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Mind Tools for Managers:
100 Ways to Be a Better Boss

Research Methodology and Results

More than 15,000 managers across the world contributed to Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss. They provided us with their views on the most important tools and techniques in each area of management, and this helped us to make the final selections that appear in the book. This note provides some additional information on the methodology we used, and we also list the tools that did not make the cut.

 

The first step was to draw up a longlist of tools. Mindtools.com website lists more than 1,000 tools, frameworks and concepts, so this was our starting point. As we began to categorize the tools, three concentric circles (Manage Yourself, Manage Your Work and People, Manage Your Wider Context) emerged as a simple organizing framework, and each circle was then further broken down into coherent elements, giving us the 18 chapters that constitute the book.

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For each chapter, we put together a longlist of 10-12 tools, based on our own judgment and analysis, and also on their popularity on the MindTools.com website. For the online survey, we then asked the respondents to identity the top five most important tools from this list. This was an important point in our survey design. We could have asked respondents to evaluate each tool in turn on a 1-7 scale, but this approach typically leads to similar ratings across the board (i.e, all the tools are important). Our design was a way of forcing people to make choices, to say that tool X is more important than tool Y.

The sample of managers we sent the survey to were users of MindTools.com. The full-length survey would have taken about 40 minutes to complete, so we split it into thirds - some people got one set of questions, other people got the other sets. In total, we sent the survey to approximately 850,000 people, and we received 15,242 responses. Table 1 provides a rough breakdown of the nationalities, age, experience, and gender of the respondents.

Table 1. Survey Respondents

Total Respondents 15,242
Gender Split 57% Female, 43% Male
Age Split 21% <36 years, 56% 36-55 years, 22% >55 years
Biggest Nationalities 32% US, 13% UK, 8% Australia, 6% India

For each chapter in the book, we ended up with a ranking of tools, and we have included these rankings in the pages that follow, for your interest. A score of 70% means that of all the respondents to the survey, 70% chose that tool in their top five. As a general rule, we chose the top five or six tools in each category to feature in the book. There were a few cases where we used our judgment, promoting one particular tool ahead of another because we felt it was sufficiently important. For example, Agile Project Management has boomed in recent years, and we felt it needed to be included, even though many of our survey respondents did not include it in their top five. We also added the idea of Transformational Leadership, which we had not included in our survey.

Below, we list the ranking of tools for each chapter in the book, highlighting the ones that are included and noting the others that didn’t quite make the cut.

Table 2. Ranking of Tools For Each Chapter

Chapter 1. Know Yourself % People Who Chose It
1. Understand Your Own Personality and Manage Accordingly (The Big Five Personality Traits) 40%
2. Understanding and Making Better Use of Your Personal Strengths (SWOT Analysis) 58%
3. Set Clear Personal Goals and Show a Strong Sense of Direction (Personal Goal Setting) 39%
4. Build Your Self-Confidence (Building Self-Confidence) 32%
5. Be Aware of How Your Actions Impact Others (Self-Awareness) 65%
6. Think Positively and Manage Negative Thoughts (Cognitive Restructuring) 49%
7. Adopt a Self-Development Mindset (Dweck’s Mindsets) 38%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understanding and Acting on Personal Values 32%
Personal Character – Understanding and Standing Your Ground 29%
Understanding and Improving Self-Discipline 29%
Understanding and Improving Self-Motivation 27%

Chapter 2. Plan and Manage Your Time % People Who Chose It
8. Find Time in Your Day by Eliminating Low-Yield Activities (Activity Logs) 36%
9. Prioritize Tasks Effectively for Yourself and Your Team (Action Priority Matrix) 74%
10. Use a Structured Approach for Tracking and Prioritizing Many Tasks (Action Programs/Getting Things Done™) 51%
11. Schedule Your Time Effectively (Effective Scheduling) 58%
12. Keep Yourself Focused (Managing Interruptions, Minimizing Distractions, Improve Your Concentration and In Flow) 53%
13. Beat Procrastination (The Pomodoro Technique®) 44%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Learning From What You Have Done Systematically 27%
Taking Notes More Effectively Using Mind Maps® 21%
Working in Disciplined 25-Minute Bursts of Activity 16%
Remembering More Effectively 14%
Reading Faster or More Effectively 10%

