Three Key Success Factors in Effective Management
Bill Cottringer

“The effective management of others always starts with effective self-management.” ~The author.

There are libraries of books on how to manage effectively, but since there is already too much information and too little time for most new managers to consume and digest it, let me try to simplify all the best advice in this brief article. In that spirit, here are three important things which the most effective managers consistently and continually practice. When these things are not perpetually practiced, unresolved matters just accumulate and take even more time to resolve.

1. Right Prioritizing.

This is often just a good time management skill. But it does require knowing what priorities are more urgent and important than others and which are easier and quicker to complete versus the ones that are more difficult and slower to be resolved. An old rule to follow is reversing the Pareto Principle by spending 20% of your time getting 80% of your results (whenever you are lucky enough to be able to do that!).

One useful strategy is to objectify a priority according to the payoff its completion gives your organization, as opposed to subjectively selecting a priority to work on that you enjoy personally or one that gives limited payoff results. Another useful approach is to shift the teams’ focus on getting results to identifying what needs changing in a process that is not getting the desired results, with more effort than is needed. Focusing merely on results usually doesn’t bring about the necessary changes that can get the needed results, whereas focusing on changing something will almost always get results.

Finally, a good way to prioritize your priorities is to prioritize the values you live by personally and professionally and then making sure most of your work and life are including those values. This important process will often better define each priority’s importance, payoff and value itself. For instance is justice is an important value to you, it is good to know you will only achieve it by repairing and injustice.

2. Smart Decision-making.

The decision-making rule of choice is to make decisions on simple matters quickly and deliberate slowly on difficult ones and even getting a second and third opinion on the more potentially treacherous conundrums. The principle here is that any time wasted on making decisions on relatively simple matters, wastes too much time that could be used more productively in the arduous thinking process required for more difficult decisions.

Effective managers also know there is a point of no return in seeking more and more information to assure that a !00% right decision will be made. There comes a time when more data will just confuse the decision and a deadline must be set to make the decision based on the best available information within a reasonable time-frame. At that point a leap of faith has to be made in the accuracy and completeness of the available information. Fortunately not that many wrong decisions end up being fatal and you get the opportunity to get the right information more quickly the next time.

Something which often gets in the way of decision-making is not being sensitive to the point of no return before it comes and goes. When it comes to dealing with employees, a manager may see more potential in an employee than they see in themselves, or not see all the red flags that indicate the time has come to decide whether to continue fishing or cut bait.

3. Persistent Follow-up.

Earlier, Stephen Covey defined maturity as “keeping the promises you make and only making the ones you can keep.” If there is one thing that separates effective from in effective managers it is following through with the follow-up needed to complete a task at hand. Yes, it is very easy to get distracted with other priorities and decisions, but one problem at hand neglected will usually translate to at least two more in the bush waiting for you.

This commitment applies to keeping the promises you make to your employees and your customers. And, by being known for your persistent follow-up and follow-through, this will do much for building your character and credibility. This is what gets people to want to return the favor and do what you are asking them to do.

The best ways to follow-up promises to resolve conflicts and issues include: Getting expectations for results crystal clear, finding answers to tough questions and giving them to the asker in a timely fashion, going past the next corner in an investigation which you are tempted to stop at, and giving intermission progress reports to let the other person know you haven’t forgotten him or her. Of course writing these reminders into your Outlook is a good way to keep from forgetting to follow-up.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or