Advertising
Advertising

10 Must-Have Life Skills For Great Managers

10 Must-Have Life Skills For Great Managers

Horrible bosses are everywhere on TV and in the movies. If they’re not tyrants who insult, harass, or hurl packages at their staff, they’re cold-hearted cynics who steal ideas and take the credit. Or, they’re bumbling louts forced to buy themselves a “World’s Best Boss” mug.

Sure, these portrayals are farfetched (well, most of them), but they also sprout from grains of truth. We’ve all known managers who drove us to quit our jobs or wish that we could.

But here’s what’s interesting: It’s rarely the experience, education, or technical skills of these bosses we gripe about. We’re far more concerned with their “life skills”.

Take the self-reflection quiz at the end of each section to rate yourself on these 10 must-have life skills for managers. For improvement ideas, download the full workbook.

1. Empower Other People To Lead

Among the most common job complaints is this: I don’t get enough opportunities for development. Ambitious employees embrace the chance to be challenged and become energized at the prospect of demonstrating their versatility and potential. Offering leadership opportunities is a surefire way to develop and keep your best employees. A great manager is always teaching and empowering employees with opportunities to make decisions and develop new skills.

Are you an empowering manager? Take the quiz.

Advertising

Empower Other People to Lead

    2. Demonstrate Humility

    Nothing breeds an “us vs. them” mentality faster than a manager who makes employees feel beneath them. When you display humility as a manager, you signal to your team that it’s OK to show weakness and that failure is simply a bump on the path to success. Your employees will in turn feel emboldened to take risks and be resilient in the face of setbacks. A great manager knows that it’s possible to demonstrate confidence and maintain a leadership position without arrogance, ego, entitlement, or pride. They’re able to admit weakness, show a willingness to learn, take responsibility for failure, and credit others for success.

    Are you a humble manager? Take the quiz.

    Demonstrate Humility

      3. Write With Clarity

      Whether you’re leading a small team, large department, or your own company, clear written communication is a must-have skill. Ironically, communication is often dismissed as a “soft skill,” yet employees regularly point to unclear communication as a trait they dislike about upper management. Great managers invest time and thought when crafting written communication to their teams. They write concisely and clearly, keeping their employees’ perspectives in mind, and take care to avoid jargon, complicated words, and long sentences.

      Do you write with clarity? Take the quiz.

      Write With Clarity

        4. Use Positive Body Language

        Our body language communicates much more than the words we speak. As a manager you can inadvertently quash creativity and morale with subtle facial expressions and shifts in body position that convey annoyance or resistance. Negative body language also can make you less likeable. And if your employees don’t like you, they won’t listen to you, trust you, or feel motivated to exceed your expectations. Great managers keep their body language and spoken words in sync and balance a confident physical presence with gestures, smiling, and eye contact to convey empathy and warmth.

        Advertising

        How positive is your body language? Take the quiz.

        Use Positive Body Language

          5. Be Generous With Praise

          Have you ever worked for a “no news is good news” boss? You know, the type who only calls you into her office if she has bad news or criticism to offer? Don’t be that kind of manager! If your employees don’t feel appreciated, they’ll stop caring about their job. Wouldn’t you rather have employees who love showing you their work, sharing creative ideas, and including you in problem-solving discussions? Being generous with authentic praise is a core trait of a great manager. They recognize effort and achievement privately and publicly, and lay the groundwork for praise by setting both achievable and stretch goals.

          Are you generous with praise? Take the quiz.

          Be Generous With Praise

            6. Be Thoughtful With Criticism

            No one enjoys receiving criticism, but when delivered effectively, critical feedback is essential for developing skills and overcoming weaknesses. Unfortunately, most managers aren’t great at giving feedback; either they’re too harsh and direct or too soft and unclear. The good news: giving effective feedback is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Great managers always keep their emotions in check and their facts straight when delivering criticism, and keep the recipient’s growth and development at heart.

            Do you give criticism thoughtfully? Take the quiz.

