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How to be a better manager in 9 minutes

(MoneyWatch) Want to be a good manager? Not just one that develops employees, but one that gets results as well? Leadership and motivation specialist James Robbins has a new book out, Nine Minutes on Monday, which is based on the theory that it's the little things -- done consistently -- that bring the biggest results.

The purpose of a manager is to lead a team to great results. This is not an innate skill and many people have experienced the pain of having a bad manager. Additionally, many people get thrown into a manager role without proper training and understanding of what they should be doing. Robbins has 9 questions you should ask yourself each Monday morning. They are:

1. Whom will I show a genuine interest in this week?

2. Whom will I give feedback to?

3. Whom will I recognize?

4. How will I connect purpose to pay for someone?

5. Whom will I help grow this week?

6. Whom will I help feel autonomous?

7. What can I do to foster team unity?

8. Where can I inject some fun?

9. What do I need to model for my team members?

Note how none of these are connected to the typical worries of managers -- productivity, budgets, project timelines and any of the other million problems that land on a manager's plate. Instead, they focus on the key purpose of managers -- getting their team to perform at a higher level. All of those other things are necessary, but they go better when you have good people.

Of course implementing these things take a lot more than 9 minutes, but not so much more that doing them will take away from the rest of your work time. After all, how long does it take to give feedback to one of your employees? Or recognize good performance?

All 9 are critical. (Although I always get twitchy when people say they want to make the office more fun. The definition of fun tends to vary from person to person, and the type of fun people who like to "inject more fun" like tends to be physical activity that I find terminally dull and embarrassing, since I am spectacularly uncoordinated.) However, number 6 intrigues me the most.

Asking yourself, "Whom will I help feel autonomous?" flies in the face of so many managers who think they must control every aspect of their employees' performance. If they are managing the department, they must have their hand in every little thing.

But, this level of micro-management tends to destroy morale and results in your good employees leaving and your bad employees doing just enough to not get fired. This isn't successful for anyone. Robbins points out that we crave autonomy and the ability to make choices. Having flexibility to do it your way typically results in more engaged and more productive employees.

In today's day of tight budgets and small headcounts, managers need every trick in the book to get the most out of their employees. Perhaps Robbins' strategy of these 9 steps each Monday will allow you take your team to the top.

Watch photo courtesy of Flickr user blakespot.

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