BookLife Talks with Norm Oshiro
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Individual Performer to Manager'Decades of management experience inform Oshiro’s first book, Individual Performer to Manager. The BookLife review said: “Oshiro's clear account of his career—including both achievements and failures—gives readers confidence in his advice… a handbook for success..”
What was the writing process like for Individual Performer to Manager?
I decided to write a book in 2003, and my process incorporated two parts: 1) collecting and writing bits of content over time and 2) compiling, organizing, and editing for publication. Developing the content was relatively easy, with material coming both from my own experiences as a worker and from several childhood memories, in which old-school values were ingrained in me. I collected the experiences and observations, in addition to teachable moments, as they occurred on the job in a Word document. As for the second part, the work of compiling, organizing, and editing was extremely grueling. Creating the table of contents to establish the topics and flow was the first step. Then, ensuring the advice was meaningful to the reader—all the editing, rewording, and rephrasing of the stories and examples—took the most time and perseverance. I tried extremely hard to ensure the reader would relate to and understand the message I wanted to convey. I wanted the reader to be able to take actions immediately and exhibit behaviors at work that would noticeably enhance their performance in the eyes of their team and management.
Why or how do you think this book is particularly relevant now?With my career and management experience, I discuss common factors for successful advancement and address the enduring need to work hard and with a sense of urgency, be responsible and accountable, demonstrate fairness and integrity, have empathy, and lead by example. This advice follows my decades of hands-on management of people, teams, and projects, which includes the methodical ranking of employees by their contributions and value to the team in order to fairly reward and provide opportunities for each of them. Then, with industry-wide cost-cutting, we woefully had to lay off people, starting with those at the bottom of the rankings. This should emphasize the need for people to strive to increase their daily impact and value.
What do you think is the single worst thing someone can do to damage his/her career?
As an individual performer: failing to meet commitments because you do not demonstrate the sense of urgency to get your job done. As a manager: not having the courage to personally hold people accountable for failing to meet their commitments or the expectations of their team, management, or customer.
If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?
My target audience includes people starting out in their careers and those new to management—especially those who struggle with self-confidence. I want to reach people seeking to increase their contributions to their team and manager. When I started my career, especially moving into management, despite receiving excellent training and benefiting from many books about management and leadership, I found large gaps when I attempted to apply the theoretical concepts to what I was experiencing in the trenches. These gaps remained even after I acquired an MBA mid-career. The gaps involved more of the soft-side people aspects. I try to bridge these gaps and discuss what people need to do through key success factors, using many examples and vivid stories of my successes and failures.
What’s next for you?
I’m developing presentation materials to take to students, groups, and organizations that might be interested in the career and management advice I offer in the book. Then, at some point, I’ll pull together additional subjects (much of which I already have) to complete and publish my second book.