10 Keys to Success for: Management

1. Be proactive

Don’t wait for things to fall apart before you decide to take care of them. If you see something on the horizon that might be problematic, nip it in the bud. Proactive managers earn respect for their abilities, reactive managers demand respect for their title.

2. Resolve problems quickly

Of course, you won’t be able to see every problem coming, but as soon as one arises, you must take care of it quickly and equitably. Whether it has to do with employees or clients, no one likes to wait around for the resolution. Look at the facts and do what is right for everyone involved.

Until a decision is taken, nothing happens. Managers who procrastinate are a source of frustration to staff. The staff might not always like or agree with the decision that you have made but they will prefer you to take a decision rather than procrastinate.

3. Lead by example

When managing, you should be able to handle job and workload of anyone beneath you. More than likely, this is true; however, it is important that your employees know that you can do what they do as well. Every once in a while, roll up your sleeves and help out your staff. They will know that you care and respect the fact that you want to be involved. This is not to say that you shouldn’t delegate workload—you definitely should, but showing them that you can do exactly what is expected of them says a lot about you and your company.

4. Let your presence be known

Don’t fall into the trap of arriving late and leaving early. If you are starting to do that, look back at number three. Your employees should know when you’re there and feel your presence even when you’re not physically in the building. Your place of business should run the same whether you are there or not. If it doesn’t, you need to make sure you are there a lot more.

Managers have to get out from behind their desk and make themselves visible. I hear managers complain about being so busy, they can’t possibly be away from their desk for more than a couple of minutes. I would argue if that is true, they aren’t doing their job. Part of management is getting out and getting in front of the employees. If a manager does not have time for this, they need to seriously re-consider their priorities.

By taking time out of your day to show you care enough about them as an individual to stop by and ask how they are doing can go a long way in building a solid relationship.

5. Customer service focus

Successful managers recognise that they have customers, even if they are not working directly with the end consumer or user of the product or service. Successful IT Managers see the users of the systems as customers. Accounts Department Managers see budget holders, employees whose salaries they process and suppliers they pay as customers.

6. Defining goals

The first step in performance management is setting the stage correctly—defining individual goals and aligning them with the corporate strategy. The process of setting goals should be a collaborative process between a manager and his or her employees. Once the company-wide strategy is established, individual goals should be created that support the "big picture". Major job functions and responsibilities, both shared and individual, should be addressed within a SMART goal framework.

Specific: Well-defined to inform employees exactly what is expected, when, and how much.
Measurable: Provide milestones to track progress and motivate employees toward achievement.
Achievable: Success needs to be attainable with effort by an average employee, with a bit of a stretch.
Relevant: The goals should focus on the greatest impact to the overall corporate strategy.
Timely: A goal should be grounded within a time frame to create a sense of urgency for completion.

7. Monitoring progress on goals

Managers need to be aware of their employees’ progress on goals in order to step in with coaching assistance or resources when it appears that goal targets may be missed or, even better, to acknowledge successes with appropriate monetary or non-monetary rewards. In addition to the need for managers to review the employees’ productivity, it’s also important for the employees to track their own progress on goals. Having this information handy is helpful during the all-important appraisal process to inform management of the steps involved in reaching a goal or to highlight successes from earlier in the year.

The secret to high performance: review individual and team goals at least once a week or month to clarify your focus and use this information as a basis for performance discussions. You can use the opportunity to review the progress and adjust timelines, request additional resources if necessary, or even broaden the goal once more information is gathered from other sources.

8. Appraisal process

In order to get the most out of their employees, the appraisal process should include listening, observing, giving constructive feedback, and providing recognition. Most performance management solutions include writing assistants and coaching tools to help managers find just the "right words" to give constructive analysis of the employee’s performance.

The most important part of the appraisal is to provide feedback about what the employee has successfully learned and still needs to learn and create a plan to provide the opportunity for the employee to develop those necessary skills. This can be an important factor not only in the employee’s growth, but also in the health of the entire organization since employees have a greater sense of loyalty to companies that develop talent from within and thus become more engaged in their work. These development plans also allows the company to create a pool of talent for strategic succession planning.

9. Maintain a positive working environment

Employees and management perform better when the workplace is a positive environment. Negativity is something that can grow like a cancer in any business if allowed to fester. Learn how to give constructive criticism without demoralizing your staff. Make sure that issues that are hurting morale are quickly resolved and encourage positive players within the ranks. A positive, productive workplace will be better for all involved in a variety of ways.

10. Listen

Far too often managers simply bark orders or talk to their employees only when something goes wrong. I also think when an employee comes to their manager, the manager quickly goes to problem solving mode instead of just taking a moment to listen. Sometimes the employee does not want or need you to solve the problem, they simply want you to listen.

Successful managers are effective communicators in 3 areas. They are effective speakers and can put their points forward clearly. They are also effective at getting their message across in writhing whether it is an e-mail or report. Finally, they are effective listeners.

Being a successful manager requires a good combination of knowledge, skill, and finesse. In the struggle to make sure everything runs smoothly and profitably, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pressures one has to face. Taking care of business is the manager’s raison d’être, so keep these things in mind as you start each work day.