window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-3448884-1');

Improving Management Skills

Getting the right things done!

Improving Management Skills

Getting the right things done!

One undervalued way of improving management skills is to step back and make sure that the right things are getting done.

There can be a tendency to equate activity with productivity and busyness with effectiveness rather than getting the right things done. This can often be the difference between being a sharp manager and someone who’s edge has become blunt.

This is an article in our series on optimum performance. In it we’ve considered a range of management problems, including: working at peak performance; using our strengths; creating more discretionary time; finding energy sources and using that energy to be creative. All of these aspects of performance are brought together in this final area. They all need to be put to use to deliver the outcomes you want to achieve.

You can be working at your peak, using your strengths, but not necessarily delivering the goals you value; your effectiveness is made blunt by not being clear about what you want to achieve.

People perform at their best by using their strengths and being able to choose what and how they do things. When this happens they start to harness their energy to be creative. Crucially though, they need to do this with a focus on delivering a bigger purpose. When strengths flow, choice liberates energy and passion releases creativity, then all that is needed is direction – so that the right things are achieved.

Improving Management Skills – The Things We Choose to Do

Improving management skills is not just about improving what and how we do things. It’s also about improving the things we choose to do. As Peter Drucker famously said:

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

Sharpness suggests clarity in what you are doing. If this is so, then the first step is to review your goals and objectives. Are they clear? Do they reflect what you want to achieve? Are they motivational? We are more likely to be motivated by some goals than by others,and some goals are more likely to make us happier than others. So we suggest asking two questions of the goals you intend to set:

Improving management skillsFirstly, are they goals that are likely to motivate you to want to achieve them? To do this they should be at least challenging (they stretch you) and specific (you are clear about what you have got to do). We discuss more on the kind of goals that are more likely to motivate us in our article: Goal Setting Definition: making goals purposeful.

Secondly, are they goals that are likely to improve your well-being? For this to be so, they should be goals that are intrinsic. That is, more geared towards personal growth, connection (with others and the broader community), contribution (worthwhile goals), and that you find interesting. We explore the kind of goals which are likely to make us happier in our article: Why is Goal Setting Important?

Improving Management Skills – Prioritise Your Priorities!

How many priorities do you have? If you say you have 10 priorities, can you really say that you have any priorities at all? Out of the 10, which 3 are really important?

Do you need to review your priorities and select the ones which reinforce each other? Which priority helps and supports the achievement of another? There is always a danger of losing focus and sharpness because we are trying to do too much.

Think about improving management skills by doing less and achieving more! Think about these questions from our article: What is Time Management:

  • How can you do things better but in less time?
  • Are there any small things you could change to make a big difference to your life or work?
  • Shift your thinking by asking yourself: “if a particular outcome were to be achieved in half the time and produce better results what would we change to do this?”
  • Focus on the 20% of your time that gives you 80 per cent of your results.
  • Identify the things you do that contribute least to the important parts of your work or life.
  • Stop doing them! (See Busyness is Killing Business)
Improving Management Skills – Two Ways to Focus Your Activity

Find out what actions, tasks and activities really help you achieve your goals. There is much of what we do in the routine of our jobs that has little to do with the goals and objectives we are trying to achieve. To remain sharp we need to focus on the small number of actions which really do contribute. Two ways of doing this are:

  • Ask the question: will this activity get me closer to my goal?
  • Apply the 80/20 principle. A small number of actions will deliver most of what you want to achieve. Find the 20% that deliver the 80% of your goals. The principle suggests that only a few things matter, find out the activities which really deliver for you and your organisation.

There can be few more valuable ways of improving management skills than learning how to get the right things done. When we’re clear about the activities that really contribute to the organisation’s performance, then effective motivation at work really does help us deliver optimum performance.

Moving to optimum performance

This is the sixth and final article in our series on improving work motivation. The first: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start. Management is essentially a balancing act and the first article introduces a model which may help you to achieve optimum performance.

Our Optimum Performance model is based on six common management problem areas:

  1. Ease of work
  2. View of workload
  3. Amount of discretionary time
  4. Energy to tackle work
  5. Ability to be creative
  6. Getting the right things done

Take a look at the Optimum Performance Graph, below. Think about these questions to see how you can improve your performance and workplace well-being:

  • Where would you position yourself on each line, 1-7?
  • Which is most important to you?
  • Where would you like to improve your score?
  • What actions do you need to take to move yourself along the line?
  • What can you do to adopt a more positive attitude at work?.
  • What do you need to do to work more with your strengths on a regular basis?
  • What do you need to do to address any issues you’ve identified?


Work motivation using the optimum performance graph

The Optimum Performance Graph

For more on the Optimum Performance Series just follow the links in Further Reading.

More resources to help your work motivation

If you’re looking for more resources on motivation at work, we’ve bundled together these six PDF e-guides to help you put motivation at the heart of performance. At half the normal price! Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. These guides are great value, packed with practical advice, tips and tools on how to motivate yourself (and others) to perform. (6 pdf guides, 176 pages, 26 tools, 15 tips and 22 insights for half price!)

Motivating Performance
Manage Your Own Performance
15 Performance Management Tips
SMART Goals, SHARP Goals
Workstyle, Lifestyle
Leading Insights

Your site is wonderful

I do leadership training and your resources have been helpful. Thank you for your well done site.

Pat - United States

What a terrific resource site!

I am currently producing learning materials to support the Institute of Leadership and Management’s VRQ at Level 4 and would like to incorporate some of your stuff into the workbooks.

Tony - UK

...something worth reading about stress...

Thank you, I trawled the net until I found something worth reading about stress and your site ticked all the right boxes for me. Well done.

Linda - UK

I really appreciate your service

I visited your page after searching for the keywords “time management work inefficiency” on Google.

The tips … for clarification of work practices and the steps for combating ‘busyness‘ are very useful.

I really appreciate your service.

Sharma - India

Looking for more motivation resources?

Try our great value e-guides

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More

Got It