Cheat Sheet

Complete MBA For Dummies

From Complete MBA For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Kathleen Allen, Peter Economy

Before you earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree, you can still apply MBA-level knowledge in your career: Be a better business manager by efficiently delegating responsibilities among your employees and successfully rewarding those who do a good job. Hone your design and marketing skills by creating an informative and easy-to-use business website and a brief but clear marketing plan.

How to Delegate Tasks among Employees

No manager can do everything alone, MBA or not. Delegating is an effective tool that business managers can use to achieve goals. If you delegate work, responsibility, and authority to employees, you'll increase the amount of work accomplished and often with better results. Delegation is a great management tool when done right, so follow these steps to help:

  1. Communicate the task.

    Describe to your employees exactly what you want done, when you want it done, and the end results you expect. Be clear and unambiguous and encourage your employees to ask questions.

  2. Furnish context for the task.

    Explain to your employees why the task is important, how it fits into the overall scheme of things, and any possible complications that may arise during its performance. Encourage employees to ask questions, and don't get defensive if your employees push you for answers (someone always will).

  3. Determine standards.

    Everyone needs to know when they cross the finish line. Agree on the standards that you'll use to measure the success of the task's completion. These standards should be realistic and attainable, and you should avoid changing them after performance has begun.

  4. Grant authority.

    Empower your employees with the level of authority required to complete the task. They can do without constant roadblocks or standoffs with other employees.

  5. Provide support.

    Determine the resources (money, training, manpower, advice, and so forth) your employees require to complete the task and then provide them.

  6. Get commitment.

    Don't assume that your employees will automatically accept the assignment; you must make sure that they do. Reaffirm your expectations and confirm your employees' understanding of the commitment to completing the task.

How to Reward Employees Effectively

As a business manager, you know your employees will be happier, perform better, and stay at their job longer when they're recognized and rewarded for doing a good job. Do your part as manager by using these guidelines for effectively recognizing and rewarding employees:

  • Specify the behavior you're rewarding. When you reward an employee, be sure that you're clear about exactly what behavior merits recognition. Say, for example, "You did a great job yesterday afternoon when you helped that customer figure out which product was the best for her needs," or "I really appreciate all the extra effort you put into the Scanlon project."

  • Give the reward sincerely. People greatly appreciate sincere expressions of thanks, but they won't accept insincere or false praise — in fact, they may be insulted by it. Only offer your employees rewards and recognition when they've truly earned them.

  • Be positive. When you give rewards and recognition, do so in a positive and uplifting way. Your goal is to inspire the employee — and, in turn, his or her colleagues — to continue exhibiting the behavior you're rewarding. And never immediately follow praise with a reprimand!

  • Give the reward as close to the event as possible. To have maximum impact on employee behavior, give rewards as soon as possible. Waiting days, weeks, or months will greatly lessen the impact and perhaps extinguish it altogether.

Design Tips for Effective Business Websites

MBA-level executives know that a well-designed business website is critical for attracting customers and generating sales. When customers access websites, they want to find information quickly. The easier it is for your customers to use your website, the more likely it is that they'll take action — such as registering at your website, answering company-generated questions, or purchasing product.

Try these tips when designing your business's home page:

  • Grab customers' attention. For instance, you can create a specific headline that grabs readers' eyes. If your user is searching for gardening books and enters those words into your site's search engine, you want your site to pop up with a related headline. It should have the words "gardening books" in it rather than something completely general, like "Find any book you want here!"

  • Use images to convey your message. Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but it also takes up less space!

  • Motivate customers to act quickly. Put a time limit on what they're looking for. For instance, offer a discount if they purchase an item today. There's no quicker way to get people to act than by giving away something for free. If you want your users to register for your site, for instance, consider giving them a free newsletter.

  • Offer customers payment options. They should have a number of ways to pay for the products or services you're offering. For example, you can offer an online payment service such as PayPal, and you can accept credit cards either online or through a toll-free number. After you design your home page, test it with users and track the responses you get. Create several versions of your home page—practice makes perfect!

Developing a Concise Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan can be an elaborate 50-page business plan or a simple paragraph. In fact, many professional marketers suggest the simple one-paragraph plan because it's focused and identifies the key components. A productive one-paragraph marketing plan has the following elements:

  • Purpose: What's the marketing plan supposed to accomplish?

  • Benefits: How will your products and services satisfy the needs of the customer?

  • Customer: Who's your primary customer, and what's your strategy for building long-term relationships with that customer?

  • Company image: How will the customer see your company? Remember, customers will contribute to positioning your company in the marketplace.

  • Niche: What's the niche in the market that your company has defined and will serve?

  • Tactics: What specific marketing tools will you use to reach customers? You can utilize advertising, promotion, a Web site, publicity, and so on.

  • Budget: How much of your budget will you allocate to this effort?

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