I was recently asked by a long-time friend to join a business book club and I jumped at the offer. I want to and NEED to read business books, so the added accountability was just what I needed to make sure I finish them when other, seemingly more urgent things on my to do list vie for my time.

The three other women in the club are all entrepreneurs in other industries who live in other states, and just last week we had our first video chat to discuss our first book-- 12: The Elements of Great Managing.

Eleven years ago, when I started my photography business, I figured I'd stay small and run my business on my own for the rest of my career. Heck, all I cared about was creating something that WOULD run for the foreseeable future. I couldn't see beyond the end of my nose. But along my journey, in the process of just putting one foot in front of the other, I've ended up building five streams of income and now find myself managing 16 people! Yikes! Not what I signed up for. I'm not sure I thought this all through -- haha! I never set out to become a manager. But a manager is what I now am. In addition to being a photographer and entrepreneur, I am now responsible for mentoring, guiding and inspiring 16 other souls. Queue the cold sweats and hyperventilation.

So when my friend suggested 12: The Elements of Great Managing as our first read, I knew this book club was God's provision of more than just accountability. Instead of hiring amazing people, setting up systems and then sitting back and expecting everything to just run, I needed to step up and own my newfound position as a manager with more intention and care.

This book was just what I needed. 12 reviews a Gallup poll study of 10 million employee and manager interviews to discover the keys to sustaining employee engagement. In effect, millions of workers were saying, "If you do these things for us, we will do what the company needs of us." The 12 Elements of Great Managing that emerged from the research are as follows:

1. I know what is expected of me at work.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
10. I have a best friend at work.
11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The book covers examples of managers who have harnessed the truths behind these statements to turn around their floundering workplaces. Some of my key take-aways were:

- I need to be better with my teams at casting vision, setting goals and communicating them.
- I am such a practical nuts and bolts type person, but I need to be better at sharing the greater purpose behind what we do.
- Focus on building on the strengths of each worker rather than on "fixing" weaknesses
- Create a system of recognition and praise (both individual and team) to make sure it happens regularly
- We need to brainstorm ways to "post our results on the walls" to keep us motivated and goal-oriented
- I need to work on our marketing messaging and not be afraid to infuse it with "large dollops of syrup."

Sorry -- you might have to read the book to understand some of the above, but I wanted to post these thoughts here for my own reference. Plus, if I shared EVERYTHING I got out of this book here, this post would be book-sized!

I have a thing where I keep track of anything I want to remember on the front inside cover of a book. I write the page number and the point that stuck out or something I want to add to my goal list because of what I read. This is what the inside of my copy of 12 looks like:
Good stuff! I feel so much more focused now in my role as a manager. If you're a manager of one person or 50 people, I would definitely recommend it!
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