Five ways to improve your management skills

Managing people is a learnable skill.

That means you can get better at it by working diligently on improving your skills. And you’ll have the most success if you choose activities with the greatest payoffs.

Following are some activities with high return on investment for time and effort. Of course, not all of them will apply to every manager. You have to determine where you have the most need for improvement. Then work at it every day.


1. Think of your role as serving your employees

One of the most powerful actions a manager can take is to serve the needs of their employees.

Managers don’t produce – they facilitate their employees to produce. They therefore must be dedicated to solving employees’ work-related problems or obstacles, getting them needed resources, and assisting in their overall professional development. This will earn employees’ loyalty and maximize their productivity.

2. Improve your candidate selection skills

Managers are only as good as the people on their team. Don’t take any short cuts when it comes to assessing job candidates. The most important rule – in most cases – is to hire for ability and character, not necessarily skills or experience. You can teach relative novices how to do their job. It’s more difficult to overcome a lack of innate ability or a difficult personality.

3. Stop micro-managing employees

There are few things more demoralizing to competent employees than to have a manager always breathing down their necks, telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. It gives the message “You can’t do this yourself … I know better than you, every time.”

If you have nailed the preceding activity – improving your candidate selection skills – you have a good team of employees in place. Share with them your vision for where you want the team to go. Then get out of the way and let them perform. That is the mark of great leadership.

4. Deal with employee problems sooner rather than later

Few things undermine team morale faster than having an employee who isn’t performing or treats teammates inappropriately, and the boss won’t do anything about it. This is an Achilles heel for managers who are uncomfortable with conflict and confrontation.

But nobody said every aspect of a manager’s job would be pleasant. You have to confront problem employees, give them feedback, and follow your company’s performance management policy until the problem is resolved – one way or the other.

5. Give your employees more positive feedback

Some managers think employees should know they are doing a good job as long as they aren’t getting any criticism. Why waste time giving praise?

The reason is that it is highly motivating to have someone in authority notice that you are doing a good job.

Tell your employees what they do well and how much you value their contributions to the team. You’ll be surprised at the loyalty you get in return. People don’t want to let someone down after hearing that kind of praise from them.

There are many other manager-improvement activities that will help you improve your results, but these five are an excellent place to start.