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Developing management skills

The 8 Ps of effective management

Developing management skills

The 8 Ps of effective management

Developing management skills is perhaps one of the most critical activities facing any organization. Yet it can also be one of the most complicated, given the diversity of the average manager’s work.

How do you go about developing the broad range of skills managers need to be effective? Try thinking about the 8 P’s of effective management. In this mini-series on developing management skills we consider the topic from three crucial management perspectives:

Focusing – the ability to direct attention and effort onto what matters. This is the subject of this article – developing management skills.

Doing – the ability to get things done. This is the topic of our article effective management skills: Making it Happen.

Knowing – the ability to build your explicit and tacit knowledge, to inform how and why you manage. This topic is explored in our article leadership and professional development: be in the know.

One essential management capability is the ability to focus, to concentrate your attention and energy. But with so much to do and think about, how and where should managers focus their attention?

A good place to start is with what’s generally taught on most management and leadership courses. Look at typical business management education courses, or at the syllabus for most MBA programs.

You’ll find a curriculum that typically includes: leadership and change; finance; strategy; human resource management; operations; and marketing. Most MBA programs also include other optional elements, such as electives which allow further choice or specialisms, to augment the generic management topics.

Developing management skills via formal courses is one thing, but how do you focus on such a range of topics on your own? In this article we introduce 8 P’s to help you do just that. The 8 P’s framework is designed to add a structure to effective management skills, and to aid managers in focusing on which skills to develop.

What are the 8 P’s? We think good managers are those who can focus on managing: purpose; people; places; processes; projects; performance; profit and personal development.

Developing Management Skills – the 8 P’s of Effective Management
Purpose:
  • We are all better motivated when we feel we’re engaged in something of real significance.
  • Look beyond the mundane and functional to see the bigger picture, then help others to do the same.
  • Foster a sense of value and purpose amongst your team.
  • Set a direction with a clear sense of purpose and value in what you intend to achieve as a team/organization.
  • Build plans to deliver your purpose and explain them.
People:
  • The customer comes second, it’s people who come first.
  • Help the people you manage to flourish is a fundamental focus for any manager.
  • Finding the right people is critical.
  • Match an individual’s strengths with the right role.
  • Coach to develop your team’s capabilities.
  • Develop talent, help people realize their potential.
  • Build a better team.
  • Delegate.
  • Handle conflict promptly and fairly.
  • Build relationships with your team, your manager, peers, the wider organization and customers.
Place:
  • People spend a larger part of their waking lives at work.
  • Make your workplace a great place to work. Create the conditions for a happy and productive workplace.
  • Give people more choice and control over how they do their work.
  • Remember technology is changing the nature of the workplace, so adapt to new conditions.
  • Don’t forget remote workers, just because they are remote!
  • Design interesting and challenging jobs, in appropriate environments.
  • Encourage dynamism and enthusiasm by being an example.
  • Build trust and value team member contributions.
Processes:
  • Ensure your processes deliver value for your customers/clients.
  • Deliver value simply and efficiently.
  • Learn how to solve problems and make decisions effectively.
  • Strive to enhance quality continually.
  • Review processes from your customers perspective.
  • Develop and sustain good customer relationships.
  • Understand and review order generation (sales and marketing).
  • Do the same for order fulfilment (the complete process from purchase to after sales service).
Projects:
  • Initiate projects to improve ways of working and introduce new practices.
  • Manage change and improvement.
  • Learn the basics of project management, as a minimum.
  • Apply continuous improvement approaches.
Performance:
  • Management is about getting the right things done, and doing them well – it’s all about performance!
  • Motivate others to perform.
  • Manage performance.
  • Set goals.
  • Monitor and control.
  • Review progress.
  • Provide timely feedback.
Profit:
  • Get the other areas right and profit (or surplus) will follow.
  • Balance costs with income.
  • Achieve performance within budget.
  • Monitor trends to indicate if changes are having an impact.
  • Improve financial performance.
  • Remember profit can be measured in more than financial terms.
Personal Development:
  • The most important investment you can make is in your own personal development.
  • Developing management skills on a regular, planned basis – it’s not just a course or annual top-up!
  • Plan your own personal development.
  • Keep up to date.
  • Use a variety of development methods – personal, professional, formal, informal.
  • Develop your strengths.

Developing management skills helps you to sharpen your focus on the critical areas and skills which combine to make you a better manager.

Developing management skills – where do you start?

Of course, nobody can be good at everything, and such a list of effective management skills can seem daunting. So how do you manage such a range of skills and topics?

Developing Management Skills

The first step is being aware of the range of skills summarized in our 8 P’s. Next try to develop a base level of skill and knowledge in each area. This is where formal courses are useful. Think about the best format for your needs, whether traditional or online MBA programs, or other management and leadership courses. If these are not right for you, discuss your needs with your own manager and stress the benefits the organization will gain from investing in your development.

Then, think about focusing on particular skills. It may be that some are more important to you than others. Typically they will be things you’re good at or that come easily to you. Provided these are valuable and worthwhile in relation to your own or your team/organisational goals, there is much to be said for on building on these existing strengths. If you feel you don’t have the time to further develop these strengths, perhaps you can delegate more. Making better use of your team will help you develop your own skills, whether strengths or those which need attention. Properly handled, delegation can also be a management win-win, helping with staff skill development too.

So where do you start developing management skills?

  1. Build a solid foundation – know the basics, reflect on the 8 Ps and practice your craft.
  2. Focus on your strengths – nobody can be good at everything. Think about what you are particularly good at that can contribute significantly to how you manage.

The next article in this mini series on management skills explores what managers do: Effective Management Skills to Make Things Happen.

How can you play to your strengths for most of the time? You can find out more watching this video by Marcus Buckingham on strengths based management.

Personal development stories and more!

Personal Development e-guide bundle

For more continuous improvement resources look at our great-value guides. These include some excellent tools to help your personal development plan. The best-value approach is to buy our Personal Development bundle, available from the store.

We’ve bundled together these five e-guides at half the normal price! Read the guides in this order, and use the tools in each, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your personal development plan. (5 guides, 125 pages, 26 tools, for half price!)

Manage Your Own Performance (28 pages, 6 tools)
Managers Make the Difference (27 pages, 5 tools)
Managing from Strength to Strength (22 pages, 5 tools)
Making Change Personal (22 pages, 5 tools)
Re-defining Middle Management (26 pages, 5 tools)

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