Less is more: Five ways to be a great manager in 2015

29 January 2015 -


The trick to developing yourself and your teams is to have a clear focus on doing the important things better

Ben Walker

One of the best pieces of leadership advice I ever had was that you should never assume that people know why they are doing something.

Ask them the purpose of tasks you suspect are a waste of time – and if they can’t tell you, stop them doing them.

But while lots of good people-managers are expert in relieving their teams of burdensome but pointless projects, they are often much less adept at managing their own lives.

To make the most of yourself and your team in 2015, try focusing on five core areas – and stop wasting time on other, less important ones. Concentrate on these five areas and the benefits to your and your business should follow naturally.

1. Learn more

Avoid complacency! The best bosses keep learning and innovating; finding new ways of getting the most out of themselves, their employees and their business, and pushing for additional management qualifications or becoming a Chartered Manager. CMI’s Future Forecast report shows that personal development is high on managers’ list of resolutions for 2015.

Management demands lifelong learning, so set out to learn new things from your team, colleagues or clients every day. And consider upping your skills with one of the many management courses out there.

2. Engage your team to engage their team

CMI’s Management 2020 report showed that one of the three keys to company success is developing the potential of the next generation. Managers need to understand the strengths of each employee and help them reach their full potential. Fail to do this and your company will fail with you: the report found that a lack of employee engagement is damaging productivity and many workers are thrown into leadership roles with little experience or management training to qualify them for the job.

But things could be changing. Recent research from the IPA reveals that upskilling middle and line managers is the number one challenge for UK firms. A programme of regular in-house training and discussion with new managers alongside more formal programmes like an introduction to management can work wonders.

3. Identify “the why”

You need to make sure everyone in your team understands not just what they are doing, but why they are doing it. The Management 2020 report revealed that fewer than half of companies had a good or very good record on creating a clear sense of purpose for their workers. As a boss, it is down to you to lead by example: Management 2020 found that a sense of purpose is the starting point for successful managers.

4. Put people in the right place

Great people become average when they are in the wrong role. Use the cold light of the New Year to really interrogate whether or not your best people could be deployed better. If staffers excel at one type of work, try to find ways in which they can do more of it. And let good people concentrate on projects that bring the best benefits to the business by relieving them of more trivial duties.

5. Make time pay

Top bosses manage their time efficiently and delegate tasks wisely. When you have meetings, make an agenda and stick to it. Good managers learn to manage their own time so they get proper time out. Make sure you have some downtime each week too, so you have time to reflect. In fact, CMI’s New Year’s Resolutions research found carving out a work/life balance is among the top five priorities for managers in 2015.

Looking for more management inspiration and insights? Don’t forget to keep up to date with the latest management articles from CMI.

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