            Advertising

            Be Thoughtful With Criticism

              7. Respect Other People’s Time

              If you’re managing a team, a department, or an entire company, you’re busy — everyone gets it. But being chronically late to meetings, appointments, and events isn’t a symptom of being busy or important; it’s a sign of disrespect for others and a lack of discipline for yourself. When you no-show, cancel at the last minute, or arrive late, you disrupt the productivity of your team and send the message: I am more important than you, and my time is more valuable.  Great managers communicate integrity and earn respect and trust by being punctual, attentive, and ending meetings on time.

              Are you respectful of other people’s time? Take the quiz.

              Respect Other People's Time

                8. Like and Be Liked

                Research shows we like people who like us — who ask us questions and pay us compliments, who possess similar interests, backgrounds, and attitudes. As a manager, you can use this fact to your advantage: By being more likable, in an authentic way, you can increase employee loyalty and engagement. Most important, your employees will open up to you in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, compared to employees who feel neutral about your personality, those who adore you might be more willing to trust you with their creative ideas, share their concerns, or pull a longer shift when you most need their help.

                Are you a likable manager? Take the quiz.

                Advertising

                Like and Be Liked

                  9. Show Up To Be Nowhere Else

                  You know the feeling: You’re talking to someone with great enthusiasm, but you’re not getting their full attention. You can hear a keyboard clacking or papers rustling, or you notice them stealing glances at their phone. You feel deflated. Why bother talking to someone whose mind is elsewhere? And if that person is your manager — whose respect you covet — it can feel even worse. Great managers “show up to be nowhere else”; they use active listening skills, stay engaged in the conversation, and are attentive to details.

                  Are you a present, engaged manager? Take the quiz.

                  Show Up To Be Nowhere Else

                    10. Communicate High Expectations

                    We’re all affected by what our mentors, teachers, and managers expect of us. When they convey higher expectations of us than we have for ourselves, we tend to believe we can succeed — and therefore often do. As a manager, you can put this concept to good use. Communicate high expectations to your employees via verbal and nonverbal cues and you’ll boost their self-esteem and performance, setting the stage for a more engaged, productive workforce. It’s easy to do with employees who already exceed expectations; the greater challenge is conveying high expectations to everyone else. Great managers encourage all their employees, not just those who consistently outperform.

                    Do you communicate high expectations? Take the quiz.

                    Communicate High Expectations

                      10 Must-Have Life Skills for Great Managers

                        More by this author

                        Sharen Ross

                        Marketing Strategy Consultant

                        36 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching 8 Ways to Overcome Impulsive Spending Tracking your spending can improve your life in dramatic ways. 5 Surprising Benefits of Tracking Your Spending How To Master The Multigenerational Workforce 9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations 9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations

                        Trending in Career Advice

                        1 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 2 9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career 3 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 4 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

                        Read Next

                        Advertising
                        Advertising
                        Advertising

                        Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                        How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

                        How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

                        We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

                        So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

                        While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

                        Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

                        What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

                        How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

                        But what does being productive actually entail?

                        Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

                        Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

                        It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

                        Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

                        9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

                        1. Avoid Multitasking

                        Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

                        Advertising

                        Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

                        If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

                        2. Turn off Notifications

                        According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

                        Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

                        The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

                        Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

                        3. Manage Interruptions

                        There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

                        Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

                        If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

                        By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

                        4. Eat the Frog

                        Mark Twain once famously said that:

                        Advertising

                        “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

                        What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

                        We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

                        Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

                        5. Cut Down on Meetings

                        Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

                        You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

                        The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

                        But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

                        If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

                        6. Utilize Tools

                        Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

                        If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

                        Advertising

                        And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

                        Some examples of tools that could be used:

                        Communication
                        • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
                        • Samepage for video conference software.
                        • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
                        Task Management
                        • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
                        • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
                        • Wekan for an open source option.
                        Database Management
                        Time Tracking
                        • Clockify for a free tracker.
                        • TMetric for workspace integrations.
                        • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

                        You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

                        7. Declutter and Organize

                        Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

                        Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

                        Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

                        Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

                        8. Take Breaks

                        Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

                        As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

                        Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

                        Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                        Advertising

                        9. Drink Water

                        Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

                        Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

                        Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

                        A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

                        If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

                        You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

                        The Bottom Line

                        The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

                        After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

                        In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

                        A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

                        Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

                        More About Boosting Productivity

                        Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        Read Next