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Improving Management Skills

…by Getting the Right Things Done.

Would you characterise your actions as sharp or blunt?
“Improving Management Skills” is the sixth article in our series on improving motivation at work. The first article: 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 can help you to achieve optimum performance. The 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

Improving Management SkillsOne 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 sharp and being blunt.

In this series on optimum performance we have 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 these aspects of performance are brought together in this final area. They all need to be put to use to deliver 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Are they goals that are likely to make you happier? 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!

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.


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