What does it mean to be a manager?
The definition of a manager is a person who is responsible for controlling and motivating employees and for managing the progress of the organization. An example of a manager is the person who is responsible for customer service, who deals with customer disputes, and who supervises and controls customer service employees. There are different managers: office manager, sales manager, project manager, product manager, marketing manager, finance manager, etc. The most important thing for the successful performance of their duties managers can get through appropriate business courses.
What skills should a manager have to meet the challenge of managing people
Or see the lessons for managers in Sun Tzu's book The Art of War. This is an interesting story about Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and master strategist in 500 BC. His book, The Art of War, is one of the most respected treatises on strategy and required reading for senior officers in most of the world's armed forces. As we know, business has adopted much of the military in terms of strategy, logistics, management and operations since World War II. So this gem of 13 chapters, only about 10,000 words, is recommended reading for advanced management strategy courses.
Included in the book is a history that has valuable lessons for managers about management and giving instructions. The emperor, intrigued by Sun Tzu's book, summons him to his palace and challenges him to put his theories into practice. He asks him to train his 180 concubines to become an elite fighting force for his personal protection.
Sun Tzu orders the women to form two lines and places two of the emperor's favorite concubines at the head of each group as leaders. He explains to them that when he gives orders ("march forward," "turn around," etc.), every last one of them must obey. Finally, he asks them if they have understood the instructions, and after their affirmative nod, the drill begins. It so happens, however, that Sun Tzu's orders are met with the laughter of the concubines. He calmly says that if the orders are not clear, it is the general's fault, then repeats the instructions. The result is the same - the women start giggling again. Sun Tzu then says that if the instructions are clear and not followed, then the problem lies with the officers. He orders the guards to behead the leaders leading the two groups, ignoring the Emperor's loud pleas to spare them. When the executions are carried out, the concubines begin to carry out the next commands perfectly!
The lesson you, in your role as manager, can take away from this story is simple. It is your responsibility to make sure your orders are clear and understandable. If that doesn't happen, it's your fault. Or if they are quite clear, the cause of the problems comes from the employees. Of course, there are other ways to bring order instead of decapitating your subordinates. Giving orders to your people seems a very simple and elementary skill, but it is surprising that even experienced managers give ambiguous and ineffective orders that eventually lead to major crises.
You might think that orders are usually given to inexperienced employees or trainees, but this is not always the case. Highly competent and skilled professionals also need proper instruction to successfully perform critical, high-value tasks.
Simply put, management skills are the knowledge and abilities of people in a managerial position to perform some specific management activities or tasks. These knowledge and skills can be learned and practiced. However, they can also be acquired through practical performance of the required activities and tasks.
What is the manager's job?
Here are the most important functions of a manager:
The functions of a manager are the different roles that he performs in the organization. The manager is responsible for all events in the company and reports to the management. The seven main roles performed by a manager are.
What is the role of the manager
Let's now see exactly what these roles are and their importance. We start with the first role.
Planning - The basic step required for any project, whether big or small, is the planning stage. The manager needs to plan the schedule and give a plan on how the task is going to be completed with all the necessary details, and also the manager needs to have a backup plan that if this doesn't work out then what next. Example - there is a new project, how to start, what manpower is needed, what resources are needed, etc. Everything needs to be planned.
Organizing - Then comes the organizing part where the manager has to synchronize and has to make sure everything goes according to plan. Everything has to work according to plan, and if it doesn't, the manager has to research the problem and make it function according to plan. Example - a software tester is needed, so arrange the place, date and time to interview the candidates who meet the requirements for the job.
Staffing - In simple words, staffing means grouping people into different teams and assigning different tasks among them. If the team members have any disputes, then the team member should report to the team leader who will pass it to the manager and the problem will be resolved. Example - Assembling a new team for a new project.
Management/Leadership - It is the manager's responsibility to lead employees in all situations to avoid conflicts and delays in completing tasks. The manager should guide employees so that they get a clear picture of what needs to be done and how to do it. Example - a team needs a supervisor to take care of every completed, in progress or interrupted task.
