Four tips to hone your management skills
A manager’s task is to make sure that those that they oversee are performing to the greatest effect; you must get the best out of people. There’s no formula, no algorithm to good management; what works for one person might not work for another. Good management means responding to situations as they arise, each unique.
Faced with this sort of uncertainty, it can seem as if good management skills are either present from birth, or not. But this isn’t the case: try to work on these skills to help get the most out of those under your watch.
Set out a clear vision
One of the most common causes of underperformance in employees is when they are uncertain of the tasks that they need to accomplish. This can stem from a number of factors, from inexperience on their part to confused instructions. It is easy to take for granted what people know and know how to do, especially if you are well-acquainted with what needs to be done. Communicating clearly and simply is difficult, and refining this skill will reap dividends in your role as a manager.
Take charge of time
Among the key skills of any manager is ensuring that the work that needs to get done is done timeously. Some people are naturally good at spacing out their work across days, weeks, or months, but many are not. For bigger projects, it becomes essential to break down big tasks into smaller increments. This is somewhat of an art – harmonising a reasonable workload with time-effective delivery of work. Using shared calendars and having explicit deliverables will give your staff a good sense of what is expected of them, and will help you anticipate issues before they become trouble.
Seek improvement in all things
One of the great management philosophies of the 20th century, used most famously by Toyota, is kaizen, the Japanese word for continuous improvement. The essence of this approach to production is that workers are empowered to report any abnormalities in the work for which they are responsible at the moment of discovery, and in concert with their supervisors, find a solution to the problem. The consequence of this approach is constant improvement in the quality of product, and large gains in efficiency in the longer term. The kaizen approach extends beyond the production process – if you seek improvement in yourself, and your duties, you offer a model for others to do the same with themselves.
Create the best environment
People clash with each other, become distracted, lose motivation, face crises – all of which will have knock-on effects in how well they can perform their duties. When dealing with inter-personal conflicts and personal problems, your role as a manager of these issues must be irreproachable. Maintaining objectivity in these kinds of situations is far from easy, but if managed, will pay off down the line. Look to maintain a positive and inclusive working environment in which your staff can come to you when they have problems, and don’t hesitate to talk, if you notice that they are not engaging with their duties as they ought to.