Tuesday, October 12, 2010, AM | Leave Comment
Most people like to be managers at some point in their lives. For some the sooner, the better. When you become manager for the first time, there are lots of things you can do to rectify the problems you saw in other managers.
Before you became one, you saw your manager at times to be stubborn, inflexible and just plain incompetent.
Now that you are in charge, how can you make things better for yourself and especially for your group members?
Observe, Listen And Learn
These are the three qualities you must have, at a minimum, to be a good manager. These are known in the industry as Soft Skills. If you are more methodical, you would like to keep a log of some sort to refresh what you observed, listened and at times learned. However, don’t rush. Take your time to know what’s critical and what’s clutter and thus grow into the job. Take small steps to change the process of how things were done before. Make it an on-going effort.
Start with a clean slate. Have previous prejudices against an employee that you may have heard thrown out the window. Make a note of their best behavior and strength individually. Don’t poke in their weaknesses. Learn about their aspirations and see what they are capable of and what they want to accomplish in their career. Be helpful.
Planning, Attention, and Commitment
Once you are in a position to know and understand each member’s strengths, start planning and pay attention to the big picture. Formulate your strategy showing where and how your department fits in within the company’s business objectives. Propagate that to your group members and your immediate higher-ups.
If professionals are working in your group, manage projects they are working on, not the project members. It’s best to manage projects by not letting slip the deadline. Managing employees would fall into place almost automatically. Be a facilitator so the members working on various projects have all the resources available that are needed to accomplish what they are working on.
Report to higher-ups
Report regularly to your higher-ups. Inform them about what your group is working on. If you know a project cannot meet the deadline, inform your managers right away and seek help in solving the problem why it is slipping its original schedule. That may be more important than anything else in your management career to inform your superiors (I hate the word superior. That in turn creates the word inferior.)
Be a diplomat not a politician
Represent your group with your higher-ups. There is a difference between diplomat and politician. The latter tends to hide the truth whereas a diplomat will always try to work things out by shear intelligence and compromise. Be truthful with yourself, your bosses and your group members.
These are all Soft Skills
You don’t have to have MBA or Ph.D. to develop your soft skills. These are all human skills that, with a little hard work, can be achieved by almost anyone. So roll up your sleeves and start working in one direction only. And that is to formulate strategy to advance the business objectives of the company.
In a Nutshell
Now that you are a manager, act like one. The best managers work by consensus, sharing information and encouraging the group members to ask questions. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t have an answer. However, it’s best to find one.