Whether you’re just starting out as a manager or you’ve enjoyed considerable success over the years in management positions across a wide swath of sectors, the ever-shifting work landscape and the generational shift of workers entering it mean that what worked effectively one year may not work as well the next.
And while many people would like to believe that good managers will figure out how to change when necessary, it’s still always a good idea to work on improving your management style and techniques. That way, regardless of what comes down the pipeline in the future, you’ll have the skill sets and flexibility you need to respond well. Here are six ways to improve your management style, whether you’re an old hat or a novice.
1. Curate Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is knowledge of one’s own feelings, motivations, strengths, and shortcomings, and managers who have it and curate it tend to respond better to unforeseen challenges and the daily grind. Self-knowledge is the first step in being able to improve your management style, because, without it, you won’t even really know how you manage, let alone how effective you are. To curate self-knowledge, practice some of the following:
- Ask for feedback from employees and higher-ups, and don’t get defensive when it’s given.
- Push your limits, and pay attention to how it feels and what it gets you.
- Spend some time in talk therapy.
- Journal about your expectations, feelings, results, etc.
2. Further Your Education
One of the best ways to improve your management style is to gain new insight by furthering your education, whether through certificate work or in a more extensive capacity, such as getting a master’s in management. Not only will education give you knowledge about what’s hot right now in the business and management worlds, but it will also place you in a new context with new people — both professors and fellow students — from whom you can learn everything from new techniques to transformative values.
3. Ask for Ideas
Chances are you have someone working under you who will be somebody’s boss one day — maybe even yours — which means a wealth of good ideas may be lying hidden just outside your office door. One easy way to improve your management style is to seek out new and better ideas about how to run things more efficiently and effectively from the team with whom you work on a daily basis. Not only will it keep the troops happy by asking for and utilizing their input, but you’ll be transformed by the experience of looking outside yourself for help.
4. Examine Your Values
What is important to you? Not just in the workplace, but in your life overall? It’s never too late or too soon for a manager to examine her values to see if the way she’s working and performing are in keeping with whom she wants to be and what she hopes to accomplish. As you examine your core values, align your management style more fully with them, and in the areas where you need improvement, improvement will come.
5. Change Up Communication
Even if you believe you are a good communicator, try changing up your methods and practice to see if you can accomplish better results. For instance, if you meet with your whole team once a week to discuss ongoing projects, try meeting one on one with each team member on a weekly basis for a month instead. Reduce the amount of email you send to your employees to just one a day in order to see if you can increase your own efficiency.
Incorporate a chat app like Yammer into your workplace, and see if “the loop” is easier for you and your employees to be in when you use it. However you do it, change up the ways in which you communicate, and pay close attention to what works, what doesn’t, and why.
6. Get a Mentor or Coach
One of the most effective ways to improve your management style is to ask someone whose work you admire — who ideally doesn’t work for the same company as you — to act as a mentor or coach. Because they aren’t in a position of power over or under you, mentors can provide guidance, honest feedback, helpful input, and more as you seek to become a better person and manager.
Improving your management style isn’t something you can do overnight, but with dedication and attention, it’s something you can certainly do — especially if you put these six tips into practice.