For those at the starting point of their management career the focus should be on Soft Skills. Things like Team Work, Leadership, Dealing with Change, Time Management are all crucial skills that are useful for the young Manager and also show a demonstrable return for the company.
As a manager, it is a key requirement to ensure that your team is appropriately trained on the minutiae of the job. How to find customer information, how to respond to customers, dealing with Irate customers and troubleshooting issues are obviously all things that you would ensure that your team receives. However, how important is it to you to ensure that YOU are receiving the appropriate training and improving your skills?
It almost goes without saying that the only constant in our world today is that “change is inevitable”. If you understand this fact then dealing with the constant pace of it is something that is fairly easy to take in stride.
From year to year, and inside each subject itself, what is taught at school and the way it is taught itself changes. This is natural – new things are being researched all the time and what was considered FACT one day is quite often flipped on its head the next. With the constant growth and change that we experience every day of our lives dealing with the pace is an issue in and of itself as more often than not, the greatest discovery of the day is just a piece in the puzzle to something much larger.
Now while you could afford to just “coast” along in school as you were being rated and graded against others being taught exactly the same material, in the “real world” this mentatility just doesn’t work. Your competitors in business and in your own workplace are constantly advancing their skills in an effort to be more efficient and provide an even better product or service at a lower price all the time – after all we live in a capitalist society and thats the hallmark of it isn’t it? The customers determine the leader and if you want to be part of that crowd you cannot afford to neglect your personal developement.
While its clear that this is a message that has been learned at the Senior Level, most employees don’t realize this and think that Senior Management just decide which way to steer the ship and then step back and let it go on its way. If you really look at it though, the readjustments and refining of technique are something that Senior Managers do all the time and they base this new direction on what they are learning from other companies and even their competition!
The transition from an average Manager to a top tier Manager is gradual, but knowing the latest trends and information definitely play a factor in this. This is obviously NOT just a matter of being able to spout the latest and greatest “buzz word” that is currently in vogue. The only way to truly advance is to actually understand what you are talking about and to believe in its value and potential. Being ISO certified is easy – understanding that ISO is NOT just paper-pushing which is the common misconception is something else altogether.
With this knowledge in place (and keep in mind, retraining is key as if you don’t use it … you lose it!) the focus should be shifted towards industry and technology specific disciplines. You should aim for courses that not only provide you with an improvement but that can demonstrate an obvious return on investment to your company.
Things like Process Improvement and Cost Minimization are both emphasized in ITIL and Six Sigma certifications. Ensure that you are keeping abreast of the latest trends in your industry – read trade publications and technical journals, network with your peers in similar positions … SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! … find out what they are interested in and what they would like to see your company provide to them.
While Managers today have less time then in days past – if training if structured correctly it can be useful and relevant and should be able to show an immediate impact to the organization. It is key to remember to that training cannot be a single event and should be considered a constant – just like change – as that is the only way to stay in the race and eventually – WIN IT!!