Stay Effective! A Quick Refresher for Managers

Refresher for Managers

Organizations are fluid and dynamic. They are social structures with individuals at their very core. Knowing an organizational dynamic is impossible without getting to know what type of behavioral traits, personality characteristics, and individual differences are involved. Managers are just one of the layers within the organizational structure. Organizations and industries are in continuous change cycles. Technological, economic, competitive, and government forces are just some of the forces that create trigger events that cause leaders to create developmental or transitional changes. In his book "Seeing the Big Picture," Kevin Cope says there are five key business drivers: cash, profit, growth, asset utilization, and people. He explains that cash is king but that people are one of the most important assets in business. Therefore, having a good understanding of people and how managers lead and manage them is key. “Management consists of all of the techniques that are used to lead human resources in an organization to be productive” (Reilly, Minnick and Baack, 2011, p.21). Consider the following questions when reviewing your own manager’s management style.

Three Characteristics of an Effective Manager

1. First, managers should have a good understanding of emotional intelligence (EQ). This characteristic means they need good self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management.

2. Next, they need to know certain skills in order to be effective.

3. Finally, they need to understand the roles managers play. These characteristics create a managers (getting desired results and building positive and productive relationships). To be successful, managers need to be flexible and adaptable as they apply these characteristics to make their organizations productive.

Three Skills of Management

Over time, the basic thinking behind being a successful manager are these three things:

1. Technical knowledge and skills – they need to understand the specific knowledge associated with their position and how to effectively perform in the role.

2. Interpersonal skills – they need to have good interpersonal skills and be able to effectively work with people. Good human relations skills are a must and essential for success. We have all heard the term “people skills.” This skill allows them to effectively lead and motivate others.

3. Conceptual skills – they need to be able to read and diagnose situations and to analyze them. Can they see the “bigger picture” macro view and the micro view and be able to solve problems? Being able to be critical thinkers and to see cause and effect is important to a manager’s effectiveness.

A fourth skill of management may be leadership. Being a leader is not a prerequisite to being an efficient manager, but being promoted and accomplishing organizational goals is not possible without proper leadership skills. Improving and inspiring people to follow are important in the leadership role. Altering between being a manager and being a leader is not always easy. As much as someone might strive to inspire and provoke passion in their direct reports, sometimes the simple managerial stance of “getting things done” is all that is needed.

With regard to technical skills, a typical managerial day might be described as moving from one thing to another and back again to the point when your head is spinning. However, John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, spent five years studying successful mangers and determined that 75% of their time was spent in dealing with others vs. 25% doing independent tasks (O’Rourke IV, 2010, p.3).

The results given above lead right into interpersonal skills. A manager may need to focus on dealing with employee “drama,” at times called crisis handling, conflict resolution, or other more politically correct terms.

Finally, conceptual skills are needed to determine long-term goals. Planning may be one of the most crucial tasks with which managers are entrusted. To properly plan, managers must understand:

• goals and objectives

• proper workflow distribution

• deadlines

• clearly defining and communicating job tasks.

Not every manager goes through the above-mentioned steps but the vast majority of those who are successful work though a similar process.

Ten Managerial Roles

Henry Mintzberg (1989) in his landmark book, The Nature of Managerial Work, states there are ten primary roles of managers, and they fall into three distinct categories.

Interpersonal

Figurehead

Leader

Liaison

Informational

Monitor

Disseminator

Spokesperson

Decisional

Entrepreneur

Disturbance handler

Resources allocator

Negotiator

Learn more about each of these management roles.

Management philosopher Peter Drucker stated in the mid-20th century, “Managers have to learn to know language, to understand what words are and what they mean. Perhaps most important, they have to acquire respect for language as (our) most precious gift and heritage” (O’Rourke IV, 2010, p. 1). From that statement, you could say that in order to successfully perform any of the above listed roles, managers have to be superb communicators.

Managers are an important component in an organization’s success and in the success of their employees. Having a good understanding of the skills, characteristics, and techniques for effective management is a key for organizational success.

Written by Dr. Maja Zelihic and Bill Davis, MA, CM

Dr. Zelihic is an Assistant Professor and Bill Davis is an Instructor in the Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University.

References

Cope, K. (2012). Seeing the Bigger Picture - Business Acumen to Build Your Company,Credibility, Career and Company. Austin, Texas. Greenleaf Book Group.

Mintzberg, H.(1989). Mintzberg on Management. New York, NY, Free Press. Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Mind Tools (n.d.). Mintzberg’s Management Roles. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/management-roles.htm

Mind Tools (n.d.) Emotional Intelligence, Developing Strong “People Skills” O’Rourke IV, J. S. (2010). Management Communication. Prentice Hall: New Jersey

Reilly, M., Minnick, C., & Baack, D. (2011). The five functions of effective management (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Weiss, J. W. (2011). An introduction to leadership. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

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