Even if your title doesn’t say “manager,” you can still harness the power of management skills!
The next time your boss says, “Handle it…” will you be ready? Do you feel 100% confident managing projects, people, and situations independently?
It’s a fact: If you want to be an “exceptional assistant,” a fully contributing member of your team, you need the skills of a manager to survive and thrive. You need skills to remain positive, skills to make decisions, manage change and manage tasks, solve problems, negotiate what you need – watch problems dissolve and roadblocks fall as you use the time-tested management skills.
Basic Management Skills
There are four basic management skills anyone must master to have any success in a management job. These four basic skills are the plan, organize, direct, and control and are discussed separately in detail below.
Planning is the first and most important step in any management task. It also is the most often overlooked or purposely skipped a step. While the amount of planning and the detail required will vary from task to task, to skip this task is to invite sure disaster except by sure blind luck. Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Managers plan for three reasons
- Establish an overall direction for the organization’s future
- Identify and commit resources to achieve goals
- Decide which tasks must be done to reach those goals
- involves tasks that must be performed to attain organizational goals,
- outlining how the tasks must be performed, and
- indicating when they should be performed.
A manager must be able to organize teams, tasks, and projects in order to get the team’s work done in the most efficient and effective manner. As a beginning manager, you may be organizing a small work team or a project team. These same skills will be required later in your career when you have to organize a department or a new division of the company.
Clearly, there is a lot of overlap between planning the work and in organizing it. Where planning focuses on what needs to be done, an organization is more operational and is more focused on how to get the work done best.
When you organize the work, you need to:
- determine the roles needed,
- assign tasks to the roles,
- determine the best resource (people or equipment) for the role,
- obtain the resources and allocate them to the roles, and
- assign resources to the roles and delegate authority and responsibility to them.
Directing is the action step. You have planned and organized the work. Now you have to direct your team to get the work done. Start by making sure the goal is clear to everyone on the team. Do they all know what the goal is? Do they all know what their role is in getting the team to the goal? Do they have everything they need (resources, authority, time, etc.) to do their part?
Pull, Don’t Push
You will be more effective at directing the team toward your goal if you pull (lead them) rather than push (sit back and give orders). You want to motivate the people on your team and assist and inspire them toward the team goals.
It is essential that the manager be able to control the team’s activities.
In the steps above, you have planned the work, organized the resources to make it happen most efficiently, and directed the team to start work. In the control step, you monitor the work being done. You compare the actual progress to the plan. You verify that the organization is working as you designed it.
If everything is going well, you do not need to do anything but monitor. However, that seldom happens. Someone gets sick, the database sort takes longer each iteration than projected, a key competitor drops their prices, a fire destroys the building next door and you have to evacuate for several days, or some other factor impacts your plan. The control step now dictates that you have to take action to minimize the impact and brings things back to the desired goal as quickly as possible.
Often this means going back to the planning stage and adjusting plans. Sometimes it may require a change in the organization. and you will have to re-direct everyone toward the new goals and inspire them. Then, of course, you control the new plan and adjust if needed. This cycle continues until you complete the task.
Leading (Influencing) means guiding the activities of the organization members in appropriate directions. The objective is to improve productivity.
Getting others to perform the necessary tasks by motivating them to achieve the organization’s goals. The crucial element in all functions.