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Office Life

In business, as in novels, cut to the chase

The British novelist David Cornwell, aka John Le Carre, once advised writers to get to the heart of the action quickly in order to hook the reader’s interest. Not only is this excellent advice for novelists; it’s also good advice for anyone in management. And it works in two ways.

Case one. You have a major presentation to make in front of your boss. You have been working on it for months; it’s a reflection of the thinking and doing that you and your team has been sweating over.

So where do you begin? Start with the challenge facing the team as it tackles the problem. Address the problem and the solution you are delivering.

Case two. Management is about problem-solving. Your challenge is to get others to solve their own problems so that you can help them overcome the obstacles and, in the process, become stronger contributors.

Again, where do you begin? Not with the minutiae but with the facts of the matter.

What’s happening and how it is happening? By asking questions beginning with “why?” you will uncover the thinking that led to the problem.

Good managers know how to get to the essence of the matter in their presentations and in their management style. Not only does such a style lead to brevity; it leads to the clarity people need to do their jobs better.

This article first appeared on SmartBrief.

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