Developing Your Skills as a Manager

If there's one thing that just about everyone who works in a company needs to know, it's how to be a good manager. Now, before you start to protest and explain that you're in an individual contributor role and there's no way that you need to know how to be a good manager, I can promise you that you'd be one hundred percent wrong.

The same skills that you acquire as a good manager as skills that you can use in every aspect of your life. Whether it's interacting with your partner or your friends or even with someone in customer service who's giving you a hard time, you can use management skills to handle just about any situation.

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There's more to management than simply getting the job done. At the end of the day, you also need the respect and the cooperation of those around you. The manager who simply thinks that all it takes to stay on top is to make sure that deadlines are met is the manager who will quickly find himself plummeting to the bottom.

First and foremost, if you are already a manager, stop thinking of yourself as "the Boss." That's not the way it works. Instead, think of yourself as a part of a team. The minute that you set yourself up to play the role of a tin god, that's the time that you're going to find yourself suddenly alone -- and with a whole lot of problems on your hands.

A good leader is also a good listener. Learn to hear what the others in your team are saying. When you have a conversation with them, focus on what it is that they're telling you -- rather than what you want to say in response. The more effective you become at listening, the more successful you'll become at managing. (And, needless to say, a good listener will find themselves doing well in all other aspects of their lives -- because the more that they listen, the more that people will want to be around them.)

Learn to lead by example. When a project comes along, make sure that your team knows that you're
there for them and that you want to be involved. The more interest and consideration that you put into understanding the project, the more successful your team will be at getting things done.

On the other hand, you want to make sure that you don't micromanage. There are going to be times when you're going to panic and decide that you need to be involved with every aspect of a project. I'm here to tell you those are the times that you need to back off a little bit. When I was in my micromanagement stage, I would probably spend more time hovering over a project than in getting anything else done. One time, there was a project on a tremendous deadline that I knew we weren't going to make. A family emergency came up and I had to leave for a few days -- and when I returned, the project was completed. As my assistant told me, "Once you got out of our way, we were able to move forward."

That's a lesson that I haven't forgotten.

Something else that a good manager does is ask for input as to how you're doing with the team. Of course, you want to make sure that they understand that you want true feedback and not something that they think you're going to want to hear. When you get that input, make sure that you take it under consideration. One thing that I've learned is that if the same input comes from two or three individuals, there's a very good chance that it's something that I need to work on.

Learn to give out positive feedback -- both on an individual and on a group basis. This is something that works in all aspects of a person's career. Whenever someone does something that is above and beyond their job description, let them know that you noticed. It's the little things like that which can mean the difference between a happy and a disgruntled employee.

In times of personal need, you have to be there for your team. If you're able to have your team understand that they are more important to you than whatever project you're working on, you will be well on your way to building a team that is loyal to you and that will go the extra mile in delivering when crunch time comes.

So there you have it -- some simple steps that you can use in being a good manager.

More than that, though, these are good rules that you can use in being a good person.
Until Next Time,

Jeane' Elliott Bennett


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