CXO

How much do you know about managing people?

You were promoted because of your technical brilliance and superior project management skills. But how much do you know about managing people? Take our short quiz and find out.

Test your knowledge of management practices by taking this management quiz. How well do you stack up?

1. Question: One of your Help Desk staff members comes to you and tells you a male employee is making sexual comments directed at her. She doesn’t want you to take action at the moment and asks that you not say anything to anyone. She just wants your advice. What do you do?
  1. You assure her that the conversation won’t leave your office and then talk to her about her concerns.
  2. You tell her that you can’t keep her secret and then proceed to report the complaint to HR.
  3. Tell her she’s just being too sensitive.

Answer: The correct answer is B. Tell the employee you’re under legal obligation to report the complaint. And then do so.

It’s understandable if your instinct is to establish trust with an employee and agree to keep her concerns confidential. But in this case, you could be held liable in a sexual harassment lawsuit. In fact, EEOC guidelines mandate that a company and its supervisory personnel have a legal obligation to investigate promptly and take appropriate corrective action on any complaint of sexual harassment, regardless of an employee's request to do otherwise. However, a complaining employee can be told that confidentiality will be maintained to the greatest extent possible and only those individuals with a "need to know" will be informed about the complaint. If you chose C, you’d better get a lawyer on retainer, because you’re probably going to need one eventually.

2. Question: The team you manage has missed a deadline for a software rollout. You know this happened primarily because one of your team members dropped the ball at key junctures during the project. When you’re called to task by upper management for the team’s lapse, what do you do?
  1. Accept the blame and take your lumps.
  2. Explain that one of your team members didn’t carry his share of the responsibility. That way, the whole team doesn’t look bad.
  3. Blame someone outside your department.

Answer: The answer is A. Own up to the mistake but make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Nothing is more unprofessional than shifting blame to others. The first thing you need to realize is that when you accepted the title of “Manager,” you accepted responsibility for your team. Upper management doesn’t want to know why a project wasn’t completed on time. If your team failed to perform adequately, it’s a mismanagement issue. If a component of your team was causing a problem, it was your responsibility to fix that component. Your priorities are to serve the best interests of the people on your team and to deliver the business results required of your team, not to further your own image in the eyes of upper management.

3. Question: Mike, a member of your team, has a habit of monopolizing team meetings with excruciating detail about what he’s working on. Not only are your meetings getting longer, but you’re losing out on information you could be getting from the rest of the staff. What do you do?
  1. Have a talk with Mike one-on-one and explain that his habits are negatively affecting your meetings.
  2. Say nothing. Eventually he’ll pick up on the subtle signs around him and change his behavior.
  3. Avoid a possible scene and make a blanket statement during the meeting that comments from participants should be brief.

Answer: First of all, people like Mike never pick up on the cues around them, like yawns and heavy sighs. In fact, his coworkers could be lying face down on the table and he probably wouldn’t associate it with his tedious monologues. And, although it’s tempting to avoid an uncomfortable one-on-one, never make a blanket statement during the next meeting. If you do, the people who are not guilty of talking too much will think you’re talking about them anyway and clam up. Ironically, Mike will likely never make the connection to himself.

The best course is answer A: Speak with Mike privately and explain that the weekly meetings are the mechanism by which you glean information on what the entire staff is doing. When he goes into so much detail during the meeting, it doesn’t leave much time for his coworkers to give their own updates. Explain that he need only hit the highlights of his weekly progress.

4. Question: You were recently promoted to manage a group of your former peers. What’s the best way to get the new arrangement off to the best start?
  1. In your first staff meeting, reassure everyone that nothing in your relationships will change even though you’re now The Boss. Tell them that you hope they’ll be happy for you and won’t treat you any differently.
  2. In your first staff meeting, let everyone know that since you’re now The Boss, you intend to be treated that way. It’s best for the team that everyone breaks clean of previous ties and starts fresh.
  3. Tell everyone that you are now the manager of the team, which means that you will do what it takes to ensure the success of that team and that you welcome any suggestions from team members toward that end.

Answer: Not to be cynical, but don’t expect your new staff to be overwhelmed with happiness about your promotion. If they are, fine, just don’t waste your time trying to make them happy for you. You’ll have the chance to prove that you’re worthy of the title. Also, you don’t owe anyone an apology for having gotten the promotion. You didn’t win a prize, you earned a chance to prove yourself as a manager. If you act as though you feel undeserving of the opportunity, your staff is going to follow your lead. No one wants to be represented by a manager who isn’t going to be a strong and confident leader.

On the other hand, you don’t want to take the Captain Queeg approach either. Again, you haven’t won a contest by getting a promotion and a new title doesn’t make you any smarter than you were before. You want to be flexible enough to consider and implement good suggestions made by those who report to you if they’re in the best interest of the organization. You want to lead by example, not by your words.

This brings us to the correct answer, which is C. Let everyone know that you’ve been tasked with leading the team and that means both meeting the team’s needs and fulfilling the business needs of the company.

So how'd you do? If you'd like to see more quizzes like this, drop us a line or post a comment to this article and let us know.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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