Management – A House of Cards?

Is Your Management Style Built on a House of Cards?

Have you ever tried building a house of cards? It is certainly not an easy thing to do and a brand new deck is no good, too slippery. No when it works best the cards need to be well used, well thumbed and a bit sticky! Nice huh. Continue reading Management – A House of Cards?

Managers Managing Manager’s Management

Managers Managing Manager’s Management

Managers Managing Management’s Management

Management’s Management Managing Management

So many variants, so many things that can be done with the M words! I suppose in one way or another they all mean the same thing, managing the management. I will stop this now, please do read on… Continue reading Managers Managing Manager’s Management

Top 12 Recommended Books for Leaders & Managers

SerialTrainer7 has two main pillars to it’s business, Sales and Management and the latter takes up at least 50% of delivery and coaching for my clients. During every course I take along a selection of books that I think supplement the training and give some extra development to the delegates. The list I present to you here is just a sample of my vast collection, I spend so much money on books it is obscene, but to me each is a treasure and if I learn one good thing then it is worthwhile, believe me I have read my share of truly awful (most of them sadly USA based) motivational management crap, however what sets this group apart is their straightforward, practical nature and applicable skills to the day to day manager.


And so to accompany my recommended reading list for Sales People here is another list of recommended reading, this time for those working as or thinking of working in management.  Each of these books represents experience and is light on the traditional management model; to qualify that if you are looking for stuff on Herzberg, Maslow or McGregor then these are not for you. If however you seek enlightenment from people who are on the sharp end of management and actually doing then read on.

The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard.

Arguably one of the finest and most practical of all the management books out there and currently it is available in a new updated version.  It covers the day to day aspects of appraisal, reprimand and goal setting and for new managers or those who might have lost their way, this is essential. I give this book to many of my delegates and coachees as it simply works.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves.

Most managers talk about Emotional Intelligence or E.Q. as it is often referred to, but many of them have not the faintest idea as to what it is when they are questioned. They often believe it has ‘something to do with empathising or the like’ and this really gets me cross as it is so much more and it plays a massive role in all businesses.  This book easily breaks it down and makes it applicable. It has a sister book too called Leadership 2.0 and they both work really well together. This book is perfect for those managers feeling out of touch with the people who work for them or senior managers and Board members who simply do not live in the real world!

Sales Management Simplified, Mike Weinberg

Wow! it is about time a book on this subject has been written that actually talks sensibly about sales managers and helps them to get the best from the their teams and ultimately get them making money. This is new book and any Senior Sales Exec or Account Manager should have this book in their library. As for seasoned Sales Managers, I think this will open their eyes to new world.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

The content of this book plays a role in my Management Essential course as it clearly and concisely illustrates why things go wrong with teams. It makes for light bulb moment reading and I have experienced many managers who have had the Ta-Dah! moment for themselves after reading it. If you want to understand a team from a different perspective then you could a lot worse than read this. Terrific stuff.

Team Roles at Work, R. Meredith Belbin

I have long been an advocate of anything by Belbin. His team roles profiling tool is without exception the most effective out there for my money. Here Belbin takes the roles he sets out in his profiling and puts them to work, demonstrating the effects and how to manage them effectively. This book is perfect for helping with specific contributions from team members. Furthermore, by understanding the team better helps any manager to recruit the right person for the role not the person who is most like themselves.

The Coaching Secret, Andrew Machon

Shhh it’s a secret! I am not usually a fan of anything labelled with ‘secret’ but this book, however, opened my eyes to new techniques and practices that can make a different to anyone offering coaching or mentoring either as part of their role as a manager or professionally as a business coach. Clear and well laid out it won’t take too long to read, but you will find yourself coming back to it again, it demands your time and what you get is so worth it.

The Manager’s Diary, The Manager’s Diary 2 and The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership, Cameron Morrissey

Without doubt, the most relevant, insightful and real manager ever to be published. Cameron Morrissey to me is a legend. You get three here and they are bloody fantastic. Cameron Morrissey has his own website too listed at the end of this sentence, check it out. What I like most is that he is not frightened to own up to mistakes and errors that we all have made and show us how he has put things right. He shares his struggles and successes and you get the feeling that you are in the same boat and that you are just muddling by, you are the same. The two Manager’s Diary books are a best of, and the Deadly Sins book looks at Leadership in terms of how leaders behave and how to put bad behaviours right. This is essential reading.

