From discovering our strengths to developing a second career, Managing oneself is a easy-ready book written by Peter F. Drucker, who teaches us what areas we must look at while improving our performances and productivity at work, and why not in life?
Managing oneself. Peter F. Drucker.
Harvard Business Review, March 1999 £7 paper ISBN 978-1-4221-2312-6
At the top of the first page of the book, there was a handwritten short note. It was an explosion of self – motivational message, a kind of “push the button and you won’t regret it”. Once you arrive to the end of the book, so at that moment, the handwritten short note will make sense.
Teaching, consultancy and writing were the main pillars of the author’s intellectual and professional life. Peter Ferdinand Drucker is an Austrian writer who was focused on the role of corporations in the western functional society. At that time, Keynes was focused on the behaviour of commodities, while Ducker was interested in their human aspects. Most importantly, the author was interested in how management could become a proper science, which explains the origin of his famous book: The practice of the management, published in 1950.
The style of Managing oneself reflects the Drucker’s pedagogical natural instincts. The author introduces his main ideas by using questions as subheadings, as a technique to master readers’ attention. “Where am I belong?” or “How do I perform?” point exactly what Drucker is going to teach us in the next few lines. No more, no less.
His approach is not “us” as a professional individuals, but as “team member”. This “teaming up” approach is his unique selling point as distinctive mark because tells us his genuine point of view about what management is. Briefly, management is the science to get on with ourselves and the rest of the team, as management is conceived by drucker as a social function and practice.
The strengths and the feedback analysis. Do you know what you are good at and your strengths and weakness are? Most people think to know very well what their strengths and weakness are, but the truth is they don’t. For this reason, the author suggests the feedback analysis, that is a long term method which will help us to identify our strengths and weakness, by looking at the outcomes of our decisions made 9 – 12 months before. If you think you are good at waiting, this could be a good method to discover how much you are.
Perform and personality. For Drucker, the way we perform is directly related to our personality, in terms of qualities and unique characteristics. Using biographical facts, Drucker explains two ways for performing: by listening or by reading. Some of us perform well by reading, while others perform better by listening. Therefore, some of us are listeners, while some others are readers. These ways of performing take us to the next question: how do we learn? Once the answer is got, our professional life will be simplified.
About the values and ethics. The third element to bear in mind when managing ourselves is our values and how they get on with the company’s ones. Firstly, Drucker tells us about the mirror test, a method that helps us to identify our values. It starts by making a simple question: what are our own values? Once the person has identified his/her values and believe they are the ones, the next challenge will be the level of the ethical correctness. In other words, individual ethics and values must be in line with the corporation’s ones. Otherwise, you will end up being the best performer, with a huge inner frustration.
Small or big companies? The fourth element is where we belong: professionally. At this stage, we should know our strengths, values, if they are in line with the company and finally, our performance (are we listeners or readers? Are we clear about how we learn?). Having this information on our hands, it is time to identify if we perform well in big companies with complex procedures and more than 4 processes to follow, or small one when you can jump into the company’s managing director at the hall.
Our contributions. The fifth element is about what our contributions would be in a specific organisation and for a specific job position.If we are aware about our strengths, values, performance details and so on, then it is time to know what should our contributions be. To picture it, Drucker gives us three gifts:
“what does the situation require? (…) how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done? And finally, what results have to be achieved to make the difference?” (p.35)
Ask your coworkers what they are doing. How much responsible are we for our relationship with coworkers at work? Firstly, we should be more inquisitive about our coworker’s office life, which is about to investigate how they perform, what their strengths and values are. After all, they are human beings as us. Secondly, Drucker points out the necessary awareness of what other do to get the tasks done, meet expectations and provide contributions. In few words, the communicational conflict within an organisation is based on the fact that people don’t ask about what “other people are doing and how they do their work, or what contribution the other people are concentrating on and what results they expect” (p. 41). It is not about be gossip, but be more interested in the context around us.
Getting ready for the retirement. The last element for managing ourselves is what Drucker explain under the phrase ‘the second half of our lives’. As a simple formula, the author suggests us to find and develop a second career, as a salvation after 20 years work life where the curve of excitement starts going down.
Managing oneself is a reference book where Drucker points the elements to be in peace and in harmony at the office. It is about how we can improve ourselves professionally and how these suggestions can make our productivity genuine and get on with what we really are.
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