About the Author

Frank Armstrong

A little Bit About Me

Presently, I am teaching at Ferris State University at the College of Business.  The classes I teach are Applied Management, Quality Operations Management, Introduction to Business, Organizational Behavior & Team Dynamics, and Lean Manufacturing.  Some of the courses I have taught over the years varies with different institutions such as California State National University, University of Phoenix, and Breyer University.  Education has been my lifelong pursuance, I have two Associates, two Bachelors’ Degrees, an MBA and an MISM, and then pursued Doctorate of Organizational Leadership.

My background, however, has been in the automotive industry where I worked as a Process Engineer, Quality Engineer, Quality Manager, Director of Supplier Development and Supplier Quality Engineer.  Throughout my journey in life, I have learned a myriad of skills, traits and ideas from those that I have worked with, personal experience, and of course, the school of hard knocks.  One thing that I have learned both the hard way, and from mentors along my journey, is that abusive, coercive, intimidating type management does not motivate employees to do more than the minimum expected.

The world is ever-changing, and thus the people within change on a consistent basis.  What worked 30 – 40 years ago when it seemed necessary to get people to be productive does not work today.  Today’s management style has to be participative and working to involve and empower your work force.  There is a huge difference between managers and leaders – a manager manages tasks and thus is  pretty much task-oriented; responsible for hitting the numbers of productivity, efficiency and profitability.  A leader leads people thru motivation, inspiration and by setting the pace or the example for others to follow.  Rarely do you find one who can balance the scales between task and leadership, but when you do, they are very successful.  These types of manager/leaders do not fear their employees learning more and become knowledgeable and skillful; rather, they encourage their team so that they don’t have to micro-manage and tell each what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  The wise leader today trains and informs, motivates and inspires and shares the vision showing the benefit to both the organization and the workers involved – employees must see some benefit to them in order to strive to reach the organizational goals.  Additionally, the manager who fears having well developed workers inhibits their own ability to be promoted, for there is no one trained or skillful to take their place.  Thus, I posit, based on my experience and success, you train your employees to function to their best when you are there, but more importantly, when you are not there.  You have arrived as a successful leader and manager when you can go away on vacation and your superiors don’t realize you are absent.  That is success!

The key to all this is relatively simple:

  • Treat everyone just like you would want to be treated yourself.  Always place yourself in others shoes.  If you have to correct or discipline someone, think first of how you would like to be approached.
  • Develop trust – always tell the truth, be fair with everyone and treat everyone equally.  We all have our own perceptions of people and thus make judgments, singling some out of our “circle”.  However, this leads to a division of followers.  You have to treat everyone the same, no favoritism and no exclusions.
  • Talk to your people and solicit their input, get involved in decisions, problem solving and creativity.  Once they feel they are involved, they will support the change or the platform because they feel they had a voice  in the decision making process.
  • Create and foster teamwork, get your people motivated to work as a team, to be the best, and even to be competitive against neighboring departments within the organization.
  • Praise your workers for a job well done – no one likes to only hear what they did wrong, so tell them when they did something good.
  • Ask people to perform the task, don’t direct.  Telling someone to go do it, and asking them to do it will produce different results. It won’t hurt you or lower your authority to say “please” and “thank you” – it actually generates more respect for you as a manager or leader.

Yes, you will have to switch hats as a manager.  There are times you will have to be autocratic, particularly in the beginning of a new position or new work force; however, go thru the stages of development.  Know when to switch from autocratic to consultative, and when to switch to participative, and finally the day we all should hope for, when to become the empowering manager.

I teach these skills to my students in hopes that they will learn how valuable this is today and as they go out into the world, create a new vision and practice of cooperative and collaborative workforce.

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