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Archive: Jan 2018

What skills do you need as a first-line manager?

Posted: January 23, 2018 3:38 pm
Promotion to a first-line manager position can be a career-changing moment. However, it may also leave you feeling like you’re balanced on the edge of a cliff. Most first-line managers step into this new position with no prior experience and often lack appreciation of the skills, strategies and experience that will make the role a success. For those about to make this crucial step up there are some key skills to get to grips with.

Communicating in a business context

Communication is perhaps the most crucial of all management skills. At lower levels it is not quite so key but once you start in a management position you need it constantly. From being able to manage meetings, through to creating clear proposals and communicating new strategies and concepts, this skill is one that will enable you to motivate those below you and forge links with those above.

Leading strategically

As a first-line manager there is simply no opportunity to hide at the back and follow. Within a specific area of the business you will now need to step into leadership, informed by an understanding of strategy. This is often the first time that strategic thinking has become a requirement and the ability to grasp it could be fundamental to whether or not progress up the career ladder is swift. Examples of strategic thinking in a leadership capacity could be anything, from innovating to revitalise old, tired processes and systems, to being able to manage and motivate teams in an uncertain business environment.

Self awareness

It’s almost impossible to manage other people if you’re unable to manage yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your personal values and how do you ensure that you consistently stick to them no matter what you’re doing? Today, every type of leader is expected to lead by example and so solid self awareness has become a key skill. For most of us, self-awareness needs to be learned and isn’t something we are naturally born with – but that also means that it’s something anyone can cultivate.

Broadening perspectives

In a more junior role there may have been a much more simple outlook with no responsibility involved in changing it. For managers, perspectives need to be significantly broadened – do you understand, and can you apply, the context of the sector that you work in to what you do? How does the latest innovation in your industry affect your role and the future of the business? Crucially, an understanding of the uncertainty of the business world and a willingness to embrace this and delve into the complexities is a key skill to develop.

Committing to ongoing learning and development

The only way to develop skills not currently present is to learn them. You may acquire some on the job but often for a role like first-line manager it can be useful to undertake some professional training. The First Line Manager Skills course from PTP will enable you to become more focused on the objectives of the organisation, develop clear and analytical thinking and become more proactive in a leadership role. Contact PTP to find out more.

Tips for beginning a new management or supervisor role

Posted: January 17, 2018 3:37 pm
Moving up in a career means tackling the challenges that managing or supervising other people can bring. This doesn’t just require the development of a new skill set but also an ideological shift too. If you’re about to enter the world of management for the first time then there are a few tips that might make the transition easier.

You don’t need to have all the answers

Even supervisors can ask questions and look for information to ensure they get it right. It’s far better to ask for input or request feedback than to plough on regardless and be unaware of any crashing errors you’re repeatedly making.

Learn how to delegate

It’s a rookie manager mistake to make yourself responsible for absolutely everything. Good delegation means taking responsibility for ensuring a job is done – but that doesn’t mean you have to do the job yourself.

Avoid trying to be a friend to everyone

Every employee who is moving upwards will eventually find themselves in a supervisory role with former colleagues. It’s important to be friendly and accessible but those lines of management need to be drawn. Otherwise leadership and discipline will be almost impossible to implement when required.

Get to grips with the concept of “fairness”

The people working under you will expect to be treated fairly – in fact, it’s the perception of unfairness that often causes the most problems for managers. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to treat everyone the same. Sometimes the route to fair treatment means treating people differently (as long as you’re not falling into discrimination territory).

Find a way to balance new responsibilities

With a move upward into management comes additional pressure. If you want to be a good supervisor then you need to learn to deal with this extra pressure in a way that doesn’t entail taking it out on the people around you. It’s important to find a way to have downtime when you can detach and relax from your responsibilities. Having someone to talk to who understands your position can also be incredibly useful.

Sometimes the answer is no

As juniors we’re often encouraged to say yes to every request and opportunity. As you become more senior the ability to say no – to superiors or juniors – starts to be an essential quality to avoid overwork, resentment and too much pressure.

Become a change specialist

At the heart of every successful business is the ability to swiftly adapt to change. Nothing stays the same and it’s the way that we cope with this that often defines the kind of managers we are and the value we can offer to the business. If your skill set is underpinned by an awareness of how to handle – and optimise – change then you’ll be a great manager to follow and a valuable asset to the business overall. The PTP Introduction to Management and Supervisory Skills course provides a valuable overview of how to take that key step up in your career. If you’re looking to enable that mindset switch this type of training is essential.

What role does body language play in business?

Posted: January 12, 2018 2:53 pm
Whether you’re interacting with clients, or having a catch up with your team, your body language will say a lot about your thoughts and intentions. Many of us assume that the most powerful communication tool is the voice. However, repeated studies have shown that, in any kind of interaction, between 50% and 90% of the communication is actually non-verbal. So, while you might be saying all the right things, if your body language doesn’t support that you could be missing a valuable opportunity to communicate better.

