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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

A Manager’s Toolbox

Robert Stevenson Blog - Essential Tools to Manage by

Paper was invented in China in 100 AD. You would think in this incredible technological world we live in, that something that was invented that long ago would not be found in EVERY office in the world … but it is. There are many very dated inventions still found in our offices today … Scissors (1500 BC), Pencil (1564), Eraser (1770), Paper Clip (1899), Tape (1925), Post-It Notes (1968), and the Stapler.

Some of these are centuries old but they are still as useful and necessary today as the day they were invented. I would like to take these office tools and use them as symbols for “TOOLS” every manager needs in their toolbox if they want to be successful.

Paper – boy do we use paper. It is critical to get the paperwork done, but it’s also critical to do everything you can to cut down on the required paperwork; every chance you get, streamline the process and reduce the amount of paperwork. Combine forms, eliminate forms, re-design forms … all with the sole purpose to make things easier for everyone.

Scissors – Sometimes you need to “Cut the Cord” with an old policy, procedure, rule or regulation. Things change, technology advances, ways of doing business are altered, so you need to be able to “Cut Out” the old, dated, useless “whatever” and move on with the new.

Pencil – There is an old saying which states: “the greatest memory does not compare to the palest ink.” With all the things a manager has going on, it is tough to remember everything … so write them down. Make a promise or commitment – write it down. Have something you need to do later – write it down. If it is important enough to remember, it is worthy of being written down. Things-To-Do-List, write them down, then do them.

Eraser – The only person who never makes a mistake, is the person who never does anything. We are all going to make them. The key is to learn from them and then “Erase” them from your mind and move on. Living in the past, fretting over things you have screwed-up will get you nowhere; it is a total waste of time and energy.

Paper Clip – this simple device is a great little tool for keeping papers organized. Let it serve as a reminder to you to do the same. Staying organized and focused are critical to your success. Time is money, and there are only so many hours in the day to get things done. So, stay on task and keep things organized where everyone knows what to do and when to do it.

Tape – repairs, fixes, and puts things back together. Some might even say it “Mends” things. When something tears, you can put it back together with a little tape. Tape comes in all shapes and sizes and has countless uses. Even the adhesive on a band-aid is a form of tape that covers a wound to allow it to heal. As a manager you are going to have to Mend many things. Conflicts are going to occur between people and departments. Feelings can be hurt. Morale can be wounded … and it is up to you to pull out your tape and Mend things.

Post-It Notes – two of the biggest problems I see in companies today are... 1) Lack of direction and 2) Assuming employees know. If it needs to get done and if there is a certain way to do it … then Post-It; put it in writing so there is NO chance for confusion.

Stapler – I left this tool for last because I think it is the most important. A stapler is a device that “HOLDS” pages together. A great manager does the same thing. They Hold things together by understanding it is … EXAMPLE not words, DEEDS not wishes, Decisiveness not evasiveness, CONVICTION not confusion, CLARITY not ambiguity, POSITIVE not negative, PROACTIVE not reactive. Because they manage this way, they are able to hold the organization together, running as a well-oiled machine which operates at maximum efficiency.


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