If a manager is ever told that he could only have one soft skill and one soft skill only, he needs to be absolutely clear that it be that of self-management (Read List of key skills for Managers and Employees). Why? ‘Coz if you were given three wishes, wouldn’t you use one of them to get three more and so on and so on? A clever loop hole!
Self Management is one such wish that keeps on giving, in your managerial career. It encompasses pretty much every other soft skill. If you have the power of self, you can easily cultivate on the rest of the necessary skills. But without it, you might as well not get out of bed!
Self management teaches you to be productive, no matter what the circumstances are. That’s the ideal situation. Practically speaking, it gives managers, and even employees, the discipline to progress in their career. For a manager, especially, it provides the back up for leadership.
So here is a list of self management skills that can give every manager the confidence to lead his team ahead.
Does your blood pressure shoot up each time there is a potential difficulty in your way? Have you not had a good night’s sleep since the first Dhoom was released? Are the dark circles, under your eyes, darker than your greying hair?
Stress has a way of showing up in not just your physical off color appearance, but also in the way you function. Studies have shown that stress can hamper balanced logical thinking, much needed for decision making (Read How stress can affect you). A manager’s job description entails ironing over difficult situations on a regular basis. If you are a manager and have to weigh the pros and cons for decisive plans, or have to make sound judgement about difficult situations, you can be assured that being stressed will leave you less than capable of making a good one.
Instead of stressing out at the drop of a hat, you need to develop the skill of managing your stress. Read Stress Management using a simple Scientific formula. To summarize, just take a chill pill!
Time doesn’t wait for anyone and we bet this is not the first time you have realized it. A Manager has a lot going on at work. So if you don’t plan your job, with time as a significant constraining factor, then you would probably never succeed. Time management becomes quite inherent if you are able to train yourself to become efficient. Let’s quickly summarize, the main ways you can save time, to save time.
Time management takes care of creating a framework for a well structured working routine. It never lets you down. (Read Time Management Skills for Managers)
This is just a spill over from the previous skill. Clean the piles of paperwork from your desk and the icon traffic from your desktop. Organize your life. Buy post-its, a label maker and go crazy backing up your computer. Neatly labeled hard and soft folders will bring a sense of order in your life. And since monkey do as monkey see is actually a thing, you may find that your employees may get into a similar habit too. That way clutter will be out, a system will be in and when someone higher up wants to exhume an old project, and its contents, you will just have to do an alphabetical search!
What would any employee expect of you, as a manager? It is the art of getting to the root of a problem. It is your ability to use facts and unbiased assumptions that will let you analyze a difficult situation and reach a fair solution. These problems could be of technical nature, in which case you can rely on well known methods of problem solving. Or they could be of interpersonal kinds, especially related to employees. Say you, or someone else in your team, has a difference of opinion or a conflict. It’s a problem that you will need to resolve by taking it on objectively. What is the problem? What is causing it? What ways can one resolve it? Which one is the best way and what actions must one take to get to a solution?
In other words, you need to be fearless at the face of any difficult situation.
Requires you to be firm and have faith in your decisions. It also requires you to be fair, devoid of emotional attachments and conflicts of any interests. What you need are the facts and sound reasoning, with a dash of your gut feeling. You may even try getting your team to weigh in, with their opinions, but beware of too many cooks making a mess of the decision stew.
The ones that can make your head go spinning and your stomach go knotting are the decisions which can have light to heavy risks down the line. Well, you just have to do your risk management and have confidence when you bring down the gavel.
With everything else above, this shouldn’t be surprising to you. A confident manager invokes trust from his employees. As long as you like, respect and are confident about your abilities, you will naturally take on a positive role for your team. Positivity is infectious. A happy team will tend to work better together, in turn getting more and more assured in their capabilities. And when it is time for a feedback, it will in turn feed into the glow.
And finally it is self protection and self preservation. You need to take care of yourself. Exercise well, eat well and definitely sleep well so that you can actually practice the rest of the skills listed above. Avoid crankiness and negativity like the plague and keep a healthy lifestyle to keep your body and mind sharp as a whistle. Relax and have fun ‘coz, you know, you work to live and not the other way around!
Development of self management skills are often ignored and pushed behind the more important deadline driven tasks that befall any manager’s operations. But it ultimately boils down to you and your willingness to keep yourself from burning out. And as a manager with a team, plus one, to take care of, you need to be even more aware of your ability to keep it together. So keep these simple skills in practice and you may just find a sustainable secret for working till retirement kicks in.
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