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Being a boss isn’t easy. But if you figure out what you need to improve, change how you handle meetings, and take advice from experts, it can get much easier to be a better team leader.
Through this article, you’ll learn more about your own management and leadership style, as well as where you need to improve. Other apps help you get along better with your team and make meetings more efficient. And you can download a handy free ebook full of advice from product managers of successful companies.
1. Mind Tools Quizzes (Web): Test Your Management, Leadership and People Skills
Mind Tools, the repository of productivity and self-improvement resources, has a few interesting tools to figure out where you currently rank as a boss. You will know how you’re doing and how you can improve through a series of three quizzes:
- How Good Are Your Management Skills?
- How Good Are Your Leadership Skills?
- How Good Are Your People Skills?
Put together, these three skill-sets promise to make you a better manager. Each quiz has 20 statements, and you have to rate how accurately it applies to you. Your overall score is a fair indicator of how you’re doing.
But that’s not all. Mind Tools further explains your personality and management style by showing which statements apply to which traits that are essential to be a good boss. Go back and see what you rated in those statements and you’ll know where you can improve.
2. Icebreaker (Web): Get to Know Your Team
A good manager makes significant connections with their subordinates, forming a cohesive team that has each other’s backs. This can be especially difficult with a new team. So how do you get to know each other better? Icebreaker is a fun Q&A team app.
Start by selecting how well you know your team right now, whether it’s new (easy), already a tight-knit unit (medium), or so close that you’re practically family (hard). The app will then throw out question after question, whose answers will tell you more about the person.
The questions vary from whimsical to work-related. For example, one might ask which time of the day you are most focused and full of energy. The next one could ask what you think the next flavor and color of M&M’s should be. It’s all about getting to know each other better, and engaging in a conversation that brings down our shields.
3. Useless Meetings (Web): What Your Team Thinks About Meetings
A good boss ensures that meetings have clear objectives, run like clockwork, everyone gets a chance to contribute, and it yields results. However, as a boss, you might be deluding yourself into thinking you’ve had a good meeting, while your employees complain about how it was a waste of time.
Useless Meetings is an anonymous feedback tool that rates meetings based on some key points of how to run efficient meetings. As the boss, after your meeting, create a new survey at Useless Meetings and send the link to your employees. It’s completely anonymous, so they are free to give honest feedback without fear.
The quick 2-minute survey asks attendees to rate the meeting on a scale for different questions, such as if there was an agenda and it was met, the meeting’s timings, and how the employee felt in the meeting. There are also text boxes for general feedback.
As the boss, you view a dashboard of the results, which display an average of the employees’ ratings, and all the feedback text boxes. But make sure you save the unique link and feedback, there’s no sign-in option to save feedback automatically.
4. SoapboxHQ (Web): Free Templates for Every Type of Meeting
Not sure how to conduct a good meeting? Till you get the hang of it, SoapboxHQ has free templates for managers to conduct different types of meetings. The free version of the app only gives you group meetings, not one-on-ones.
The templates cover the most common types of meetings. These include basic meeting agenda, sales team meeting, project kickoff, brainstorming, SCRUM meetings, SWOT analysis, quarterly planning, all-hands meeting, etc. Start a meeting and go through the steps.
Each step has a dedicated amount of time for it. It is essential to stick to these times, so that you know you aren’t hosting unnecessarily long and boring meetings. You can even invite team members to the app and chat within it, or add the notes yourself. But you can’t assign steps to team members or add deadlines; for that, you’ll need the pro version.
If you’d like to have the same features but don’t want an app for it, Owl Labs has free meeting agenda templates that can be used in an office suite program or printed out on paper.
5. The Product Manager Handbook (Ebook): Free Advice From Successful Product Managers
What is a product manager? What are the roles and responsibilities? How do you successfully execute those duties? What are some secret tips and tricks to make the job easier? These questions vexed Carl Shan, and so he created The Product Manager Handbook.
Before starting his own stint as a product manager (PM), Shan interviewed several accomplished PMs from successful companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter. Shan and his co-creator Brittany Cheng then compiled all those interviews into this handbook. The resources page also has an additional interview with Ellen Chisa, PM at Kickstarter.
Each interview has that PM’s personal background and a summary of their answers, but it’s best to read the full text. That’s where you’ll get stories and examples that kickstart your understanding of how to be a product manager.
The Product Manager’s Handbook is available as PDF, Mobi, or Epub on Gumroad. You can download it for free, or pay whatever you think is a fair price to support Shan and Cheng’s efforts.
Download: The Product Manager Handbook (PDF, Mobi, Epub)
Download: Ellen Chisa Companion Interview (PDF)
Other Tools for Managers and Leaders
Now that you’ve learnt more about how you are as a manager, what the job of a boss really is, and have got a few ways to make team meetings better, it’s time to look at a few tools of the trade.
From a daily email to find out what everyone did to a checklist of recurring to-do’s for bosses, these are some other apps every team manager and leader needs. It’s also got a handy anonymous feedback tool to really understand what your employees think about you.