No one doubts that hands-on experience is the best way to become a better manager. It takes time, effort and making lots of mistakes to call yourself a good team leader: the time spent in a managerial position is directly proportional to your skills.
But getting there takes, in consequence, years and perhaps decades. When you join a company you might have the goal of becoming a manager, but if you don’t know how to lead others and lack the skills to do so, maybe you will have a long wait ahead.
What managers manage?
Managers are key employees in the organizational chart of every company, since they are the people in charge of understanding the leadership’s strategic goals and initiatives and then leading the human resources to be aligned to those goals. That organization may be flat, vertical or matrixed, but management responsibilities fall into these three categories:
To manage processes: Managers are responsible for the conceptualization and implementation of workflows of processes to achieve the goals of the company.
To manage people: Managers are expected to guide the employees to complete tasks connected to specific outcomes, goals or metrics.
To manage expectations: Managers must report what work is to be done and what realistic outcomes are possible for a particular goal, to help the leader to take decisions about the company objectives.
15 Tips to improve your management skills
You can get some leverage to become a better manager following these tips and advice that we have compiled.
When you manage a process, you are able to identify inefficiencies and work on them. Therefore, your staff will work in a more productive, efficient and profitable environment.
When you follow a certain set of optimized processes for specific tasks, you will get positive results, repeatability and efficiency. If you and your staff understand, are consistent and follow these procedures, positive outcomes will emerge.
Make the required adjustments
Despite the need to be consistent, if you see a way to improve a process, do what needs to be done and optimize. Tradition is not as important as results, so be flexible to adjust processes as needed and give the opportunity to your staff to suggest better ways to do things.
Innovate when you can
A single innovation can be the difference between a profitable industry and a leading company and that innovation doesn’t need to be a new product: changing a process into a more productive and efficient one can really make the difference and be incredibly valuable to the company.
Monitor the money
Managers are expected to help the organization to make money. Be aware at all times of how your department uses its budget and try to save money for the company making processes more efficient.
Managing human resources is a required skill for all team leaders. That includes, of course, dealing with team members, outside contractors and even superiors. You will do so better following this advice.
Embrace the leadership principles
Keep in mind that “leadership” and “management” are not the same. Not all managers are leaders, so you need to improve your leadership skills in order to inspire others and lead your staff.
Work with your human resources
Remember that you are only as good as the people on your team. As a manager most of the time you don’t get to pick who works for you. Maybe they don’t meet your high standards for the team, but they are yours. So identify the areas that need improvement and focus on them.
If you oversee a considerable group of employees or tasks, you will be tempted to treat everything with the same code. Policies and standard operating procedures are useful, but the key is to be flexible enough to face the occasional problem that certainly will arise from time to time.
Motivate your team
High morale and motivation makes engagement and productivity. Therefore, you need to learn how to motivate your team to achieve the key goals and initiatives of the company.
Build your team
Sometimes, motivation is not enough. Your group needs to work as a team to win, so you need to develop team-building skills, and be clear that individuals don’t accomplish big objectives. Everyone needs to do their part and win or lose together.
Management is not always about going down in the organizational chart. You also need to build a good relationship with your superiors in order to be aligned with the company goals and expectations.
Directors that are far from the day-to-day activities of a team or department tend to have unrealistic expectations of projects and initiatives. Your job as a manager is to let your bosses know what’s possible to achieve in a given circumstances in relation to the desired outcome.
Fine-tuning the top managers expectations or getting the necessary resources to reach a desired goal is a skill that you need to acquire. To become better skilled at managing expectations, read and apply these tips to your work:
Be more data-driven
When a new initiative comes, the first you should do is get the numbers and metrics that the project will impact. With those key performance indicators at hand, you might be able to compare the current state of your resources and give a realistic idea of time frames and goals that can be achieved.
Focus on alignment
You need to be sure that everyone on your team understands the impact of their work, and how it aligns with the business goals of the organization. If an employee knows how and why their work is important, they will build a sense of responsibility and engagement that is crucial to do better.
Gain communication skills
To manage the expectations of both your stakeholders and staff, you need to be an excellent communicator. So take every chance available to improve these skills that allows you to become a better manager.
Deliver regular performance updates
People need to know their progress on a regular basis . Performance updates allow everyone to understand if a given project is on track to be successful and to get to the outlined goal. If not, you have the chance to make adjustments to improve performance or reduce the expectations.
Practice Ethical Management
To manage expectations, you have to have an ethical conduct in business. So strive to be ethical and expect everyone in your team to do the same, even if that implies reporting unethical actions.