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The Work Practices of Effective Managers

The Work Activities of high performing Managers

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Becoming a better manager does not only benefit your team; it will also improve your work-life, making the day to day much more enjoyable. When one does not know how to manage, and each day feels like a struggle, being in charge can be difficult.

Unfortunately, many new managers regret taking the position, regardless of the opportunities working within a more senior role presents.

It is a sad fact too many managers experience avoidable pain, simply because they were never taught the basics of their role, in essence- leading others with skill and poise.

And it’s not their fault…

How Most Workers Get Promoted to Management

It is all too common. A frontline worker with strong technical skills is presented with a managerial opportunity. This is a result of their ability to consistently produce results. Perhaps this was you?

One day your boss called you into a meeting and revealed that a new managerial position has opened within the department. Furthermore, she thinks you would be perfect.

This is a great opportunity equating to more money, power, and status, so of course you accept, who wouldn’t? Onto a better life, out with the old and in with the new.

Now looking back several months after your promotion, it hasn’t gone that well. Every day is a struggle wrapped up in self-doubt and negativity. What happened, it was not meant to be like this…

Frontline Work Verse Managing

Unlike a frontline worker, an expert solely responsible for performing technical work, managing others is a whole new ball game, management is about people and dealing with people problems- which entails a different set of skills.

The Four Functions of Management

The Four Functions of Management

Essentially, there are four functions a manager is responsible for. These consist of:

  1. Planning and Goal Setting
  2. Organising Departmental Resources
  3. Leading Others to Produce
  4. Controlling and Systemising

1. Planning and Goal Setting: This includes pinpointing corporate objectives, setting performance goals, creating plans, and the identification of essential resources to perform the work.

2. Organising Departmental Resources: This involves determining staff needs (human resources), ensuring adequate and up to date equipment, technology (hardware/software), and the outsourcing of required external support including experts and consultants.

3. Leading Others: Leading involves setting and communicating departmental direction aligned with organisational goals and objectives. Furthermore, generating and broadcasting a team vision, and then influencing and persuading team members to produce results. Leading also includes motivating your team, monitoring staff engagement, handling conflict, coaching for performance, and a dozen more aspects associated with leadership.

4. Controlling and Systemising: The coordination and allocation of resources to support team members in conducting their work. This function also includes creating systems and processes (policy/procedures), garnering feedback, and adjusting aspects of the strategy for improvement.

These are the essential functions of management that provide an overarching view of a managerial role. These functions can then broken down further into various sets of micro-skills and practices that enable managers to perform their work better.

Micro Skills and Practices of Effective Managers

Micro Skills and Practices of Effective Managers

Time Management Skills: There is never enough time in the day to fulfil all the tasks asked of a manager. The endless needs of the team, problems with work colleagues, and the ever-increasing expectations of upper management- this all takes up a large chunk of time.

Active managers recognise how valuable their time is, and so practice robust boundary enforcement and time management strategies. These include writing to-do lists, carefully planning tasks, eliminating wasteful work, scheduling meetings on their terms, and continuously delegating work.

Moreover, delegating to others is a large part of what makes managers successful.

Delegating Projects, Tasks and Activities: In looking further into the commissioning of tasks, it is helpful to first distinguish between actual delegation from allocation. A manager’s role has always been to allocate work to team members. This entails allocating work assignments that employees were hired to perform.

Take the example of a software developer. Their job would involve writing code and playing a key role in contributing to software projects. The manager is responsible for allocating the correct work assignments and monitoring for performance.

Delegation is Distinct: Delegating involves handing work to employees that may not directly fall within their list of responsibilities, yet still has relevance to their role. For example, the manager asking this same software developer to organise a one-off client event/ or take part in an ongoing team reporting function.

As a rule, the delegation of work must be mutually beneficial to all involved. In the example above, the employee has an opportunity to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills. The manager’s workload is reduced, freeing her up for higher-value activities. Overall, organisational capabilities are improved due to increased efficiencies and a multi-skilled workforce.

Eight Steps to Delegating Work

Delegating work may take the following order:

  1. Picking an assignment.
  2. Selecting the appropriate team member- taking into account their current workload, skills and experience.
  3. Setting up a delegation meeting.
  4. Communicating to the team member that you need their assistance and asking first if they are happy to assist.
  5. Explaining the work assignment in detail and gaining buy-in.
  6. Agree upon a delegation plan.
  7. Confirm acceptance.
  8. Monitoring and supporting till completion.

Communication Skills: All effective managers communicate well with organisational members. Communication skills include practising assertiveness, persuasion through language, and using strong body language- including eye contact and voice tone.

Furthermore, effective managers insist on building and maintaining strong professional relationships with all team members. How do they achieve this? Through holding regular one-on-ones.

These in-person meetings provide an opportunity to build and strengthen the rapport between managers and team members, and as rapport and trust improve, better communication occurs.

Providing Skillful Feedback: Effective managers are also continually offering feedback to team members. Providing regular feedback enables employees to reflect on their work and find opportunities for improvement. Feedback, however, must always be presented skillfully within a constructive frame. When feedback is structured in a way that is corrective yet empowers, it can make a vast difference to the recipient’s performance.

Coaching: Coaching of direct reports is something all great managers do. Coaching, when used effectively, opens opportunities for employees to learn new skills and increase their overall contribution to the organisation.

How managers conduct coaching sessions:

  1. Firstly explain to the team member that coaching is a tool used to help them to build and enhance a set of chosen skill sets. Furthermore, performance gaps can also be used as a process to uncover areas for coaching.
  2. During the onset of a coaching program, an overall goal must be set, which manager and team member focus on when conducting sessions.
  3. The team member should be the one to pick the goal; however, the manager should still influence choices as chosen goals need to be a basis for improvements in organisational performance.
  4. As an option, the team member selects a goal for the first engagement, the manager alternatively chooses the next target.

In Conclusion

In conclusion great managers have a toolbox they extensively use, involving a specialised set of work practices and skills that can be called upon when needed, some are used regularly while others in specific circumstances.

Hopefully there is enough information to get you moving. In future articles, we will discuss several of these practices individually and in more detail, as well as look into conflict resolution, motivation, staff engagement and a dozen other topics.

Thank you for reading this article, your comments and insights are welcome.

Please also check out our full list of managerial courses

The Aptitude Team

Aptitude Management is a corporate training provider operating throughout Australia. We provide public workshops and in-house programs specifically designed for managers. We can be contacted on 1800 753 087.

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