Chapter 3. Cope With Change and Stress % People Who Chose It
14. Develop Personal Resilience and Grow From Setbacks (Developing Resilience, and Managing Post-Traumatic Growth) 61%
15. Analyze and Manage Sources of Stress (Stress Diaries) 39%
16. Managing Negative Emotions at Work (The STOP Method for Anger Management) 53%
17. Manage the Impact of Pressure on Performance (Inverted-U Model) 39%
18. Overcoming Fear of Failure or Overcoming Fear of Success 41%
19. Learning from Your Experience, In A Systematic Way (Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, Journaling for Professional Development) 49%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Overcoming Perfectionism – Knowing When Good Enough Is Good Enough 39%
Understanding and Avoiding Burnout 31%
Building A Sense of Control Over Outcomes 23%

Chapter 4. Manage Your Career Over Time % People Who Chose It
20. Finding a Career That Suits Who You Are (Identity Transition Process) 50%
21. Finding a Role That Provides Meaning and Pleasure, and Uses Your Strengths (The MPS Process) 64%
22. Shape Your Role to Suit Your Strengths and Aspirations (Job Crafting) 48%
23. Flourish at Work (The PERMA Model) 35%
24. Find the Work/Life Balance That’s Best for You (The Wheel of Life®) 62%
25. Understanding the Types of Behaviors That Can Derail Your Career (Hogan Development Survey) 36%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understanding the Importance of Exercise to Improve Your Overall Well-Being 36%
Avoiding Self-Sabotaging Behaviors 34%
Balancing Life Role by Stage of Life 26%
Future-Proofing Your Career 16%

Chapter 5. Get Work Done in an Efficient and Focused Way % People Who Chose It
26. Translate the Organization’s Mission Into Goals That People Understand (OGSM Frameworks) 44%
27. Align People’s Objectives With Corporate Goals (OKRs, Performance Management and KPIs) 63%
28. Systematically Analyze and Optimize the Work Team Members Do (DILO - Day In the Life Of) 46%
29. Use A Structured Approach to Continuous Improvement (Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)) 44%
30. Systematically Identify What Needs to Be Done (Gap Analysis) 47%
31. Conduct Post-Completion Project Reviews (After Action Review (AAR) Process) 41%
32. Use Specific Agile Techniques, Such as Scrum (Agile Project Management, Effective Scrum Meetings) 21%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Document Functionality Needed From a User’s Perspective 30%
Cascading Objectives Down from Level to Level 29%
Use Traditional Waterfall Project Management Methodologies 19%

Chapter 6. Solve Problems Efficiently % People Who Chose It
33. Get Systematically to the Root of a Problem (Root Cause Analysis) 61%
34. Identify the Many Possible Causes of a Problem (Cause and Effect Analysis) 52%
35. Map Business Processes Clearly (Swim Lane Diagrams) 47%
36. Solve Problems by Capitalizing on What's Going Well (Appreciative Inquiry) 44%
37. Bring People Together to Solve Problems (Improving Group Dynamics) 74%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Analyze a Process for Possible Points of Failure 44%
Use a Structured Formal Problem-Solving Process 36%
Sense-Check the Outcome of a Problem-Solving Process 21%
Organize Large Volumes of Data Easily Into Common Themes 17%

Chapter 7. Make Smart Decisions % People Who Chose It
38. Decide Whether a Decision Makes Financial Sense (Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR)) 56%
39. Choose Between Options and Consider Multiple Factors (Decision Matrix Analysis) 43%
40. Consider Many Factors, Such as Opportunities, Risks, Reactions and Ethics in Decision Making (ORAPAPA) 73%
41. Analyze Systematically What Could Go Wrong with a Decision (Risk Analysis and Risk Management) 48%
42. Prioritize Risks by Impact and Probability of Occurrence (Risk Impact/Probability Chart) 44%
43. Avoiding Psychological Bias in Decision Making 31%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Follow a Systematic Comprehensive Decision-Making Process 36%
Choose Between Options by Looking at Their Value and Their Likelihood of Occurring 36%

