For more than two decades (more precisely, 25), I’ve worked to support those who lead people – managers, whether they’re at the top (directors, heads of departments, etc.) or at the bottom (line workers) (team leaders , supervisors, etc.).
Engineers, economists, and other specialists are hired in companies after 3-4-5 years of college and are taught almost everything they have to do in a few months-a-year, while those who are appointed to positions where Lead people are often left to learn from their own experience (read “failures” and “successes,” more often failures because they think about them), despite their impact on business being much greater.
What skills should a manager have? I considered making a list to assist those who promote in developing their own learning strategy.
If management entails achieving results through others, a manager must concentrate on two types of learning goals:
- What is expected of him in terms of outcomes? It is the first question a newly appointed manager should ask his or her boss. What is the job’s purpose, and what are the indicators by which his performance is measured at the end of the week/month, or at the end of the year, if he is a middle or top manager? It may seem strange to ask such questions, but I’ve come across many situations where people have no idea. Of course, I expect the appointee to be able to answer secondary questions, especially if he has been promoted: what resources are available, what processes he is involved in, and what is more important for the job holder.
- What methods do people use to lead? Unfortunately, the answer is much more complicated, and the person who asked the question rarely has the time or patience to respond. This is the primary focus of management and leadership training. But I’ll try to sum up the elements in a few words:
- What kind of behavior, temperament, or personality does he have in the people he will lead? I understand that answering this question is difficult, but I can classify them in a way that is familiar to them (or search the internet) to identify them. They should know what motivates them, how they prefer to be communicated with, what their greatest fear is, and what their most important characteristics are.
- What are the responsibilities of those under his command? … The ability to organize is the main characteristic that distinguishes successful managers from those who simply work too hard. Organization means that each person understands the job’s purpose (why he or she is employed by the organization, and what contribution he or she makes to the overall results) and the main lines of responsibility: how to achieve the job’s purpose, and what to do. He should understand the relationships between jobs and their main challenges in addition to the jobs themselves.
- What is the level of subordinate competence? Are these the same as the ones required for the job? To begin, make a list of what they should know and how people in their subordinate positions should act, and compare it to existing lists. The difference is in the training requirements; developing training plans is another important managerial skill. We begin with the assumption that everyone wants to grow if given the opportunity.
- I’m not sure what I can do to help my subordinates (long before I ask them to work for the manager). What can they do to meet their needs: perhaps they need to be heard, better equipment, challenges, training, and so on (and I’m not talking about higher pay).
The list may appear short, and it is, but it is sufficient for new managers to be able to “light” their way through the complexity of managerial work for the time being; later, I can refine the teaching.