Becoming a great manager is a hot topic for anyone on their career path. At first, it seems like you will never become one when you are in the early stages of your career. Then one day, you are promoted, but the growth does not stop there. There are good managers and great managers, and the truth is that becoming the latter is more complicated of a process than you think.
I’ve gathered some suggestions for you from three of our managers at KMS Technology that presented at our annual KMS Manager Meetup last month. While most of the presentations are tailored towards managers at software outsourcing companies, I’ve found that many of their recommendations are appropriate for anyone, in any business.
A Great Manager Starts With You
The first feeling many managers express when they are promoted is anxiousness. Suddenly you are overwhelmed with nervous feelings, worry, and lack of confidence. No matter how you feel, remember, someone trusted you enough to promote you to this new role. And while you won’t become a great manager overnight, if you stay focused on the journey, you will get there.
One of my favorite books for new managers is “The Rookie Manager,” by Joseph Straub. It sets up a list of skills managers need to master, including: managing your time, planning your day, leading your people, building your team, making effective decisions, delegating authority, hiring and training new team members, motivating your team, performance appraisals, disciplinary items, and effective communication.
A long list, right?
In my presentation, “Surviving Your First year in Management,” I narrowed this list to five basic concepts managers should consider and practice so that they can thrive in their new career path.
- Manage yourself, first and most important. The best way to manage yourself is to never stop growing. Have high expectations of yourself and stay disciplined.
- Work on and master people skills. Managers require great people skills to work with others and effectively lead. Ask yourself how you will work with others? How will you inspire your team? How will you help in their development? To be a great manager, the answers to these questions should be required commitments.
- Successful execution is how you contribute. Actions speak louder than words, and your action speaks for itself. Take ownership of tasks, set deadlines, commit to them, and get the work done. Before committing to contributing, understand the situation and know how you can best contribute. Get support and help from others who compliment your weaknesses. Be sure to always act with integrity. And never, ever, blame others when you fall short – this is the hardest one to do.
- Communication is the key to success. Now you’ve found yourself a middle man, between your staff, and your manager, or the company. Always start with being a good listener, hear the details, and communicate them upwards with accuracy. Being a good listener isn’t just for getting work done more effectively, it’s for creating trust between you and all of the team members you interact with.
- Optimism is the ultimate and best approach. Optimists accept the reality, but they also see the reality in a different angle than most. Using a lens of openness, understanding, and caring, great managers can find the solution to almost any problem and turn it into a positive.
A Great Manager For Your Company & Team
To expand on the role of the manager as a middle man, Dai Tran, VP of Delivery at KMS Technology, presented “Balancing Business and People,” to highlight the need of managers to be fair and balanced with their team.
What Your Team Wants:
- Financial Reward
- Career Opportunities
- Enjoyable Work – including flexible schedule and working with interesting products.
- Job Security
- Social Relationships
What Your Company Needs:
- Revenue Growth
- Knowledge & Skill Growth – including technical skills and methodology.
- Commitment – to innovation, from team members, and low attrition.
He suggested that “business is the energy that keeps the company alive. The company lives for its people. The balance is the optimum point at which the company and its people will last. The great manager is the one who understands and maintains that right balance.”
A Great Manager For Your Clients
A managers’ job often has them working directly with clients. Managing expectations is a critical part of this role. Du Nguyen (http://www.kms-technology.com/leade…), VP of Delivery at KMS Technology, gave our managers a few tips to effectively manage client expectations for more successful project outcomes.
- Over deliver. If you over deliver on your promises to clients, no one is unhappy. Make it a habit to exceed expectations.
- Build and maintain personal relationships. Keep this in mind – people are what fuel a business, and thus relationships are key. Building relationships isn’t for leverage or manipulation, they are to build trust and maintain open channels of communication.
- Communicate regularly and address problems directly. As recommended early in this article, communication is critical. The best way to solve any issue or conflict is to be upfront and honest. If you can meet face-to-face, that’s ideal. If you can’t, a phone call is better than an email.
- Document expectations for accuracy. What is written is what should occur, and it helps hold your team accountable with what you agreed on at the beginning of the project. It also allows your client to remember the goals you set should they ever feel you aren’t meeting the requirements.
While no one could possibly list every tip you’ll need to become a great manager, these are some of our very favorites. We hope that if you are already a manager, this is a nice refresher for what you can do to grow. And if you’re not yet a manager, these are good skills to develop that will help you get that promotion one day.