor communication does not make them a waste of time.
  2. Destructive conflict: desctructive conflict in a team will prevent it from achieving it’s potential. Team leaders and managers can deal with conflict by defining the root of the conflict, encouraging active listening, negotiating a resolution and reminding team members to forgive each other.
  3. Ineffective decision making: teams can get stuck in the decision making process and end up not making a decision at all or making poor decisions. Managers and team leaders need to tackle this by agreeing on a decison making process that works and moves the team forward.

The great thing about this book is that, not only can it be read in one sitting, but it’s structured in such a way that you can dip into the book, read the bits relevant to you without needing to read the whole book. Good stuff from HBR.


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