AMACOM Books just released two titles designed to ease promotion anxiety. Written for folks who never intended to be anyone's boss, Gary Topchik's The Accidental Manager ($17.95, 192 pages, ISBN 0814471803) teaches the radical concept that it's actually "easier, more rewarding, and less time-consuming" to be a good manager rather than a poor one. After identifying and describing the 10 worst manager types, Topchik explains the art of "doing nothing." While this plan sounds lazy, it actually requires "platinum skills" like developing the ability to delegate, active listening, giving and receiving feedback and creating a motivational climate. The advice is concrete and actionable, and role-playing examples make it easy to put into practice. Topchik's book is great for dealing with accidental promotions or learning to manage an office Dogbert.
A blessing for anyone who hates meetings (who doesn't?), How Great Decisions Get Made has simplified one of the biggest managerial challenges the art of team decision making. Author Don Maruska, who writes the widely syndicated Business Success column, has designed a 10-step process to battle the fears that undermine decision making. The key to superior solutions is to cure fear by getting everyone involved and focused on shared hopes. Don't dismiss this approach as corny until you see how the steps work in the real world. For those still not ready to give up long, unproductive meetings, Maruska gives a simple 30-minute technique for a trial run. Plus, the author covers how to cope when you're not in charge, not in the same location or dealing with a large group. Short, focused chapters without jargon make the book easy to read while waiting for meetings to start.
Stephanie Swilley is studying for her M.B.A. at Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management.