Becoming an Effective Manager

Some years ago when I volunteered to help start a local community group, I quickly realized that I knew nothing about the discipline of business management. I learned a lot of management lessons the hard way during the years I was involved with that group and hope to help you become more effective by recounting some of those lessons here.

One of the key tasks of effective managers is to competently convey The Message to subordinates. Regardless of the level of management, every manager has a message that guides her work. She must have satisfactory answers to the questions what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we are doing it. For some managers, the message will be tied to a corporate mission statement. For others, the message will be project-specific. But there will be a message. Managers who have a clear understanding of the message and can effectively communicate it to subordinates have a much better chance of meeting corporate goals.

Communication is crucial to effective management. Communication involves conveying messages to others, asking questions, and listening. Each aspect of communication plays an important role in management. Effective managers acknowledge the plethora of communication hazards that threaten to derail each message they attempt to communicate. They request feedback to ensure that each party understands the message the same way. And they listen thoughtfully as others explain their understanding of the matter at hand. When miscommunications occur, effective managers focus on getting everybody back on track rather than on placing blame.

Another aspect of effective management is organization. Successful managers understand the value of organization whether personal or organizational. If a manager is not naturally organized, he will find tools, and even people, who help him stay on top of his responsibilities. In addition to personal organization, the effective manager recognizes the effect of organization on corporate systems as well as overall productivity. He employs appropriate delegation of responsibilities as one aspect of his organizational plan.

Effective managers are human and recognize the humanity of others. They appreciate every employee under their lead and treat them respectfully. They do not express favoritism. These managers recognize their limits and the limits of others as well as their own strengths and the strengths of others. They help subordinates recognize and make the most of their own strengths.

Perhaps most important and least common today, effective managers take responsibility. They accept responsibility for fulfilling the goals of The Message and do not defer blame when the team fails to achieve goals or uphold standards.They hold themselves accountable as stringently as they hold subordinates. They recognize that they set the bar and lead by example.

We can all benefit from periodic introspective evaluation. How many of these traits can you honestly claim as strengths? How many would your employees say you possess? The good news is that all these strengths can be learned and, with practice, mastered.