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Productivity Week Day 1: Manager Tools

Today kicks off Productivity Week here at Associate’s Mind.

As July begins, the dog days of summer are here. The oppressive heat means things sometimes slow down a bit. No better time than to review ways to improve your productivity. I’ll be highlighting websites and tools from around the web. Plus,  a couple items from Associate’s Mind as well.

An Introduction to Management

Maybe you’ve just started a solo practice or joined a big firm, either way, you’re going to be faced with a number of situations and problems for which Law School offered no training. Perhaps one of the most challenging is management. Probably for the first time, you’re going to be in charge of other people: secretaries, legal assistants, law clerks, paralegals. These people are here to help you do your job, but it might be awkward or confusing dealing with them if you have no experience in management. What should you delegate? When to follow up? If you’re having problems with someone how should you deal with them?

There are thousands of books, videos, and other resources about management. But if you’re a new associate, it can be difficult to devote any time or resources to improving one’s management skills. It’s difficult to even know where to look. Fortunately one of the best resources for learning about management is online and mostly free: Manager-Tools.com

Manager-Tools provides a wide array of management advice, mostly in the form of free podcasts. The topics range from “How to Assign Work,” to “Boss One-on-Ones,” to “How to Leave an Effective Voicemail.” They focus on one topic and provide concrete advice and actions on how to implement them. For an associate on the go, there is no easier way to simply integrate management training into their daily lives. Download them and listen to them on your commute or at the gym and develop the appropriate skills you need to manage others, as well as learn to be properly be managed yourself.

Manager-Tools is so comprehensive and large it might seem overwhelming at first. Fortunately, they have created an “Manager-Tools Basics” series. These are 18 podcasts that provide a general overview of how to develop one’s management skills. Roughly 45 minutes in length, they cover One on Ones, Feedback, Coaching, Delegation, Rolling Out the Management Trinity, and Running an Effective Meeting. In just 13 hours, you can gain a deeper understanding of effective management.

DISC Assessment

What many people don’t realize is that effective management is as much about psychology as it is anything else. It only follows that different types of people need to be communicated to and managed in unique ways. One of the most popular methods of breaking down personalities for management is the DISC assessment model. DISC, which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious, is a quadrant behavioral model based on the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston (1893–1947) to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation. By breaking people down into one of these four categories, effective managers can learn how to better communicate and direct them.

Management-Tools also provides a useful guide on how to identify people by each type and suggestions for dealing with them. By reviewing the following guide, you can better learn how to classify people and better improve your interactions with them; increasing productivity for everyone involved.

Be Effective With Disc

Be sure to check in everyday this week for more productivity tips. And please consider subscribing to Associate’s Mind  for guaranteed updates on continued tips, research, news, reviews, and other professional development information. You can also choose to receive updates via Facebook or Twitter if you prefer.

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About Keith Lee

I'm the founder and editor of Associate's Mind. I like to write, talk, and think about law, professional development, technology, and whatever else floats my boat. I practice law in Birmingham, AL.


  1. Keith, congratulations on your recent anniversary of blogging. I’m a relatively new reader and I gravitate to your posts from a professional development perspective. I’m not a lawyer but I find your advice very pertinent to managers in all fields. This particular post was music to my ears — I always like it when organizations use assessments as they were intended — to help individuals learn more about themselves and others for better communications. Thanks for all your insights.

    • Thank you for reading. It’s nice to hear that the professional development information I put up is useful to those outside the legal field. I’d like to think that it has a fairly broad appeal to any type of professional, but one can never be too sure.

  2. I think one of the important things about your blog is that you raise the awareness and focus of professional development that involves personal growth. It seems that often in highly specialized roles, (such as law and healthcare professional as examples), the priority of learning is always on the technical content, which is of course necessary. But learning how we come to the table and work with others more effectively is tremendously critical for job success. Most people don’t get fired — or leave on their own — because of lack of technical skills, it’s because they aren’t a good fit for the culture or they don’t play in the sandbox too well. Anyhow, thanks for all you are sharing. Good stuff.

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