Coordinating - This means bringing all employees together, creating effective relationships and making them feel comfortable to share their views and issues freely. Example - coordinating the schedule for a project.
Reporting - The supervisor must keep up-to-date on all tasks in progress and is solely responsible for reporting status updates to higher-ups; while all employees are required to report to the supervisor. Example - keeping the relevant directors informed of progress on relevant projects.
Budgeting - The task must be completed within the given time frame as well as be cost effective. The manager should be doubly sure that the total amount invested in the project does not exceed the given budget, and in case of an imbalance the budgeting manager should report to the management. Example - if the budget allows for three employees, then five employees cannot be assigned to the task.
Controlling - The last, but of course not the least, role the manager plays is to control everything. Whether it is the budget or the allocation of resources, everything must be in order. Example - You can't have all the team members getting leave on the same day as it affects the performance of the work.
What are the most important challenges for the manager
We have seen the different roles that a manager has to perform to maintain the balance of workflow in the organization. With all these responsibilities, there are some difficult challenges that a manager has to deal with while trying to balance everything. Following are some challenges that a manager has to deal with:
Managing Workforce Diversity - A manager must not create or encourage discrimination among employees. Employees from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities should be treated as equals, and pay should be given based on performance alone.
Improve quality and productivity - The manager's sole responsibility is to increase productivity without hindering quality. This can be done in two ways -
Total Quality Management - This is a constant focus on customer satisfaction through organizational process improvement.
Process Engineering - Focusing on the production of the product so that quality is not compromised.
Responding to labor shortages - If there is a labor shortage, then the manager must respond quickly to solve this problem by organizing the necessary labor so that the delivery of the product is not delayed.
Eliminate labor shortages - The manager must take quick action if there is a labor shortage, and secure backup plans so that there is no labor shortage in the future.
Improve customer service - The manager is challenged to continually improve customer service to survive in an ever competitive environment.
Improve ethical behavior - Managers need to make sure that employees behave properly and maintain good decorum in the company. These are a few major challenges a manager faces while trying to complete a project. In order to maintain work-life balance and for the betterment of the organization, the manager should try to solve these challenges at a level. First and foremost, we will put the skill of successful communication with subordinates and with his superiors.
Skills of an effective manager
Of all the skills you need to be a successful manager, effective communication is perhaps the most important but the most difficult to improve. That's because communication isn't just one skill. In fact, it's a complex set of skills that build on each other.
Whether you're a new manager, comfortable in your role, or an aspiring CEO, building these skills will help you lead team members, work collaboratively with the entire organization, and manage upward.
Here's an overview of each skill set, starting with the most basic:
Interpersonal skills are the secret ingredient that builds successful communication.
Knowing how to successfully engage team members and build relationships with superiors and colleagues can be worth as much as your success or failure.
The four fundamentals of communication are:
The skill of conveying information;
Speaking and oral communication skills.
Teamwork skills help you lead groups more effectively and work as a team in both formal and informal settings. You need to master both the skills of communicating with everyone on the team and knowing how to facilitate effective group communication.
This means you need managerial skills to :
Conflict resolution skills;
Skills to communicate objectives;
Knowledge of team members;
Use of email and other technical skills such as these are organizing meetings online , working with project management software etc.
Understanding skills allow you to communicate your knowledge and understanding to the people who work with you - bringing the leaders' messages to everyone on the team and making sure team members understand the company's strategy and goals. To achieve this, you need to know how to convey information, influence beliefs and motivate employees to do their best work.
These skills are:
Storytelling skills for better communication;
Making information relevant;
Persuasive communication and dialogue facilitation skills;
Skills for writing and creating documents, business correspondence;
Process management skills help you create and implement business processes more effectively that impact company performance.
How to make meetings matter;
Staff Release Skills.
Leadership skills are at the top of the communication skills hierarchy. Highly effective managers are expected to demonstrate leadership qualities. And because communication is an integral part of being an effective leader, the best managers possess exceptionally strong interpersonal communication skills that allow them to be effective in:
Gaining management support.
