As you go up the corporate ladder, your workload increases at an accelerated pace, whether you are able to work efficiently or not able to make big differences in your performance. From my observations of many managers, there are some things they have in common. Today in this blog, I’ll share 5 tips. I recommend these for the purpose of your management skill development, as well as for use when mentoring your staff.
1. Reply to emails promptly.
This might be something many people point out. Most great managers are quick to respond. If a manager holds you back without replying to emails, that will influence the team overall. Managers should never be the bottleneck of information flow in an organization. It is a basic that managers throw the ball back, enabling the team to communicate smoothly. Nowadays as our office communication gets based more and more on SNS such as Facebook or LINE, the required response time gets shorter and shorter. One of my business partners sometimes asks me, “What’s going on about that?” if I don’t reply to his email for only 5 or 6 hours. I sometimes feel a lot of pressure from this, but our mutual project goes very smoothly and productively.
2． Don’t attend a meeting by yourself
A good manager always attends a meeting with his/her staff. If you attend a meeting by yourself, the after meeting tasks fall to you, or you need to find spare time to transfer the information to staff members. If you involve someone on your team, you can quickly ask him to do the tasks regarding what you’ve discussed in the meeting. This also gives you another benefit of sharing your vision as a manger, which leads to the development of your staff. Some Japanese managers in overseas offices tend to have meetings only with Japanese, but we should involve non-Japanese staff as well at the early stage of a project, so that we reduce much communication cost and gain more trust from them. However, we need to keep an eye on the number of people who attend the meeting, so there are not go too many. If more than 5 people attend, the communication gains are less efficient. The ideal number is below five.
3．Say “No” Clearly
Those managers who tend to answer, “I’ll do what I can” when a new ball is thrown at them even though he/she is already at full capacity, and likely to burst at the seams. We should distinguish the work we can do from what we cannot, and sometimes say “No” clearly. If you have a good relationship, I recommend turning down the offer immediately after you get it without putting it on a shelf. And when it’s a busy time, you should say that bluntly. When I see a manager who says that “I’m totally swamped this month, but next month is OK”, I rather trust him/her for knowing well his/her work capacity.
4．Be consistent with your preferences.
Simply said, the criteria of Yes or No should be based on whether you like something or not. If you are at the staff level, it’s necessary to do what you don’t want to do without complaint to improve your ability, but managers are not on that stage any more. What managers should do is to focus on the area where they can maximize their performance and get the biggest results, by using others who are good at fields where they are not. Great managers are selfish in many cases. And they should be attentive to the preferences of others. If your staff member is late in submitting the task you gave him/her, that implies he/she doesn’t like it or isn’t good at it. You should identify that as early as possible and support him/her, or you should give him/her a different task.
5. Don’t think in front of your PC.
One of the biggest challenges of managers is how to secure time for thinking. Managers’ time goes by with various activities such as sales, delivery, internal communication, staff management, trouble shooting, and so on. Time passes as quick as a flash and many managers gets to express are in the habit of saying “Oh, I have no time to think”. However, the action of thinking doesn’t require much time. If you can stay at the office for a whole day, the time you are actually thinking might be 1 or 2 hours, I suppose. If you want to think about one certain topic, you need only 15 to 30 minutes. If you can’t come up with output with within that time, there might be a somewhat of a problem. So you should close your PC and concentrate for 15 minutes. If you open the PC, you feel yourself compelled to do different tasks. We should think of the PC not as a tool for thinking, but for outputting your ideas. Many people like to think with paper and a pen, which is very rational because your hand and brain are connected with your nerves. I personally recommend for you to think while walking. I always take an hour walk per day, for contemplating with the planning of a proposal or seminar material. This walking time is the most productive for me.
These five factors are what I really recommend for business managers. How about starting from tomorrow for enhancing your management productivity?