developing management skills

March 25, 2010

Management Development Tips – Learning Outside From The Workplace

Great opportunities are all around managers in the workplace when they want to improve and grow their skills.

There are a range of people who can support them and sometimes, to add to the mix, there are opportunities to learn from further afield too.

Like never before, where managers have the vision to see the possibilities as they develop their skills and career, there are no end of opportunities they can experience, even aside from the usual workshops and training sessions.

As we become aware of the responsibilities we have to improve ourselves, we will listen to the wisdom of mentors, who have done the role we have and, as they say, ‘gotten the tee-shirt’!

If we are truly fortunate, we will enjoy the support of our own line-manager who will have the care to nurture us through their challenging coaching, which will draw through us our latent capabilities.

We will see and hear the works of employees, colleagues and our peer group managers who can share experiences and ‘what worked’ and ‘what didn’t’ too.

In the workplace therefore, there is much going for us where we can expand our basic abilities we have to become much, much more.

For those managers who care to look further afield, there are ideas and strategies for you that can pop up from the most unlikely of sources.

Here are three rather different places to look for a little enlightenment, in the broadest sense!

Similar Organizations

Where you can take a close look at what competitors or other like-minded organizations do, there are often useful insights you can glean from what they are about.

You can assimilate tactics from these, but to find out about their management activities that will help you develop personally, you need to know more.

It could be that you listen carefully to those of their people you come into contact with and extrapolate the management behaviors that drive their sharp-end employees’ performances.

Different Organizations

If you are confident enough, you can draw just as much valuable information from very different organizations and businesses.

By being very broad in your awareness of what other management teams do in their workplace, you can start to draw out ideas that might work in a very different environment.

Here, you need to be prepared to move away from tunnel-vision around your industry and prepared to take a risk or two with the integration of very different management behaviors.

Would Ricardo Semler’s ‘Maverick’ washing machine self-managed team tactics work in a retail organization? (The answer is yes, by the way!) How might the core activities of an ambulance service be paralleled with the creative team focused on new ice-cream flavors?

There will be links you can use, if you look hard enough and they will give you entirely new ways to consider some of the ways you and your people currently do things.

Other People

Even when you get a life and out of the day job, there are vital lessons you can learn. Where you are on a day off or vacation is the ideal time to make observations of anyone around you that might give hints and clues that you could find useful.

How does the deckchair rental guy make sure that no-one gets off without paying? How is crowd control balanced with the drive to give extraordinary entertainment at a rock concert.

Watching a child explore and be curious about the world around them can be incredibly revealing for you – and how can you add value to your own team from what you see there as the child plays?

How do your observations of these mini-scenarios fit for you in, say, your expanding coffee-shop business?

There are more – and the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

The key here for managers who really want to maximize their performance, is to be open to the possibilities that will ‘ring a bell’ for them from anywhere.

Then notice things that appeal as interesting just from the curiosity you have been able to show

And finally, work on how you can translate what you see and hear for yourself, taking care to be accepting of ideas that comes from unexpected sources, if even just for the heck of it!

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Basics, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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March 18, 2010

Management Development Tips – Introducing New Skills Fast

Growing your management skills needs vision and action. In the busy workloads many managers have, they can find they struggle to embed any learning they get.

And, of course, there are ways to make sure that not only do you really ‘get it’, but that it works strongly in your favor as you progress.

One of the biggest challenges managers find when making the effort to learn and grow, is how to find the time to learn and then practice new skills, despite much learning these days being designed to be ‘on the job’.

So here’s a three-step (plus a stretch!) process, that seems to be how it works best for many of those managers who have taken their own steps to be better at their role.

It is an easy route to success, but not everyone will have the same challenges – we are all different and we learn in different ways as well, of course.

1. Read, Listen or Watch

Not everyone finds reading a book as easy as all that, so by learning in whichever mode you prefer, you will have an easier way to consider the contents.

Whichever way you work, try to find a short synopsis before the meaty stuff, so that you have a good overview of the contents in advance.

This will enable you to create a picture of the whole thing, which works well for many people.

2. Make Just Five Key Points

Next up is a more thorough read, listen or view, which is best done the same day that you skim it as above. When you go through it in the detail in which you decide upon, it’s a great advantage to make some notes as you go.

Because people learn more from less, you might need no more than 5 key points, just right for keeping you focused, as well as enough to get you excited!

3. Practice Soon Three Times

With the key points you’ve noted (remember, just 5!), take a look at the whole concept and, depending on its character, get into it as soon as possible.

Try to have a go at a small, relevant development activity ‘three times in a row’, where you can.

If there are a few activities you can think of, try each one three times before you move onto the next one.

Review what happened each time and notice what you learnt.

4. Stretch Bonus – Share With Someone Else

This is a great extra tip if you really want to make this a great learning experience for you.

They say that the most effective way to learn something is to get the instruction and then teach it to someone else.

Now you can’t manufacture opportunities all the time, but by being aware that opportunities might arise, you will ensure that you are ready to share just when the moment comes.

By giving these ideas a try out, you will be surprised how much more effective you will be as you learn and develop your management skills.

Filed under Blog, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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February 26, 2010

Management Development Tips – Learning Opportunities Are Everywhere

As most managers will tell you, learning our trade is a life-long experience that never stops.

The learning will come from many different sources, when you care to look…

From the first day we take on the responsibility of management, to the day we finally step back, there are always improvements we can add in.

We will develop our skills in the workplace through the experiences we will have.

We will enjoy learning through training programs we are fortunate enough to undertake – where we take the learnings back to implement in our own way, back in the workplace.

Yet there are many opportunities that can be very creative indeed, often outside the workplace, which are all around us, if only we look.

Here are three examples, which might sound a little wacky, yet are stimulating and intriguing possibilities that can excite a manager’s development, when prepared to take a risk or two in thinking outside that box.

Time to give it a go!

Nature

Sometimes just a walk in the park is enough to trigger some thinking that will develop the way you manage.

Have you seen the flight path of a green woodpecker? It’s flap-flap-flap/rest. Effort made till the right speed is achieved and then take a break. Efficient management is more effective with breaks in the energy devoted.

Why do some tree shoots make it when others don’t? What’s the link to your management?

Metaphors

Metaphors from nature, are perfect for giving a totally different perspective to issues that you face and as such are huge assets for the future.

Metaphors are where a descriptor can be applied in a number of situations where they find some sort of relevance.

If you look for them, they are around.

How can the release of 1,000 white balloons be related to what you do? What is the relevance of traffic light sequencing? Why are snowflakes so symmetrical?

Sound weird? Maybe. But then again, if you create one more tool in the box from watching hang-gliders on a thermal-rich afternoon on the scarp side of a hill or how dolphins school together their prey on National Geographic, it’s worth it.

What stories can you apply to the management you offer?

Off The Wall

Whilst there are ideas that are a bit wacky like those mentioned about, there can be much to gain from speculating yourself as you go.

In these cases, it would be easy to deny relevance and move on past. Slow down though – wait. The inkling you felt came for a reason. Where you feel there is a draw for you to linger and be curious, try going with your flow for a while and see just where you are led.

Developing your skills as you progress as a manager is valuable for you. How you go about it will be different for everyone.

We all learn differently, so it’s often good to see things in as many different ways as you can and be brave; take risks, see from the world around you what might work in the team you lead.

Big – and small – ideas may come from well, anything really!

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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