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A good Manager (3)

Becoming a good manager takes time and patience. It's great when we get some initial training, but that doesn't always happen. To start, check your current status as a manager - how effective are you now? There are many self checklists available on the web.

You should also consider having a 360 degree review completed. Once again, there are many good ones on the market.
Once you have an accurate picture of your strengths and weaknesses, start by focusing on your strengths - what are you really good at? What do others say that you do well? Consciously focus on maintaining these. Put a note in your personal diary to ensue that you review one of your areas of strength at least once a week. As Peter Drucker once said "Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often people know what they are not good at - and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all."
Now for your weaknesses - how do you manage these? Many of these are things that you will not easily change. Often managers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to change things about themselves that they are unlikely to be able to change. But, there are some short cuts. My advice is to look at how you might best manage (not necessarily change) your weaknesses. For example, in my own case, I am not good at following up on detail type things. Therefore when I am working with a team, I find someone else who can do these for me. If I am working by myself, I make sure that I have a good diary system that keeps reminding me to do these things.
Additionally, for each of your weaknesses, ensure you have a good reference or support (process, person, network) that you can access when you need it. As a suggestion, list out each of your weaknesses and against each list a:
* tool, technique or process that you will use regularly and / or consult when the going gets tough
* person to whom you can turn for advice from time to time or when faced with a difficult situation
* book reference that will help get you through your challenging moments.
From my experience, many of the problems managers encounter with managing their weaknesses have to do with the people issues. For example, being too assertive (or not assertive enough), managing conflict, giving (or not giving) appropriate feedback, and so on. One of the best references I would recommend for the is "People Skills; How to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflict" by Robert Bolton. Every manager, no matter what style or level of proficiency they have, should have this reference book on their desk for when they are faced with that difficult people issue.
Two more things you should consider to help in your progress toward becoming a good manager. Firstly, have a good personal management plan. This should include not only your job priorities, but also your planned personal development actions and your team leadership activities.
And that brings me to the final point - team leadership. Sometimes you will have the opportunity to select all or certain members of your team. As well as their ability to do the job, new team members should be selected for:
* their ability to fit into the team and
* for the diversity they can add to the team.
You can do this informally (perhaps with the help of your team) or by using a profile such as the Team Management Profile (see Team Management Systems or the Belbin Team Roles Profile ( Even where you don't have the option of selecting your team, it's a good idea to conduct a team exercise using a profile such as the Team Management Profile to assess the team's preferences and in particular, any gaps that may cause the team to perform at a less than optimal level.
And one final piece of advice - plan to undertake some form of formal training / development at least every 18 months. This will not only help you learn and develop your management skills, but often also provides a much needed dose of self motivation or energy surge.

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