How to be a better manager
Here are nine ways to become a better manager.
- Define your goals.
- Communicate accurately.
- Plan ahead.
- Predict problems before they occur.
- Use your personal initiative.
- Observe the results you are getting.
- Give plenty of appreciation and praise.
- Nip conflicts in the bud early.
- Keep a continuous flow of small improvements.
Let us say a few words on each set.
1. Define your goals.
The team exists to achieve its goals. Therefore, goal focus is the first and most important element of leadership and management. The leadership team selects the goal, the management team carries them out in practice.
Every action the team takes should be in accordance with the goal. The team should resist doing anything that does not contribute, in some way, to the achievement of the goal.
The managers first role is to define the exact nature of the goal.
2. Communicate accurately.
The goal must be communicated to all those who need to know. The goal should not be communicated in terms that are open to multiple interpretations.
The goal should be explained in language which is impossible to misunderstand.
The rule to remember is; "Any message which can be misunderstood, WILL be misunderstood, by someone".
Misunderstandings cost time and money to correct. They are often attributable to poor initial communications from the management. If you want to be a better manager, then practice the art of using accurate language.
3. Plan ahead.
All goals need plans. A goal without a practical plan is a wish.
Plans need to be detailed, logical, practical and well communicated. Detailed means complete in every respect. Logical means based on all the known facts. Practical means properly funded and resourced.
Well-communicated means everyone knows what they are doing and how their work fits into the whole programme.
Good managers are good planners.
4. Predict problems before they occur.
Not only should managers be good planners, they should be good at trying to predict and pre-empt possible problems that may occur. It is better to avoid a problem than try to correct it after it has happened. So, predicting likely problems BEFORE the event, is a key management skill. The ability to predict possible problems is the constructive use of negative thinking.
Good managers prevent problems before they have a chance to occur.
5. Use your personal initiative.
In a similar way, good managers act on their own initiative. They don't wait to be told to do things.
- They do the right thing before they are asked.
- Some people do the right thing only if they are asked.
- Other people won't do the right thing even if you ask them a thousand times.
Don't wait to be asked to do the right things. If you see an opportunity to add value to the customer, or the organisation, then take action on your own personal initiative.
6. Observe the results you are getting.
Every action you take creates a result.
You need to be continually checking the results of your most recent actions, to see if they are taking you closer to your goal, or not.
The act of checking the results of your recent actions, against the standard of your goals, is called, measuring the feedback.
Feedback is a key concept in management. Feedback is information that relates the results of your most recent actions, to your goals.
Feedback comes in two varieties. Positive and negative. You have to know whether the feedback is positive or negative and you need to respond to the feedback accordingly. (See the next note).
7. Give plenty of appreciation and praise.
If the feedback is positive, then you need to tell the team that they are doing well. You need to give them the thanks, praise and appreciation that good feedback suggests is owed to the team. If the customer feedback is positive, then share out the praise with the rest of the team.
Never forget to give praise, appreciation and thanks to the team, when the feedback from their recent actions is positive.
8. Nip conflicts in the bud early.
When the feedback results are not good, or when the feedback results are negative, then you need to take that seriously and think about what changes have to be made in the way things are currently being done.
If the feedback is negative that means that the plan is wrong, or the actions are wrong, or the relationships are wrong, or the communication is wrong, or the attitude is wrong. If the feedback is bad, something is wrong and the manager needs to figure out what, or who, is wrong and take immediate action to remedy the situation.
Failure to tackle poor performance issues is a common failing of management.
9. Keep a continuous flow of small improvements.
Based upon feedback results, managers should be continually implementing improvements. Improvements are based upon: either recent positive feedback, which suggests what they should be doing more of, or negative feedback, which suggests what they should be doing less of.
Every week the organisation should be slightly better than it was the week before.
These improvements are small, incremental, evolutionary and constant.
They are done on the personal initiative of the management team, in response to an updated assessment of the results, the goal and the state of the market in which you are operating. This market is always in a state of change, and therefore, your organisation should be responding to and even predicting and shaping the change.
This act of continuous improvement is the ninth skill of management.