Over the past decade, there have been widespread changes in the political, social, economic and psychological forces affecting organisations and their people. These changes have significantly affected both the nature of management and the strengths and skills needed from an effective manager in the present and in future. Current research suggests that the following nine areas are likely to continue to become increasingly important in managerial behaviour in the 21st Century:
Ambiguity and Change Agent
Managers who are able to respond positively when confronted with the need to change; demonstrating adaptability and flexibility and responding quickly to changes in processes, systems and structures. Modern managers are people who implement and support new initiatives in the face of uncertainty.
- Making suggestions to change processes that are not working well
- Varying approach or style to match each situation
- Adapting priorities and workload to take on board changing circumstances
- Identifying and communicating the benefits of change and the rationale behind it to the team
- Involving the team in the planning and implementation of change
- Challenging individuals who express negative approaches to change
Managers who devote time and commitment to individual and team learning, identifying strengths and areas for development. Effective managers recognise the importance of feedback and are able to both provide constructive feedback and respond to feedback received.
- Expressing positive expectations of others
- Accepting and acting upon feedback
- Maintaining an up to date personal development plan
- Giving appropriate, constructive feedback to others when asked
- Setting clear, consistent expectations and goals
- Assisting individuals in identifying their development needs, encouraging individuals to take on new challenges and responsibility
- Delegating tasks, authority and responsibility appropriately
- Providing motivational praise and recognition for desired behaviours
Managers who make conceptual connections and challenge assumptions. Thinking managers are able to apply learning to both new and unrelated situations and understand the variables impacting ideas.
- Identifying simple connections in apparently unrelated information or situations
- Acting upon trends in information
- Separating the facts from conjecture in any situation
- Maintaining an overview of complex situations rather than focusing purely on detail
- Using both practical and theoretic models when formulating ideas and solutions
- Presenting ideas that stand up to informed challenge
Managers who are able to originate new or radical alternatives to traditional work processes. They question existing practices and support a culture of creativity and innovation.
- Making improvement in own work area by adopting new approaches
- Supporting the implementation of new ideas and ways of working
- Gathering ideas from different sources that may be utilised in own work area
- Encouraging colleagues to try new ways of working
- Creating an environment of constant challenge to the status quo
- Taking calculated risks in implementing untried solutions
Problems are becoming increasingly complex and numerous. It is therefore becoming an even more crucial management skill to be able to anticipate problems and to solve them quickly and effectively by taking an unbiased, rational approach to decision making.
- Reflecting on the consequences of straightforward options before making a decision
- Taking decisions within appropriate timeframes
- Escalating decision making to manager when appropriate
- Articulating the assumptions behind decisions
- Making decisions that have an impact outside own area of responsibility, having given due consideration to the likely consequences
- Appling a range of decision making techniques
- Involving colleagues appropriately
Effective managers are able to identify and prioritise required processes and actions to achieve agreed objectives; taking into account quality, timescales, process reviews and contingencies; in other words maximising the use of resources.
- Planning own time effectively
- Planning for predictable variations in work flow
- Utilising resources cost effectively
- Identifying priorities appropriately and focuses activities accordingly
- Setting milestones, reviewing progress and taking appropriate corrective action
- Adapting plans when faced with changed priorities or resources
Effective managers clarify performance expectations through agreed standards, objectives goals and accountability. Performance is clearly measured and constructive feedback given. If performance falls below expectations, action is taken.
- Being clear on own goals and performance indicators
- Acting upon feedback to improve personal performance
- Accepting responsibility for own successes and failures
- Agreeing specific and measurable goals, objectives and performance standards
- Explaining how individuals’ objectives link to the organisational strategy
- Discriminating between poor and acceptable, good and great performance and behaviour
- Holding regular, documented performance reviews
Effective managers are aware of, and able to use personal impact to establish credibility and sustain the respect and support of others. They are able to persuade others to accept or agree to a point of view after initial resistance.
- Presenting ideas in a constructive way
- Listening to other’s views and responds appropriately
- Asking questions to understand objections and offer appropriate counter proposals
- Presenting the benefits rather than solely the features of a proposal
- Proposing and seeking win/win solutions
- Anticipating likely resistance and preparing appropriate responses
Managers who develop their role more broadly than simply functional delivery; they see their main purpose as to change and transform wherever required.
- Demonstrating a point of view about relevant issues and sharing it, leading discussions appropriately
- Behaving proactively and taking responsibility when necessary
- Speaking of their role in terms of what they can contribute rather than as just the position they occupy
- Pushing the boundaries of their role without sacrificing effectiveness
- Actively extending their circle of influence beyond their circle of control
- Demonstrating effective emotional control when under excessive pressure or stress
- Demonstrating respect for the personal values of others but challenging any behaviour that is reflective of values that contradict the organisation’s values or company policy