When you enter the corporate world you normally have a good idea of how you want your career to progress. You look ahead and see numerous promotions on the horizon, great job opportunities and an exciting world environment.
Unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out that way and even if you do end up being promoted to manager you may realize that you fall short in a number of key areas. How then do you overcome your weaknesses and become a better manager?
Our aim, by the end of this article is to who you how to identify your weaknesses and create a strategy to overcome them. You can’t be perfect in every area of life and business, but if you understand where your weaknesses are you can use that to your advantage and be a better manager to the people around you.
How to Identify Your Weaknesses
Correctly identifying your weaknesses is the first step towards becoming a better manager. Not many people want to admit it but we all have shortcomings. If you recognise this then you are already ahead of the game.
To undercover your weaknesses you can use the following process:
Take some time to sit down and list all of the times you have felt you fell short as a manager. Ensure that you are honest with yourself and list everything you can think off.
Review the list and see where the common themes are. Perhaps you notice you are quick to shut down others and that has caused issues in the past. This may suggest that you need to improve on your listening skills.
Reach out to your colleagues and seek feedback on how you perform as a Manager. This can be hard for some people to do. Especially, if you are asking someone you manage to be critical of your performance.
It’s important that you are clear in your intentions for seeking this feedback and also make sure that the other people participating are comfortable with the process as well. If your organisation isn’t as progressive and you feel that junior staff may not feel comfortable participating then you can always stick to managers who are at your level (or higher) within the organisation.
Review Quantitative Metrics
If you work in a role such as sales or marketing there are often qualitative metrics that you can review to get a gauge on your level of performance. For example, how many leads you developed in a given month, the sales result you achieved, etc.
Looking at this figures helps provide some additional context to the verbal feedback you receive. If you have been very successful in your role (from a metrics driven point of view) you have to ask, is your success plastering over some of your management shortcomings?
Piece It All Together
After you have completed this process you need to go through the evidence you collected and find the commonalities. This should give you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses as a Manager.
If you want to them take it a step further you can sit down with some of your colleagues and confirm back to them what you believe your weaknesses are. If you see them nodding in agreement then you know you have got it right.
Overcome Your Weaknesses And Become A Better Manager
Now that you have identified your weaknesses you need to put in place a plan to improve. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, nor is it something you just do once and forget about it. So how should you approach this process?
Develop a Plan
Now that you have your list of weaknesses you should prioritize what areas you want to work on first and list them down. You then need to assess the best way of improving yourself in each of these areas.
For example say your listening skills are poor then perhaps you need to make a more concerted effort to listen to people you are speaking with. One way of forcing yourself to do this is to bring a notepad and pen to every meeting. Make sure you list all of the persons questions or concerns.
Not only will this force you to listen but you will also have a list of action items to work on after the meeting.
In addition to this, you may find that some skills warrant additional education or training. For example, maybe your financial literacy skills are not as sharp as they should be. This could be overcome by enrolling in an online course or attending a short course of finance for managers.
With the plan of attack for each weakness detailed you now need to take action. For the items that you are going to work on personally you should create a schedule where you review how you have progressed over time. Perhaps every fortnight you can reflect on how well you have been listening to people around you.
Hopefully the people you manage notice the change and compliment you on your improved managerial ability. If they don’t however it may be worth seeking their feedback again in a months time.
Supporting Your Growth
With a plan of action in place you need to build the support structure needed to ensure your success as a manager. There are a number of things that can assist with this area of your growth and development, including:
Ensure You Have The Right Team
There is only so much you can do as an individual. You need to ensure you have a strong team around you to assist with the execution of your ideas and performance as a manager.
You need to ask yourself, do I have the right team around me? And do they have the appropriate skills and experience to help me achieve my goals? If the answer is no then perhaps you need to bring in additional skills to your team or train your existing staff to acquire those skills.
Adopt the Most Effective Management Style
There are a number of management styles that you can use and often there is no right or wrong answer. What works in one industry or team might not be ideal for another.
You need to identify the management style that suits your personality and will work within your industry or corporate environment. The style you adopt should be the one that gets the most out of your team and helps you achieve your goals, not the one that appears to be trendy or popular at this particular point in time.
To build a high performing team and to have people around you that will support your growth and development as a Manager you need to foster a sense of accountability.
This is where people feel a sense of ownership or responsibility over what they work on each day and often provides quantifiable metrics against which you can judge their performance, or lack there of.
With the plan you developed to overcome your own weaknesses you should already have an accountability plan in place to judge how you improve as a manager.
Improve Collaboration Within The Team
Building on the notion that one person can’t do everything alone, a good manager will recognise that they need to ensure their team can trust and work well with one another.
This may not be a weakness in your management style per-say, but can become an issue if you have adopted a team that doesn’t get on well or have staff placed in your team that you didn’t have a direct role in hiring.
Even if you weren’t involved in this process it is your job as a Manager to get the team on the same page and working well together.
Once you have been through this process you should now have a comprehensive strategy to overcome any weaknesses you have as a manager. Remember however that this is an ongoing process. You should always be looking for weaknesses and working out how you can improve your skills, experience and knowledge.