Saying a dirty word: Management!

In the Air Force the word management is often denigrated.  I once heard an officer complimented with “good job managing that schedule transition” and his response was “dude, those are fightin’ words.”  He literally took offense at having his management skills applauded, as if management is somehow beneath the dignity of a leader.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Peter Drucker said, “good intentions are no substitute for organization, accountability, performance, and results.”  A leader can want those outcomes all they want, but without  management skills they’re not going to get there.  For a leader to be effective they must choose to do the right things (leadership skill) and follow through by doing those chosen things the right way (management skill).

Ironically, although the military disdains the m-word, it relies on it to succeed.  Consider the complex technologies the Air Force leverages every day to outmatch our adversaries.  Consider the logistics issues of deploying joint forces globally, and continuing to supply, feed, and employ them thousands of miles away.  How do these things happen without effective management?  The answer is they don’t.

In my not so humble opinion we hinder ourselves by shunning the m-word.  Strong management skills are essential for leadership success, and the next generation of officers and NCOs needs to be taught that.

I attempted to educate my fellow officer above by telling him he was a moron if he really thought being called a good manager was an insult; at least he could correctly feel ego-hurt at the end of the day.  (Look up “hurt feelings report”, being called a manager must be on the list.)  Still, I feel bad for anyone he supervised that wished to apply a little managerial rigor to their sloppy processes.  It’s very likely they didn’t get any leadership support for attempting to do the right thing.

Many of our leaders are brought up without any business administration education (for example I have science degrees, but no MBA, and my professional military education didn’t fill that gap).  So for those of us lacking formal education on effective management it’s on us to self-educate.

Later entries may touch on time-intensive resources to fully develop our personal business skills, but in the mean time here’s a great website that covers the primary topics of an MBA program (accounting, law, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing, operations, statistics, and strategy).

Take a peek, and enjoy!

From the QuickMBA “About” page:

“QuickMBA is an online knowledge resource for business administration. Our goal is to help you to quickly find the business knowledge you need, when you need it, wherever you may be.”


Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

Leaders, pull up a stump…

Want to make your people quit?  Easy, follow the simple steps outlined the linked article (and copied here for quick reference).  This was written for the civilian working community by a smart person known as Mel Kleiman, but the lessons are spot on for most military organizations as well. Enjoy!


Here are 10 ways to guarantee that your best people will quit:

10. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more, because they produce more results. The key is not to treat them equally; it is to treat them all fairly.

9. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.

8. Have dumb rules. I did not say have no rules; I specified dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101: Behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

6. Don’t have any fun at work. Where’s the written rule that says work has to be serious? If you find it, rip it to shreds and stomp on it, because the notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. The workplace should be fun. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun, and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.

5. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t tell them, the rumor mill will.

4. Micromanage. Tell them what you want done and how you want it done. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done and why their job is important. Don’t ask for their input on how it could be done better.

3. Don’t develop an employee retention strategy. Employee retention deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people you don’t want to lose and, next to each name, write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.

2. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Wait until a great employee is walking out the door instead and conduct an exit interview to see what you could have done differently so they would not have gone out looking for another job.

1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s “buying decision” (to take the job) or lead to “Hire’s Remorse.”

The biggest cause of “Hire’s Remorse” is the dreaded employee orientation/training program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, and hours of regulations and red tape?

To reinforce their buying decision, get key management involved on the first day and make sure your orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

  • You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;
  • You’re now part of a great organization;
  • This is why your job is so important.

Mel Kleiman is an internationally known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. Visit Mel’s blog at