How long has it been since you spent time on your own growth as a manager? When is the last time you took an online class, attended a webinar, went to a conference, or picked up a coaching book? If it’s been a while, you probably feel stale. Your skill set is getting old school, going out of style. It’s time to catch up.
But where to start? There are so many management gurus, courses, and easy-to-buy classes that it’s tough to know which ones have worthwhile content that benefit you and your company. Shake off the sales pitches and dazzling websites and think simply. Go towards the basics that made you a good manager over the years.
Basic #1: Networking
For creative people to be creative, they need input. They consume ideas and visuals from varied sources. In the same way, curiosity and consumption of new ideas are an asset to you as a manager. So put your curiosity to work.
Networking events – think conferences or local Chamber mixers – are a terrific way to meet other managers who might run their teams differently than you. Through these events, you meet people who have suffered similar pain points and may have found inventive solutions. Ask lots of questions, but also be as generous with your time and thoughts as others are with you. Reciprocation is important in making long term connections that help everyone learn and grow.
Basic #2: Salesmanship
Maybe your team, or even most of your company, doesn’t depend on selling to be successful. No matter. To be a good manager, a degree of salesmanship is necessary.
Talking about sales techniques can make people feel uneasy and squirmy. But there’s no reason to assume that effective persuasion tactics are sleezy. Basic knowledge of human psychology and marketing techniques build on your current communication skills. When it’s time to pitch a new project to upper management, you’ll be able to clearly point out the benefits of the project in a way that shows them you’re a problem solver, and that your team is there to back you up.
Basic #3: Coaching
The idea of managers as coaches isn’t new. It’s a philosophy that has been proven effective time and again. But do you always use it? Have you fallen back on old habits when crunch time hits? Did you default to Command-and-Control when those seemingly far away deadlines abruptly appeared on your doorstep?
It’s likely we’ve all made that mistake more than once. Because it doesn’t matter how well practiced or educated you are in management techniques. Everyone needs refreshers. It’s essential to not only remember previous training, but to also take advantage of local coaching seminars. Sit in and listen to presenters who remind you how to learn, how to use your business sense and critical thinking skills. And most of all, how to listen to your employees and understand their viewpoints.
Training and development isn’t only for your own team. As a manager, it’s important for you to stay sharp, and to learn new methods and theories. Find cost effective training that brings you back to basics. Specifically, training that offers networking opportunities, while teaching salesmanship and coaching.
If you’ve been so busy running your team and taking care of them that you neglected your own development, take time to prioritize yourself for a bit. Your team and organization will be better off for it.
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