Technical skills are the skills that a manager possesses as a specialist in a particular field. These skills are needed to perform his job in the chosen profession. Technical skills include, for example, working with computer, machines, software and the like, but also here are the knowledge and skills of good sales, design, positioning in the market of products and services. Technical skills can be defined as learned competencies or qualities in a job or training. Managers use these skills every day. They need to be able to transfer these skills to their employees as well as to those higher up than them. It can be said that in most cases people become managers precisely because of these skills and because they are good at their jobs. Nowadays, digital skills are not the least. They are now an integral part of management in pedenterprises. Can you imagine a manager without a smartphone or other online communication device?
Technical skills are the first step in the development of a good manager. As the manager develops to a higher level in management, these skills become less important to his job because he can find people with these skills to help him.
Conceptual skills related to how the manager perceives, understands, and analyzes things from the whole picture of the problem or situation. This includes the ideas that the manager comes up with. These skills are related to the ability to look ahead into the future and anticipate different situations and likely problems, hence finding solutions to these problems in a timely manner before they arise. Strategic planning, such as the formulation of organizational values, policies, goals, can also be referred to as conceptual skills.
Unlike technical skills, which are used more by low-level managers in organizational management, conceptual skills occupy a larger part of the work of higher-level managers. They spend a significant amount of their time coming up with different concepts and predicting their effects on the organization.
Effective methods for applying management skills
Clearly articulate expected results
Be very clear about exactly what you want from the person, what product or outcome you expect at the end of the implementation of the set guidelines. This part is the most important. Making sure the desired end result is achieved is a battle half won. Can you write or articulate clearly and concisely what you expect to be done?
Most managers treat this part casually. When they themselves are not clear about the outcome, they are sure to pass on the same ambiguity to their subordinates. Even if the person fails to understand some of your instructions, if he is clear about the expected outcome, he will master the situation. If you give credit to the intelligence and ingenuity of your employees, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Don't give too many instructions
The more instructions, the less understanding and the greater the likelihood of non-compliance. The human brain more easily understands and remembers information that fits between two and five points/steps.
Whether it is a process or a set of instructions, it is better to limit them to a maximum of five. Easy-to-understand language and logically consistent steps will help. You can write them down and ask a colleague to read them out loud for easier comprehension, this will be a sure way to success.
Act with measured and slow steps
People tend to rush when giving instructions. They speak almost at the speed of their thoughts, but the ability to listen can be much more limited. We speak faster than we can understand. You would be surprised how much the listener has missed if you ask them to repeat your words. With this in mind, the lecturer should reduce his speed to 50% of his normal speed.
It may sound presumptuous, but if you ask the employee to explain to you what he has understood, it is almost certain that there will be gaps in his understanding of the information. You can do this check in a delicate way. Ask him if he has any suggestions or doubts.
Reassure your colleagues that they can always come back to you when they are unsure about an issue. People tend to give instructions and assume that all instructions are understood and will be remembered perfectly. Reassure employees at the end of your meeting with them that you are available if they have difficulties. It is also a good idea to monitor progress, especially if there are people who are still learning.
Giving instruction in e-learning
When it comes to non-present, self-paced learning, such as an e-learning course, giving instruction to learners becomes even more difficult as the tutor does not have real-time, face-to-face interaction with them. Communication is devoid of the non-verbal element that forms more than 70% of all communication. The usual instructions such as "Click the next button", "Click here to read more", "Drag and drop", etc. are now redundant as learners have become proficient enough to work without such basic directions.
In eLearning or any self-paced learning program, instruction should be an integral part of the user experience (UX). The graphical user interface (GUI), navigation, colors, animations, and other elements should make moving through the learning material intuitive, eliminating the need for explicit instructions. Learners should not be stuck trying to figure out what to do next. An excellent example of intuitive design can be seen on the screens of most smartphones.
What are the other actions you can take to become a successful manager, see in the following lines.
How can you improve your management skills?
