6 Management Skills That Will Supercharge Your Productivity
A post from our Management Skills Development blog
Written by Jordan James
Managing a team can be one of the most rewarding things in the world… provided you love responsibility and multitasking. Because team management can also be incredibly stressful.
You know how it goes. When starting a new role or project, you and your team are full of ambition, bravado, and camaraderie. Everything is ahead of you – and with your skilful team pulling together as one, you're sure to nail your targets. You feel ready to lead.
But soon, reality bites. Plans don't work out. Key staff members go off sick. Delays happen for all kinds of reasons, from upper management decisions to snow days. Mistakes are made.
Things are always hectic. Even when things are going well, you need to set the agenda, help your team through day-to-day issues, make sure targets are being met, and report to your superiors. In other words, there's a hell of a lot to do – and you're responsible for all of it!
That's why, as a manager, it's vital that you make yourself as productive as possible. When you're on top of things, your staff are more likely to be on top of things. That's when your job becomes really rewarding.
In this post, we're sharing 6 management skills that can take the stress out of your role by supercharging your productivity. But first, a little preparation.
Be ready to adjust your management mind-set
Before you can learn the 6 productivity-boosting skills in this post, we need to make sure your mind-set is primed for effective management.
Not having the right mind-set doesn't mean you don't have what it takes to be a great manager. Often, it simply means that the stress of managing has dampened your enthusiasm for new ways of doing things. Or perhaps you recently made the jump from a technical role to a management position, and you haven't quite adjusted yet.
If it's the latter, the first thing you need to do is accept that you can't do everything yourself anymore. You have bigger responsibilities now, and that means trusting your staff to do most of the heavy lifting.
This can be difficult if you were promoted because you were amazing at your last job. You might review your subordinates' work and be tempted to re-do it yourself. At least you know it'll be done right then, eh?
But that's a terrible plan for the long-term, and it's not what you're being paid for. Now, your job is to help your team perform the best it can. And you can only do this by adjusting your mind-set, as follows:
See the big picture: Things might not be going well today, but you're here to win the war – not just this one battle. So don't panic when staff underperform. Think about how you can use measurement and review to help them improve over time. And when staff are performing well, don't just sit back. Start preparing for the next round of work now, so you can keep up the momentum.
Maintain balance: Broadly speaking, there are two polarised ways you can influence staff performance – by encouraging them, and by disciplining them. Both are useful at the right moment, but it's essential you keep the balance right. Too much discipline can break morale, but too much back-patting can make some employees complacent.
Let go of the small things: As a manager, you're responsible for the overall performance of the team – not the little details. When your responsibilities start to overwhelm you, be prepared to simply take a breath, and re-focus on the things that matter. Everything else can be delegated or dealt with later.
OK, do you feel ready to learn some new skills that will supercharge your productivity? Let's go.
1) Set the right priorities
Let's start by tackling one of the hardest things about being a manager: the multitasking. If you want to be more productive, you need to get your daily tasks under control.
The answer is to learn how to prioritise, and it's not that hard. Simply:
Ask yourself what your most important or urgent upcoming tasks are. These are your top priorities. Now you know what to focus on in the short term.
For your other tasks, list them and rank them in order of importance. If you can, put a deadline on each task. Now you have a schedule for the longer term.
Be prepared to update your priorities at any time – if you're not open to rapid change, you can't stay on top of your team's workload.
Now you're ready to get your priorities under control.
2) Manage your time smartly
Even with a well-prioritised plan, time is of the essence. If you want to be more productive, you need to manage your time smartly. Get the maximum out of each day with these proven methods:
Start your day early
Complete your important tasks now – never put them off until later
Recharge with regular breaks, but keep them short enough to avoid wasting time
Use IT tools to plan the day's tasks and track your progress
3) Always have a clear end goal
How can you be productive if you don't know what your end product is? You can't – that's why you always need to define clear end goals for yourself and your team.
Everybody needs to know exactly what they're working towards. And when they do, they'll be much more productive in getting there. Set clear goals now and hold a meeting to get the word out!
4) Take advantage of productivity tools
There's a bit of a revolution going on in offices all over the world. A new wave of productivity apps is changing the way companies work.
Many of these tools – which include apps like ‘Slack', ‘Basecamp' and Facebook's ‘Workplace' – are designed to reduce reliance on email, which is a known productivity killer. They can help you plan and assign tasks, communicate with your whole team, and work from mobile apps. Lots of the biggest enterprises are already using them, so don't get left behind in the productivity race.
5) Manage time and effort like precious resources
They say familiarity breeds contempt. And when you've been in the same management role for a while, it's easy to see each day as just another 8 hours of no particular importance. You might start to think, "There's no need to pull up trees today, as long as we make a little progress."
If you want to boost your productivity, it's time to reject this attitude and start thinking of time and effort as precious resources that you need to make the most of.
Think of it like this. Every single day, you and your staff have a limited amount of time to do something great with. If you waste it, it's gone forever. If you make the most of it, you'll be rewarded with fantastic achievements.
So manage your resources well. Realise how precious they are, and your productivity will go through the roof.
6) Learn to say ‘no'
Finally, remember that you can't do everything. Most of this article has been about learning to do more with your day. But often, you'll be asked to do something that (a) takes you away from more important tasks and (b) isn't worth your time.
You need to learn to recognise these time-wasting distractions. But more importantly, you need to find the courage to say no to them! As a manager, you might often feel obliged to meet all your superior's requests and support your staff wherever possible. But remember the priorities you set with skill #1 in this article – and say no (when possible) to anything that damages your productivity.
So, there you have it – with a new mind-set and new skills, you're ready to storm back into the office tomorrow like a whirlwind of productivity. Go get ‘em.
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