The Three Levels of Leadership, James Scouller

This is another recent release and with so many books published on the subject of leadership it is important that the best ones get a mention. This one is great, it break leadership down into workable chunks; personal, private and public leadership that actually mean something rather than all the flannel and BS that is swims around. Ideal for those experienced managers who are looking to develop this element of their role further or are looking for something more tangible to add to their credibility.

Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has a very engaging way of writing that keeps you turning the pages and coming back for more. He says that “Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown, they rush toward danger and would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to sacrifice what is ours and that they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.” See what I mean. Great huh, and that is just a snippet. Get this book it is one of the greats.

Lead From the Heart, Mark C.Crowley

I stumbled upon this book whilst I was in the USA and something about it just resonated with me. I knew it was going to be good when I had filled my copy with post it notes and writing in the white spaces, so bought another one for reference. Passion, Happiness and Engagement are the key themes to this book and it works so well with the other two books I have recommended on the subject of leadership.

Naturally there are so many books out there that it is tricky to pick all the best ones, but these would make a good start for anyone. Please feel free to contact me for other recommendations, by doing so I could save you a lot of wasted money!

Thanks for reading, and if you would like to have your managers trained in effective management and leadership skills, then contact me Simon at or call me on 07979 537824

Employer Betrayal – The Ultimate Change

Betrayal:  noun

“An act of deliberate disloyalty, to be false, to breach confidence, a violation of trust”

Ugly word isn’t it? Betrayal. So much venom, poison and dark intentions yet it exists. I am sure that in our good human hearts we would like to believe that no one would set out to betray another intentionally. After all the feelings it leaves those reeling with are in no way positive and can be raw, damaging and upsetting. Quite often a deliberate act of betrayal can affect a wider circle that the direct victim. Continue reading Employer Betrayal – The Ultimate Change

Damp Squib or Rocket? What Personalities are In Your Team?

What type of team do you work in? No doubt there are lots of different personalities within it, some you like, some not so much. Teams are made up of so many different types and I thought as it is November 5th, that it would be fun to create some personalities based on the most well known fireworks that we find in the selection packs each year. Of course this is not a real psychological test, it is just a bit of fun, however you might recognise some of these bright sparks in your team! Continue reading Damp Squib or Rocket? What Personalities are In Your Team?

Trick or Treat – Does Your Employer Care or Scare?

Hallowe’en comes around quicker and quicker don’t you think? We still have groups coming around each year dressed up in spooky outfits, with adorable made up faces and armed with little buckets ready to be filled with sweets and good things, and that is just the adults! Continue reading Trick or Treat – Does Your Employer Care or Scare?

50 Shades of Management – Autonomy, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!

The world is now engulfed in the phenomenon that is 50 Shades of Grey and, as Grey this new take on the original story is released just in time for the DVD release (handy) and I am continuing to draw parallels between this and management. Continue reading 50 Shades of Management – Autonomy, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!

Management – Making the Move from Mate to Manager

Congratulations! You have made a significant step in your career and you have begun taking your first steps into management. Nice job. You can look forward to having your own team; more responsibility and really impacting on the results of the business you work in.  Continue reading Management – Making the Move from Mate to Manager

Difficult Conversations – No More Sh*t Sandwiches!

Here’s the situation we have all been in. You are asked by your manager to come into a room for “a quick word“. You both sit down and your manager asks you how you have been and makes a little smalltalk. He or she proceeds to tell how well you have been doing with a certain project, or compliments you on something you have done, and all the while the only word you can hear in your head is “But?” Then the bad news comes, whatever that may be, and then after that a little pep talk to make you feel all warm and fuzzy again. Or is it to make the manager feel better about having to have “a quick word“? Doesn’t matter. This is the classic ‘shit sandwich’  technique that has been trained in management since time began. Start with something nice, then the nasty bit, then end with something nice. Classic stuff and without doubt it does have its place.

Continue reading Difficult Conversations – No More Sh*t Sandwiches!

Time Management – A Marathon and a Pomodoro!

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Time Management & Pomodoro – Feel Like You’re Running a Marathon?

I will start by referring to the Pomodoro; it is a type of tomato AND a technique to help with time management, and more on that in a few paragraphs time.

Here in Bath the city is buzzing as the annual marathon event known as the Bath Half has taken place yesterday. People flocked to the streets all cheering on their friends and family taking part to get fit and raise goodness knows how much money for their chosen charities, all good stuff indeed.