1. Define your vision and spread it
To get your people to give their best, you need to have a clear vision of the company's goals. What impact do you want to have and on whom? How do you want to change the world? Make sure your vision is clear and that everyone understands it.
- Present your vision to the team.
- Send an email after the meeting.
- Write your vision on a piece of paper and hang it somewhere everyone can see.
2. Find out what motivates your employees
To become a better manager, you need to understand what your employees want. This way, you can make them sympathetic to the company's vision by presenting them with the opportunities they want. This will give meaning to their daily activities.
- Organize group brainstorming sessions as well as face-to-face meetings with your employees to better understand their needs.
- Connect opportunities with their desires.
- Ask for their opinions on important issues and problems, and ask them to share ideas.
- Make them feel part of the path to success.
3. "By clothes they welcome, by mind they send."
Look in the mirror and think - what impression are you leaving on people? Is it positive or negative? Think along the same lines about your team and company.
- Establish a consistent dress code for all employees.
- If you want people to think of you as a passionate and creative person, wear red, bright blue, yellow.
- If you want people to think of you as an authoritative person they can trust, wear black, blue, gray.
4. Communicate clearly and accurately
An important part of good management skills is good communication. Your employees need to be able to share their goals and work towards achieving them. This will increase their commitment to the common goal as well as the energy they put into achieving it.
Ask questions and push your employees to do the same. This will help you understand if they are confused or if the information is being conveyed clearly enough.
Organize meetings to discuss current issues, future plans, and employee concerns. These meetings should by no means be very long and boring.
- Use proper verbal communication to engage the attention of your team.
- Use written communication to reinforce vision, goals and opportunities.
Have you worked at a company where neither the pay nor the work was particularly impressive, but you stuck around simply because you liked your manager?
People often underestimate the power of saying "Thank you" or "Great job." Before you became a manager, how did you feel when your boss told you that you did your job very well. You felt great and wanted to perform even better, right?
Public recognition of success is something even more powerful. So, praise your team to senior management, to potential clients, to current clients. It will give them confidence and self-esteem that will invariably have a positive impact on their productivity.
6. Make work more fun
If your employees feel comfortable with the company and the people they work with, they are much more likely to stick around. Enjoying each other's work will make them more motivated, and together you will achieve great success.
So, encourage your employees to have fun. We all have to go to work every day, but that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.
7. Learn how to retain your best employees
Every year, thousands of companies lose their best employees because of competition. So, give your most valuable employees what they deserve. Take a look at what salaries are available in the market and be as competitive as possible.
Also, remember that successful employees are that way because they always want to perform better and better. If their duties become monotonous and boring, they will stop wasting their time. Therefore, constantly give them new challenges and train them in different areas.
Show your employees that their actions lead to improvement in the company. If they don't see the benefits of the work they put in, they won't be as enthusiastic and productive.
8. Deal with toxic employees
Come face to face with disgruntled employees. This will help you understand whether the source of their behavior is personal or professional.
Meet face-to-face with the rest of your team and ask for their opinions. Ask honest and direct questions. Use the information to make the best possible action plan.
Then, meet with the disgruntled employee again and advise them how they can resolve the issue (if it's personal) or how they can improve their performance (if they're not doing their job well enough). Do not give up until the situation is fully resolved.
If your actions do not have an effect, you may have to let that employee go.
9. Admit your mistakes
To be a good manager, your skills must include the ability to admit your own mistakes.
If you admit your mistakes, it will make you more relatable to people. By gaining the trust of employees, you will become a stronger leader and they will be more loyal to you.
Admit your mistakes and ask the team for ideas on how you can solve the problem.
Admitting mistakes shows strength of character and will encourage your team members to do the same.
10. Learn how to manage former colleagues
If you become a manager of people you were colleagues with until yesterday, explain to them how your role and responsibilities have changed, and how this will have a positive impact on them. Tell them you are open to ideas and thank them when they make a suggestion.
Remain yourself. If your former colleagues liked you before, continue to maintain a good relationship with them. This will increase their productivity.
