The Good Manager
CONTRARY to popular belief, being a manager is not easy. There are so many things to do, so many people to see, so many hats to wear and so little time to do it all in. Half the battle is against time. The other half is against grumpy employees who resent being squeezed to the last drop in the hours that span from about nine in the morning to about five in the evening. Considering the fact that the odds are stacked heavily against managers, it is somewhat of a miracle that successful managers do exist.
The universal cry that rings out, or at any rate should ring out, in boardrooms and cubicles is: what is their secret? Successful managers are successful because they have certain traits, either inherent or cultivated, that help them do what they do best - manage.
1. Plan, plan and then plan some more: Good planners make for good managers. Needless to say planning is an important aspect of managing, irrespective of whether you are managing projects or you are managing people.
2. Vision: Managers, like airline pilots, must have great vision, metaphorically speaking of course. One of the traits of a successful manager is the ability to foresee contingencies and be prepared for them.
3. Team players: This is one of the hats a manager must wear. A manager is a leader but he is also a team player. Good bosses usually pass the acid test of good managing because they are able to work in a team. Managers must have good people skills. Working with people is not as easy as it may appear. The average office is peopled with employees of different cultures, perceptions and mindsets. To be able to turn this melting pot into a working cohesive unit is what managing all about.
4. Communication skills: Much has been said about the importance of good communication skills and most of it is true. Without effective communication skills, managers can scarcely call themselves managers. They must be able to communicate effectively with their subordinates, peers and superiors and bridge the gap that invariably exists between management and labour. A key component of communication is clarity. Although they need not be professional orators, managers must be able to express themselves well - clearly, precisely and, as the occasion may sometimes demand, tactfully.
5. Leadership skills: Needless to say, managers are leaders of men. They must be able to inspire their teams and show them what to do. Managers are also responsible for the morale of their units.
6. Friend and boss: This is a particularly hard path to tread. If managers so often appear to be suffering from a split personality disorder, it is because they must be shoulders for their employees to lean on in times of personal turmoil and taskmasters in times of professional turmoil. They are hard and often contradictory roles to play but a good manager must be able to do just that.
7. Being open: One characteristic that marks out a great manager from a good one is his ability to be receptive to ideas regardless of how outlandish they may seem. A good manager will convene a meeting and tell his team what they should do. A great manager will get his team to tell him what they will do. Listening is an essential part of being a boss.
Then there are those little things called time and resource management.
They call for some strategising coupled with an assiduous study of situation and environment.
That is about all there is to it. Managers can be successful managers if they want to be. Will, as is often the case, is stronger than mere skill. And that, as any accomplished manager would tell you if you cornered him in the cafeteria, is the secret behind their success.
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