Chapter 8. Foster Creativity and Innovation % People Who Chose It
44. Developing New Ideas by Understanding User Needs (Design Thinking) 68%
45. Innovate by Studying People’s Day-to-Day Use of Products and Services in Depth (What is Business Ethnography?) 42%
46. Innovate by Making Sense of How the Business World is Changing (Scenario Analysis) 46%
47. Innovate in all Areas of Your Business, Not Just With Products and Services (Doblin's 10 Types of Innovation®) 47%
48. Generate Many Ideas Using Free Association (Brainstorming) 62%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Using Structured Frameworks to Improve Products 16%
Making Things Better by Reverse Brainstorming 16%
Coming up With New Insights by Drawing on Analogies 26%
Innovating by Applying Generalized Solutions That Worked Elsewhere 20%

Chapter 9. Understand and Motivate Other People % People Who Chose It
49. Leading by Example (How to Be a Good Role Model) 47%
50. Listen Carefully and Intensely to Others (Mindful Listening) 65%
51. Understand How to Motivate People (Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors) 47%
52. Working Effectively with People from Different Generations (How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace) 35%
53. Develop Emotional Intelligence, Self-Control, Empathy and Social Skills (Emotional Intelligence) 68%
54. Motivate People to Go Above and Beyond (Transformational Leadership) ?%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understanding the Different Sources of Power and Using It... 21%
Leading in a Way That Is Consistent With Your Personality 25%
Avoiding Common Leadership Mistakes, Like Laziness, and Poor Judgment 26%
Understanding Body Language 32%
Developing Empathy 32%
Removing Demotivators and Using Motivators Effectively 21%

Chapter 10. Get the Best From Members of Your Team % People Who Chose It
55. Delegate Effectively (How Well Do You Delegate?) 47%
56. Be Clear About Who Is Accountable for What (RACI Matrix) 36%
57. Give Effective Praise and Recognition (Giving Praise) 51%
58. Build Team Members’ Self-Confidence (Building Confidence in Other People) 50%
59. Support Your People Effectively (Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention) 51%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Using Coaching Techniques Effectively 37%
Being Open to People Telling You That You Are Wrong 28%
Using Questioning Techniques to Help Others Tackle Problems 26%
Boosting Morale with Random Acts of Kindness 18%
Running an Effective Meeting or One-On-One Session 17%
Motivating People Without Using Bonuses 16%
Guiding a Team Through a Successful Group Process 16%

Chapter 11. Communicate Effectively % People Who Chose It
60. Understanding the Key Principles of Good Communication ((7 Cs of Communication) 72%
61. Speaking Well in Public (Better Public Speaking) 33%
62. Writing Effective Emails 38%
63. Build Good Work Relationships With People at All Levels (How to Make "High-Quality Connections") 73%
64. Communicate Effectively Across Cultures (Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions) 51%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Structuring and Delivering an Effective Presentation 31%
Being Assertive in the Workplace 30%
Making a Great First Impression 22%
Using Business Storytelling 21%
Crafting an Effective Elevator Pitch 10%

Chapter 12. Hire and Develop Good People % People Who Chose It
65. Design Jobs Effectively (Writing a Job Descriptions) 39%
66. Recruit Effectively (How to Run Competency Based Interviews) 49%
67. Assess Individual Development Needs (The Skills Matrix) 49%
68. Give Effective Feedback (The Situation – Behavior – Impact Feedback Tool) 61%
69. Coach People Effectively (GROW Model) 42%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Coaching Informally on a Day-to-Day Basis 38%
Planning and Delivering a Training Program 33%
Doing Appropriate Succession Planning 30%
Planning Talent Management (e.g. 9-Box Grid) 23%
Identifying the Right Type of Management Training 20%
Selecting Appropriate Recruiting Tests 16%

