How to become a successful manager

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

What does it take to become a good manager?

If you’re considering a top-up degree or MBA at university, the likelihood is that you’re preparing to progress to a management role. While your hard work and dedication may have got you to this stage, it will take more than simply being great at your existing job to make you a good manager.

Ian, an IT consultant from London who manages a team of 15, says: “Often, you’re promoted to a management position because you excel in your role. However, once you become a manager, you have to think not only about doing your own role, but also about managing the progress and performance of others. This can come as a shock because most of the time your previous experience will have done very little to prepare you for this.”

Develop your organisational skills

One of the things most new managers struggle with is organisation. While it’s possible to achieve success in your role without having honed your time management and organisations skills, if you lack these skills it becomes immediately apparent once you have a team to manage and you become responsible for managing team members’ deadlines as well as your own. Managers also need to ensure they devote sufficient time to checking in with and mentoring team members as well as working on their own tasks – and achieving this requires the ability to manage and make the most of your time. The best time to learn this is now. Start by looking at how you spend your working day and finding ways to optimise your time. Cut back on wasted time and think about how you can perform tasks more diligently.

Learn to delegate

All too frequently, rising stars achieve management positions by taking on vast quantities of work single-handedly – and they carry this approach into their roles as managers. However, one of the hallmarks of a good manager is their ability to successfully delegate tasks to team members. Doing this well requires the ability to recognise who has the right skills or potential to excel at a particular task before assigning it to them. This is something you can practise right now on any projects you are involved with. Think about which team members are best suited to which tasks, and don’t be afraid to let others shine.

Improve your communication

The best managers are good at communication – and this is one skill you will need to have under your belt if you want to be successful at managing a team. Good communication is not just about transmitting your own thoughts and ideas. As a manager you will need to be able to communicate information from the business to your team, and that may involve adapting your style to ensure you are communicating appropriately with each team member. Good communication also means being able to cope with confrontation and deal with it in an effective and mature manner.

Learn to be a good listener

Many think of management roles as being similar to a waterfall, with managers trickling information down to their team. In reality, communication is a two-way process, and effective managers need to learn how to listen to members of their team and respond appropriately to what they say. Practise this now when dealing with your colleagues – making an effort to listen as well as to speak will help strengthen your relationships and improve your management potential.

Seek an academic qualification

One of the best steps you can take towards becoming a successful manager is to pursue a relevant academic qualification. There is a range of management-focused top-up degrees available, many of them taught at prestigious universities such as the University of Lincoln, which is at the cutting-edge of management practice. As well as helping you develop the relevant problem-solving and theoretical skills required to progress to management level, our courses are tailored to specific career types – such as engineering management or retail management – and use work-based projects to help you gain an understanding of how successful managers operate within the workplace.

There is no single secret to being a successful manager – it takes a combination of skills and competencies to get there. Many managers struggle to develop these skills after learning that fact – but by planning ahead and developing them in advance, you will greatly increase your chances of success.

The University of Lincoln Work-Based Learning top-up degrees will help you achieve your career goals and obtain a qualification with a global focus. Find out more about the Lincoln WBDL programmes.

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