11. Do your job well
As we have already said, many people become managers for the first time because they are very good at their job. Sometimes these are the most responsible employees in the department or the ones who have achieved the best results. If you want to become a manager one day, first of all you have to prove yourself as an employee and a specialist in your field. This way you will have the necessary confidence that you understand your job and are familiar with all the intricacies of it. When you become a manager, you will be very familiar with the problems in your field and how to deal with them.
12. Find a mentor
The best way to become a successful manager is by learning from one. If your company doesn't have one that you admire, you can look elsewhere for good managers. Sometimes good managers are leaders who are popular and famous personalities. Observe how these people behave, what they say, try to understand what their values are and what is the reason they are so successful. It will be helpful to read autobiographies of famous managers and leaders to learn from their experiences and wisdom to inspire you.
13. Learn to communicate well
The Bulgarian proverb "A good word opens iron doors" is not to be underestimated if you want to become a good manager and leader that people love and follow. We're not saying you should only say nice things all the time, be insincere or anything. But the power of communication is very important when you work with people. Sometimes you will have to say some not so nice things, but you have to do it in a way that doesn't offend or cause a loss of motivation and confidence. Communicate with people in a way that inspires and motivates them, even when they are wrong, highlight their strengths and skills. Enrol in an appropriate "Communication Skills" course that can reveal to you the skills you need to develop in yourself how to apply them.
14. Improve your presentation skills
Managers' jobs often involve presenting plans, budgets, projects to both employees and other managers or stakeholders. Therefore, it is good to develop these skills to be able to influence and impress the audience. Sometimes you may have a unique idea, but if you don't know how to present it properly, it may never be accepted by others. Good presentation skills can help you develop your career, and you can sign up for a course in "Presentation Skills" by following this link.
15. Show empathy
Empathy is a very important quality that will help you a lot in your work as a manager. It means putting yourself in the other person's shoes to understand the reasons for their behaviour. When managing people it is important to show them that you care about them and when you show empathy, others feel that you are trying to understand them without judging them and without looking down on them from a position higher in the hierarchy than them. You can do periodic face to face meetings with each of the employees, find out about the difficulties they are facing with work, you can also ask them about their personal life, if they feel comfortable to share you will create some closer relationships with them and reduce the distance they feel. Empathy is linked to emotional intelligence, and you can learn more about it in our Emotional Intelligence course, which you can sign up for if you click this link.
16. Avoid micromanagement
You need to be clear on the tasks and projects that everyone on the team is doing, but try not to get too involved in every step of the employees' work. Doing so creates stress for both the employees and you. Too much interference in employees' work is seen as a lack of confidence in their skills and acts as a demotivator. Thus, employees will never learn to be independent and take responsibility. Try to give employees more freedom and only intervene in their work when it is really necessary. You can find out about the ins and outs of delegation in our course "Effective Delegation for Managers".
17. Read a lot and develop yourself
Education is important for building management and leadership skills, but it's not enough. Successful managers are continuously developing, are aware of new trends in their field and are interested in everything related to their work as managers. It is advisable to attend seminars and courses for managers, as well as those for personal development. A good tip is to take 30 minutes or 1 hour a day to read a new article about management, an interview of a successful manager, watch a video on this topic, read a book about management, all this will help you develop your skills and learn something new every day.
Everyone dreams of being a manager, many become managers, but few become successful managers.
Being a manager is about constantly working on yourself and improving and developing your skills. If you want to become a good manager start learning and developing those skills now. Remember that you first need to be a good specialist in your field, learn the technical skills, then you will need to develop the conceptual skills. Without having humanities skills it is almost impossible to become a good manager, no matter how good your technical or conceptual skills are. To develop these skills, the "Managing Teams: Become the Manager Everyone Likes" training will help you.
And most important of all to be a successful manager is to love the job!
If you want to improve both your own management skills and the skills of your employees you can use one of our ready-made e-learning courses on soft skills. We also offer bespoke e-learning courses - based on materials supplied by the client or created by our specialist trainers.