Would you like to improve on your management skills? Whether you are a business owner, an executive, mid level manager, or beginning supervisor you can develop your skills which will increase the productivity of many of the people who report to you. Though simple in concept, these skills may require practice and dedication to master, unless you are a “natural” manager. (Even “natural” managers can improve their skills, and if you are a “natural, ” you already know that you can be even more effective. )
Working with people requires interpersonal skills that can come more easily to some people than others. Especially if you have been promoted because you have great technical skills and experience, you will want to avoid becoming a victim to the “Peter Principle. ” The definition of the Peter Principle is as follows…
The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.
[After Laurence Johnston Peter (1919–1990). ]
The level of incompetence suggests that people will rise to a level of management that they are untrained to do with success. Managing other employees with skill and competence is often the level that proves most difficult.
To become a successful manager requires certain awareness and then specific skills at communicating, motivating, time management, effective delegation, training, hiring winners, personnel evaluation (or appraisal), self-awareness, and healthy self-confidence. You can neglect any of these qualities/skills and still get by as an average or poor manager or you can confront the personal challenges and develop into a good boss and successful manager. Good, to great, interpersonal skills will help a lot but not everyone has these skills when are getting started in managing.
To become skillful, you first have to realize that may not be perfect and that you would be willing to make positive changes to some deeply held beliefs or habit patterns. Sometimes we have to “unlearn” habits or techniques that we have used, or seen used by our parents, teachers, ex-bosses, or mentors. As an example, have you ever seen a frustrated parent or manager yelling emotionally in an upsetting moment. There may even have been violence or intimidation expressed and you realize that in the modern world of work, this is not acceptable as a motivating or guiding management concept. These explosions of emotion may work once or twice, in the “short term, ” but will not work effectively for long term success. “Explosions” tend to damage relationships and may require too much time and energy to repair, which can be very difficult to do if your employment has been terminated.
There can be frustrations in interpersonal interactions, however, but appropriate managing in these difficult situations is what sets the great managers apart from less prepared, less successful managers.
1. Your personal motivation to be open to change and the desire to become a great manager is essential.
2. Self-awareness regarding your strengths, and more importantly, your challenges (your flaws/weaknesses) is very important. It is best to know, and understand, your own style of communication, your own motivations, and the difference in the styles and motivations of the members of your team so that you can communicate with, and then motivate, all team members most effectively.
3. Your abilities to communicate can be developed and enhanced to allow you to manage more effectively. Especially important is the ability to listen and the patience to really understand what you are hearing from your communication partner. (Do not rush to respond. Show respect and draw your partner out until you can clearly re-state what they are attempting to communicate. )
4. Negotiate a fair resolution, where possible. Rally your communication partners allegiance to your mutually agreed upon solution. Set a reasonable and verifiable timeline for accomplishment of the goal or project. “Clearly prioritize” the efforts of the project, the team, and each individual’s role in the project.
5. Offer support (and mentoring) along the way, without micro-managing along the way. Positive feedback and, most importantly, plenty of positive recognition (and celebration) for positive movement and ultimately for success will be worth your time and effort.
6. Show respect and try to see your partner’s point of view without overtly judging. Good delegation tolerates solutions that may follow a different path than you might have chosen. Though taking responsibility for their decisions and actions can be a very important step by your employee and should be discussed in the planning (job description) phase of the delegation process. (It is best, where possible, to allow for creativity by your team members. ) Find ways to get your people to “fall in love” with your project, and hopefully, your company by allowing creative input into the project development process.
7. Clarity is important and should include the “big picture” of what is desired for long term success of your organization and how all of your individual team members will fill the necessary roles to accomplish the objectives of the project at hand. (Everyone needs to know their roles and their value to the project. )
8. Honor and acknowledge as many individuals, and of course the team, as often and as much as possible. This is especially true when deadlines are tight, team work is good, and creative solutions are developed. Rewards and acknowledgement do not always have to be in financial rewards (though team members who are high “Utilitarians” will require appropriate remunerations or other forms of compensation for their successful work. ) Not everyone is motivated, solely, by money. This is where knowing your people will work as a successful retention strategy. Be creative in providing recognition and rewards.
9. You need to really care! Care about your team. Care about the project. Care about the company/organization, if at all possible. Your team will know if you do not “really care” and they will treat the project in the same way they see (or feel) their manager’s level of commitment.
If you find that you require clarification on any of these tips or could benefit from coaching to enhance your skills then find the best coach, trainer, or mentor to get you to the level you require. Do not think that you have to “re-invent the wheel” or figure it all out on your own, get feedback and assistance. Recognizing where you require assistance is the most important step you can make toward your eventual success. People who do not know how to ask for help are often the ones who do not reach their full potential. If your organization does not support you in your quest for improvement then consider doing this for yourself and possibly exploring other more supportive and empowering organizations.
Many managers have great technical: training, experience or skills, but have not been coached or mentored as managers. If you are looking for coaching or management development, please consider the Professional Management Coaching Program for manager skills training.
L. John Mason, Ph. D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction. " Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.
Please visit the Stress Education Center's website at Stress, Stress Management, Coaching, and Training for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the new telecourses that are available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.
If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.