Getting into management should be one of highest peaks of anyone’s career: you get the power to move the organisation in different directions, you get paid more and you finally get an army of people to help you to do your job. However, for many people, management is a struggle to become respected and have people listen to you seriously. With some thought and preparation, however, it’s easy to learn the skills you’ll need to be seen as a strong and competent manager. For further tips I recommend reading Robert Half's 11 tips but here are the 5 I see as most important.
Management vs Performance
There is a big difference between being a good worker and being a good manager. Anyone can be good at their job, whether it’s from natural ability or learning the ropes, but high performance and an understanding of the role doesn’t transfer to being able to tell other people how to do the job. Strong management is all about leadership; making people realise that you know what you’re talking and that the decisions that you make are always for the good of the team. You don’t necessarily need to have done that particular job to be able to manage a team of people to success.
Whilst there are no sure fire ways to succeed in management, as each person will have their own style and each organisation will need a different type of leadership, the following points should help you in any situation:
- Get your hands dirty-a recent survey of government employees showed that the leading bugbear people had about their managers was that they only give instructions, never practical help. A strong manager shows their ability in the field through helping out with difficult cases or simply giving an overworked a break by taking a small task off their hands. Getting stuck in and showing that you understand the job will gain you the respect of your employees who will know that you’ll have their back in a tricky situation.
- Show humility-Management is all about being seen as a person as well as someone who gives the orders. Allow yourself to show emotions when talking to your team as they’ll understand that you live and breathe just like them. Likewise, don’t be afraid to hold your hands up if you’ve got something wrong or don’t know the answer to a question. This sets the tone for the rest of your team and you need a culture where acknowledging failure is acceptable. You can then show your strong management by demonstrating how to deal appropriately and proactively with these behaviours.
- Make, and stick to decisions-the importance and consequences of the decisions you make as a manager will increase the higher up the ladder you go. Whilst you’ll want to give yourself as much of the information as possible before deciding, your team will expect to see you making these choices efficiently and decisively. Once you’ve made a decision, you then need to sell it to them so that they buy into it to help you push it forward, so stick to it even if you’re not 100% sure you’ve got it right.
- Deal with issues before they explode-as a manager, you’re not only in charge of the output and direction of your team, but also for the wellbeing and happiness amongst the team members. Operating an open door policy is a strong way to show that you’ll listen to their concerns and problems and make you seem approachable. However, it will all be wasted if you don’t then deal with the issues, even if it means an uncomfortable conversation between work colleagues or having to dress someone down for underperformance. The key thing is to strike early before any gossiping or backstabbing starts to reduce staff morale.
- Show you care-the final part of being a strong manager is to be a people person. Your team is full of individuals who have lives, hopes and problems outside of your organisation, and paying attention to these will gain you the respect of the team. This can be something as small as remembering significant other’s names, offering a shoulder to cry in hard times or letting people out early if you know they have a busy weekend planned. You can also build your reputation by putting some of your managerial earnings into the team, and you’ll be surprised at how much good favour a lunch run or a round of drinks at the end of a project will get you.
These top tips aren’t meant to be an exhaustive list of strong managerial actions, but they are ones that you’ll see in operation in good leadership practice across all kinds of organisations. As you get more experience, you’ll begin to develop your own management style that stems from these building blocks, but never get so complacent that you are unable to change the way you lead to meet the changing needs of the company and above all your employees.