7 Ways to Advance Your Management Skills

In management, it is often easy to fall into a pattern. You may perform quite analogous tasks every day, and may likewise instruct your employees in the completion of similar to identical daily tasks. Though your actions may be comparable day-to-day, your behavior should not be.

Here are seven ways to improve and advance your management style in order to achieve company success, maintain positive professional relationships, and reach managerial fulfillment.

1. Actively Listen

One of the most important things that you can do as a manager is to honestly and actively listen to your employees. Focus completely on the person talking to you, and keep your body language open and receptive. Make sure that you’re not just thinking about your next comment and waiting to say it; instead, respond sparsely but genuinely, with comments and questions that show that you truly understand and value what your employee has to say. The interaction should not be a conversation—the only comments from you should be questions or comments for clarification.

Not sure how to actively listen? Try turning on talk radio and let yourself become totally engaged in the topic being discussed. If you can, jot down questions that arise as you listen. Honest, active listening is key to a trusting, professional relationship.

2. Give Feedback

Remember, feedback can be either positive or constructive. Make sure that you’re both praising and developing your direct reports. Feedback needs to be given in a timely manner, focused on a specific topic, and given often. Promptly after an event worthy of either positive or constructive feedback occurs, deliver said feedback in a neutral tone, being sure to outline specifically what the employee did, and why it was significant. Employees can only develop from regular feedback, and will appreciate the opportunity you are giving them to improve their work style.

3. Be Open to Feedback

On the flip side of the coin, be open to feedback yourself. Encourage your direct reports, as well as your peers, to deliver feedback to you as often as possible. Remember, any constructive criticism is professional, not personal, and is intended only to help you. Lead by example: gracefully receiving feedback yourself will build a sense of trust in your workplace, and will encourage everyone to develop.

4. Don’t Skimp on Training

In order for anyone to be successful, they must be provided with adequate training. Give your employees the opportunity to thrive by providing them with training early and often. Make consistent training a goal in your work place by empowering veteran employees to train new-hires—this will benefit both parties, as even the most seasoned workers can often benefit from short recaps of basic duties. Remember, in the long run, you will end up paying for training that you failed to do in the short run.

5. Empower Others

One of the most crucial roles of a manager is the delegator. Make sure that you’re not personally biting off more than you can chew. Remember, as a manager, your job is not to do everything yourself, but to make sure that everything gets done. Empowering your employees to respond to issues as they arise, and teaching them to help you achieve the company’s goals is key to achieving success.

6. Don’t Forget to Focus on the People

Keeping the goals of the company in sight can often overwhelm the mind of a manager. You want to ensure in your tumultuous day-to-day activities and goal-oriented ideas that you don’t lose focus on the people who are making everything possible. Take time to genuinely interact with your employees and respond to their needs and concerns; learn about their personal interests and their professional aspirations. A strong, trusting relationship with those who are key to achieving your goals is essential for your success.

7. Develop Yourself

While toiling to achieve the goals set before you by your company, and also playing a key role in the development of your direct reports, don’t forget that your own training and education is still important. Never pass up an opportunity to gain more experience in an area that you are unaccustomed to. Your professional development is key not only to your own advancement, but also to the way in which you act and function as a manager.