In our very busy lives it can feel like we are running a marathon simply by the management (or lack of in some cases) of the tasks that have to be completed. We rush around like headless chickens from task to chore in the hope of being able to draw a lovely fat red line through our to do list items.

The thing is, when we create a to do list, we attach ourselves emotionally to the content. We choose to do some tasks we really like first, or we choose the others tasks first because they are a quick win, and get the ‘red line’ action off to a good start. In another way we also put off things we do not want to do, or are not possible yet; indeed in my case, such items go into what I call the ‘too hard tray’. Not great is it.

Now that I am running my own business, I have quickly realized how much I took for granted departments in organizations that keep the wheels greased, such as marketing, accounts, sales to name a few. I am now all of those departments as well as being the product that is being sold. With all the client management that goes on in terms of sending out proposals, taking and making calls, creating material for delivery as well as invoicing and advertising it can get overwhelming. Oh and don’t get me started on Social Media, essential doesn’t being to cover it when you run a business, and you need to carve out time for it. All I will say is thank goodness for timed releases.

In order to get as much out of the day as I can, I follow a simple system that is based on reward and discipline. The latter is hard, but when used in tandem with the former, it really makes a difference.

Each day I get up early and walk the dog. He needs it and it puts me in a zone, when we are back I do the domestic bit and then employ what I call a reward/discipline mechanism and that for me is 90mins in the gym. Once that is done I need to do enough work to justify that reward and so the next 7-10hours make up the working day. Good coffee forms another reward mechanism but that is another story.

Now the science part.

I create a to do list addressing and prioritising everything in terms of urgency (tasks driven by time) and importance (those tasks deemed important by opinion, mine or others). Using a simple method I was taught many years ago and have employed ever since I then subset each task into three. Those being, in the grand scheme of things, Very Urgent, Urgent, or Not Urgent. Then I repeat this with tasks being Very Important, Important and Not Important. Starting with the ‘very’ words I assign a number 3, then a 2 to the middle ones and a 1 to the ‘not’ words. By assigning two numbers to each task e.g. Invoicing 2 (urgent) and 3 (very important) then multiplying them together, so in this case Invoicing gets a total of 6, I can clearly and without emotion, identify which tasks need to be completed first. My list might look like this as an example. It only there was five items then I would be living the dream it is closer to about 35 each day hence the system!

  • Invoicing Client 2 (urgent) and 3 (very important) Total 6
  • Send Proposal to new client by end of month 1 (not urgent) and 2 (important) Total 2
  • Print out notes for session tomorrow 3 (very urgent) and 3 (very important) Total 9
  • Book train tickets for next week 2 (urgent) and 2 (important) Total 4
  • Call 3 new clients 2 (urgent) and 3 (very important) Total 6

You can see that my 9 score must be done first and my 2 score is last. If I do not get these things done today then by recompleting the process tomorrow the number will go up and the time runs out. If any two tasks get the same number then the time driven element will be the decider and for this I simply add on a .5. I do it this way and ensure that the numbers never go above 9 as when things go into double figures they can get out of control! And that leads to coffee!

Bring on the Tomato!

While I am working it is vital that I do not let time run away with me, and being conscious of it makes a world of difference. To this end I have started employing the Pomodoro Technique, which is essentially a kitchen timer (in the shape of a tomato, or pomodoro to be precise and setting it to 25 minutes. My tasks then get broken up into 25-minute chunks. It is very simple and tremendously effective. There is more to it as well and I would recommend the book to anyone looking to improve his or her skills, the one I have is called Pomodoro Technique Illustrated (I like a picture!) by Steffan Noteberg it has a forward by the creator Francesco Cirillo and makes for a cracking read. It really is make a huge difference to my efficiency when combined with the number technique.


PTechniqueIf you find yourself in a position where there are not enough minutes left at the end of an hour or enough hours left in a day, then you might find your marathon of tasks easier to work through by trying these two simple techniques. You could also come to one of my Time Management training sessions. We could drink a lot of coffee there too. Thanks for reading this and don’t worry too much if you don’t get everything done, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, take time for yourself, give yourself a little reward and sometimes you can get much more done.

This blog is part of the Journey Through Time, and if you would like to develop the time management skills of your teams further then use the form below or drop me Simon an email at Thanks for reading and drop by again soon.