Body language can help to establish credibility

Eye contact, for example, is one way that we often judge whether someone is honest and credible. Being able to hold eye contact is taken to indicate genuineness and trustworthiness whereas constantly looking away will create doubts in the mind of the other person about your intentions. The most effective eye contact is gentle – held, rather than staring – as this is viewed as a non-aggressive, genuine desire to connect.

Mirroring can put others at ease

We often mirror others’ postures or gestures when we like, or have connected with, them. And when someone does this to us it creates an instant sense of ease and openness. For example, sitting at the same level as someone you are about to have a difficult discussion with when you need their cooperation can create instant rapport.

First impressions count

The first time body language comes into play is when you’re face to face with someone at an initial meeting. Standing tall with shoulders back demonstrates confidence and ease whereas slumped posture could deliver the message that you’re uncomfortable or insecure. The handshake too is often a crucial piece of body language that can be used to make a great first impression. A firm handshake communicates sincerity but also the intention to step up and stand strong.

Filling a space

The way you position your body in a business meeting or interview could communicate a lot to the other people in the room. We are often encouraged to “take up space” but this should be cautiously done. If your body language indicates shrinking – for example, shoulders hunched, neck bent and arms tucked in – then you will certainly come across as lacking in confidence. However, resist the urge to get up and walk around or stretch out and take up room that could impede on others’ personal space. This rarely works as a negotiating tactic (it’s not the 1980s anymore) – it just conveys a lack of awareness and often-unwelcome aggressiveness.

A hostile approach?

Crossing arms or legs is often interpreted as a sign of hostility or defensiveness – or perhaps a lack of interest. This kind of body language can be a useful tool to indicate initial indifference – and later interest in – a topic if you change from crossed arms and legs to more open - but only if this is done consciously. If you just enjoy sitting with crossed legs but you don’t want to convey a negative message overall then you can balance the posture with openness in chest and arms. Excellent communicators know how to use non-verbal cues to their advantage in business. Our Body Language - The Hidden Secret of Communicating Successfully training course will enable you to learn how to improve the way you communicate without saying a word.

The importance of assertiveness in the work place

Posted: January 4, 2018 2:51 pm
No matter where you work – or what sector you are employed in – there are some fairly similar themes that tend to persist. For example, you’re highly likely to come across the boss who won’t take “no” for an answer or the team members who like to lead from the front (without listening to anyone behind). A work environment can be a difficult place to thrive with all these characters competing. If you’re not equipped to be assertive then you could find yourself getting frustrated, depressed and suffering a drop in self-esteem.

Are you an assertive personality?

In terms of behaviour types if you are an assertive type then you will often find it easier to thrive. Assertiveness is not about shouting the loudest but involves clear and honest communication that allows others to understand who you are and what you want. You’re able to stand up for yourself without straying into damaging behaviours that hurt other’s feelings. And you’re able to generate respect by the way you deal with situations and other people. If you’re not assertive you may find that you fit into one of the other personality types, such as: Passive-aggressive. You probably don’t vocalise your feelings but are more likely to try to express them through actions, such as being late for work or not delivering something on time. Passive. You’re more likely to let something go, not because it doesn’t bother you but because you just don’t want to deal with it. Aggressive. An aggressive type always shouts the loudest but tends not to be viewed as a constructive presence in the working environment. Aggressive personality types often come across as rude, hostile, bullying and lacking in the ability to work with anyone else. Of course, many workplaces are not set up to foster the best qualities, particularly those where a macho, overly competitive or individualistic culture has been established. However, learning to be more assertive can help you to cope with even the most difficult of working environments.

Why being more assertive could help you at work

• You’ll be more confident. This will be reflected in everything, from the way you shake hands to being able to ask for a promotion when you feel the time is right. • You’ll have more of a handle on your emotions. The only way to “process” emotions is to feel them – blocking or ignoring them can lead to an out of control explosion further down the line. If you’re more assertive then you’ll have the confidence to feel your emotions and the awareness to identify what you’re really feeling. This will make finding solutions to difficulties or conflicts much simpler and less loaded with volatility. • Boundary setting becomes easier. When you become more assertive you know where your boundaries lie and you’re much more able to calmly, quietly and effectively ensure that they are not crossed. • You’ll have the respect of your colleagues. Honesty and the ability to communicate, standing your ground but being fair and open – these are some of the qualities most respected by others. • In the process of becoming more assertive you’ll learn more about yourself and those around you. This helps to build awareness to make better judgments, such as which battles to pick and which to leave. Assertiveness training is something that we can help you with – to find out more about our Masterclass in Being More Assertive and Confident in the Workplace Half Day Course, and what it could do for you, please get in touch.