SummaryRemember when you first became a manager? Remember when you first realized that management consists of lots of ups and downs rather than a static state with a few twists? Did you find a helpful colleague to help you? Or did you have to find out for yourself that those ups and downs make a manager’s job very demanding. It is something of a gamble. You can reduce the odds?Management Is SocialThere’s only one way to learn how to manage: on the job, working with people. You can study management endlessly. But the day to day, on-job practice of management is how you develop your skills. The many variables that constitute good management can be simulated in classrooms. But they can only be practiced effectively on the job. Management’s a social skill.The Work Of A ManagerIt’s difficult to be definitive. Managers themselves tend to repeat slogans and definitions. They explain their “responsibilities” and “obligations”.Managers’ day to day work depends onwhat they believe their job to be
experience and training
career, goals an individual values
how the manager perceives others’ expectations
the amount of power he or she believes he has
the managers’ perceived authority
the assessment that peers will make of his or her performanceThe manager is influenced by all of this as well as their day to day job needs. As I said, it can be very demanding. Notice that there’s little mention of managing performance: the social side of the job.Notice too that there’s no mention of those 90 year old hoary chestnuts of management theory:, plan, organize, lead, control. Nor should there be!The Myth Of ControlThe textbooks tell us that managers have control. The reality often seems to be quite the reverse. Many managers have full control over what they do. All sort of situations and circumstances influence actual control in unexpected ways. Managers learn quickly that change is normal. And it’s often accompanied by totally unplanned consequences.Recognize The RealityIt really doesn’t matter how technically skilled the manager is. How good he or she is at managing the performance of employees is the real issue. That’s the reality.Three Things To Concentrate On1. Develop your communication skills. It really doesn’t matter how brilliant, intelligent and visionary you are or how outstanding your product or service is. If you can’t convince clients, prospects and staff of the value of what you do, you’ll fail. I happen to believe that effective face to face communication is the core management skill. It’s irreplaceable.2. Grasp the Great Secret. One of the great Duke Ellington’s musicians once complained about an apparent error in a musical arrangement. The story goes that Ellington replied “you’re paid to play. I’m paid to think.” That’s the “great secret”. You’re paid to “manage”: employees are paid to “operate”. You’ll be unable to manage effectively until your staff can operate effectively.3. Produce perfect employees. That’s your first job. You’ll find many ideas about how, in other articles and on my blog. Remember this: until your employees are totally competent to handle all the operating work in your business, you won’t be able to manage effectively.ConclusionLots of variables affect the work of a manager on a day to day basis. Effectively managing the performance of employees contributes to the variables. But it’s the key to effective management.Accept the uncertainty of your role. It is something of a gamble. The key is to limit the effects of the ups and downs and of course, produce perfect employees.
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