ASK Musings

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June 2022



Essential Managers: Managing People by Philip L. Hunsaker and Johanna Hunsaker

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Brand new managers of people

In a nutshell:
Basic, graphic-heavy guide to some things to keep in mind as a people manager.

Worth quoting:
N/A, though I did take lots of notes.

Why I chose it:
I’m new to managing people.

I have been working full time for over 20 years but have somehow managed to never really be a ‘boss.’ I’ve managed interns, and managed staff on loan from other agencies, but I’ve not hired or let people go, or really had any say in much of their work. I was promoted late last year, and just was able to hire my replacement, who I am also going to line manage. I think she deserves a good line manager, so I’m taking classes, talking to people who I think are good line managers and, of course, reading books on the subject.

The book is under 100 pages and divided into four chapters: understanding yourself, interacting with others, managing a team, and leading others. The information was helpful, and I found the section on interacting with others to be helpful. The authors clearly pull from a lot of other management writing out there, so I’m not entirely sure how much comes from them directly, but having all the ideas in one place is convenient.

Overall I think the book is absolutely fine, though I’m not thrilled with the decidedly corporate feel of it. There’s definitely some jargon, and a focus on creating ‘value’ for the company. I work in a quasi public / sort of non-profit field (higher education), and haven’t worked for the fully private sector in 18 years, but I know many people do work in corporations, so I get why that’s the assumption of the main audience. But there are some things that make me think – if this is what the authors this is good management / good work, can I trust the other things they say that are diametrically opposed to my values? An example is when thinking about a value a worker should have, they talk about working extra hours for a customer. Why is overwork the go-to example for something we should laud and emulate? How about the value of hiring enough people to do the job so no one has to work extra hours?

As I said, I did take notes, and I’m sure I’ll refer back to this at some point. It’s a fine starting point, but I’m looking forward to reading some more involved writing.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:

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