Chapter 13. Build A Great Team % People Who Chose It
70. Formally Define the Team’s Mission, Authority, and Resources (Team Charters) 42%
71. Brief Your Team Clearly (Team Briefings) 34%
72. Building Trust Inside Your Team 67%
73. Build Openness and Self-Knowledge Within a Team (The Johari Window) 51%
74. Find the Specific Motivators That Work Best With Your Team (Team-Specific Motivation) 39%
75. Manage Negative Behaviors and Resolve Conflict (Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team) 52%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understanding the Stages Teams Go Through, From Forming to Performing 31%
Understanding Team Roles (e.g. Belbin) 27%
Being a Great Team Player 27%
Helping Team Members to Manage Emotion at Work 20%
Using Team-Building Exercises 17%

Chapter 14. Deal With Difficult Management Situations % People Who Chose It
76. Resolve Conflict Effectively (Win-Win Negotiation) 61%
77. Deal with Bad Behavior at Work 43%
78. Dealing With Office Politics 27%
79. Dealing With Poor Performance 57%
80. How to Be Tactful 40%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Dealing With Conflicts of Interest 24%
Apologizing Effectively 22%
Delivering Bad News Well 21%
Dealing With Rumors at Work 17%
Using Role Play to Prepare for a Difficult Situation 15%

Chapter 15. Develop Situational Awareness % People Who Chose It
81. Understand Your Organization's Mission and Values (Mission Statements and Vision Statements) 62%
82. Scan for External Changes That May Impact Your Organization (PEST Analysis) 38%
83. Understand How Companies Compete in Your Market (The Value Curve Model) 36%
84. Understanding Your Organization's Core Competences (Core Competencies Analysis) 48%
85. Organizational Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT Analysis) 61%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understanding Business Models and How They Change 25%
Understanding the Product Life-Cycle 20%
Developing Commercial Awareness 15%
Understanding Your Unique Sales Proposition 15%
Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility 15%

Chapter 16. Get Ahead in The Wider Organization % People Who Chose It
86. Understand How Others in The Organization See You (PVI Model) 34%
87. Ask for Feedback (Stop – Keep Doing – Start) 54%
88. Build Honest Rapport with Others (Building Rapport) 63%
89. Develop Effective Networking Skills (Professional Networking) 61%
90. Influence Your Peers to Get Things Done (Yukl And Tracey’s Influencers) 51%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Finding a Good Mentor 33%
Understanding the Hard and Soft Facets of a Large Organization 30%
Managing Your Boss 20%
Leading Equals 15%
Getting Recognition for What You Have Done 15%

Chapter 17. Make Change Happen in Your Organization % People Who Chose It
91. Understanding Stakeholders’ Needs and Bring Them with You (Stakeholder Analysis) 66%
92. Understanding the Key Steps of a Change Process (Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model) 56%
93. Anticipate People’s Emotional Reactions to Change (The Change Curve) 56%
94. Persuade and Influence People Effectively (The Influence Model) 61%
95. Lead Change Without Formal Authority (Stealth Innovation) 53%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Understand How to Start a Change Process Effectively 46%
Define a Value Proposition for a Project You Are Working On 32%
Changing People’s Minds When You Are in a Minority 14%

Chapter 18. Work Well with Customers and External Stakeholders % People Who Chose It
96. Understand the Customer’s Worldview (Developing Personas) 39%
97. Understand Your Relationship With Your Customer (Customer Experience Mapping) 64%
98. Understand How Decisions Are Made in Another Organization (Influence Maps) 27%
99. Decide the Best Approach to a Negotiation (Lewicki And Hiam’s Negotiation Matrix) 30%
100. Collaborate to Create Mutually Beneficial Outcomes (Negotiation Skills) 49%
Tools That Didn't Make the Cut From the Longlist
Use the Appropriate Negotiation Strategies for the Situation 28%
Deal With Unhappy Customers 27%
Look at Factors Other Than Price in a Supplier Negotiation 25%
Modelling Groups of Customers so that you can get Close to Their Specific Needs 18%
Track Where Customers Are in the Buying Process 10%