Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Are You a Manager by Chance or by Choice?

Are you a manager by chance or by choice?

The reason I ask this is because most managers become managers only by a matter of their vertical growth (by chance) in the organization and not necessarily because they can manage people well or that’s what they’d like to do (by choice).

I believe that most people are not prepared for the transition from managing self to managing others. Being successful as an individual is no measure of success for being successful as a manager. And I have seen several failures where the past glories and successes of individual contributors could not be replicated once they had a team to look after. It seemed as if they lost their own edge and couldn’t do a good job at getting others to perform either!

So what is it about becoming a good manager that is so illusive? Well, hardly anything! We have articles and books galore about how to become a good manager. They talk of leadership, managerial skills, trust and team-building skills, time-management skills and plenty more!

In my view, here are top 10 qualities of a good manager:

1) It is about people. People make companies not the other way around. Let no one tell you otherwise. So, effective managers focus on developing their people. Good managers know the skills and talents of their team and assign work accordingly.

2) It is about management. Good managers can’t do well if they don’t understand the business! Strong project management skills lead to an effective manager. If you have a great team but bad business – you can’t be a good manager.

3) It is about mutual respect. Good managers never flaunt their position or power to gain respect. They give respect and get it in return. Effective managers earn respect by their confidence, honesty, and skills at work.

4) It is about work ethics. Good managers have values and ethics and they live by them irrespective of the type of situation. They have high expectations from themselves and people who work with them. They are a living example to their team.

5) It is about being responsible and accountable. Good managers never shy away from taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions – no matter how good or bad. They are ready to face the consequences, accept mistakes, and learn from their actions. Their teams are able to follow the same.

6) It is about letting go. Good managers never micro-manage. They assign tasks, ensure the team has the right resources, and then let go. They delegate and they trust. And their team thrives.

7) It is about communication. Good managers know that communication is a two-way street. They are available to their team, listen openly, share information readily (not hoard it), and enable their teams to feel free to discuss any issue. They share feedback on time and expect to receive feedback from their teams too!

8) It is about thinking out-of-the-box. Good managers never shy away from processes but also don’t let processes and rules stop them from innovating. Good managers enable their teams to think creatively and are willing to take the risk.

9) It is about developing yourself. Sounds cliché – but good managers can’t develop people if they don’t focus on developing their own skills. Effective managers don’t end their learning at becoming the ‘boss’. Infact they just about start it there.

10) It is about still being friendly. Good managers don’t stop being friends just because they are the boss now. Instead, they are able to maintain a professional relationship at work without destroying their personal relationships. They are direct and never ‘use’ their friendships to get ahead.

Good managers are not born. They are made. And they are made by years of experience including both success and failures. Just remember to practice being a good manager, prepare yourself for the role, and don’t be like the boss you always disliked!