Unfortunately, managers and administrators are often forced to spend most of their time and energy on the needs of others and neglect to spend time on their own professional development. However, spending time on planning, supervising, and evaluating yourself will help you be more successful in a leadership role. Here are seven tips that may help young managers and administrators continue their development.
1. “Walk the talk” when it comes to professional growth
If you try to help your employees reach their maximum potential by emphasizing professional development, do you follow your own advice? You are responsible for your professional development. The following tips will help you toward that goal:
• If you maintain professional connections with former colleagues, make an effort to see at least two of those contacts at least once per month to talk about the industry and the future of the profession. Face-to-face communication and contact is essential in relationship development.
• On a quarterly basis, seek out challenging opportunities at work that push you beyond ordinary tasks and routines.
• Volunteer for a nonprofit organization, attend a conference, or take a class related to your field. Whatever you choose, you will be surrounding yourself with people that you have never met, and important conversations may come up.
• Give yourself a performance review by being honest about your strengths, weaknesses, and what you should focus on in the future.
2. The more homework for you, the better
Never let your ego get in the way of your desire to learn. Be open and accepting when it comes to new experiences and educational opportunities. If you’ve become an expert in one field, seek out other fields where you can transfer and apply your expertise. This will expand and challenge you personally and professionally.
3. Use sports as your advantage
Being particularly good at something gives us confidence and guarantees that when we are asked to help, we will perform as expected. Use this tennis analogy: If your forehand is your stronger stroke, often you will position yourself in such a way that you maximize using it, which enables you to put forth a solid effort and reputation of performance. Effective managers and administrators know that in order to gain a competitive advantage, they need to develop their weaknesses into strengths by improving their weak points. In this notion, there is no better way to impress others than to reveal a killer backhand when everyone is expecting a forehand!
4. Stop saying “That’s the way I am”
When in a management or administrative position, you may have a tendency to excuse certain behaviors by claiming, “It’s just the way I am!” Instead of insisting that change is impossible, assume that these behaviors may be impeding success for your peers and employees. Furthermore, do not think of these behaviors as character traits, but as possibilities for improvement. You just might be amazed at how a minimal change can help everyone succeed, including yourself.
5. Meet with yourself
Scheduling and attending meetings is an important task in most managerial jobs, and many young professionals will certainly strive to never cancel or fail to maintain their best attendance. The question is: Do you follow the same tactic with yourself? No matter how busy you are, scheduling meetings or times for reflection and self-inquiry is not a luxury, it is crucial! Every week, schedule a meeting with yourself to reflect on recent critical events at work, such as conflicts among peers, opportunities explored, observations of others’ behavior, feedback received from others, and so on. An hour may be adequate for you to reflect on your responses to the previously mentioned events and what went well, what needs improvement, and what might be more effective in the future. Never cancel this meeting!
6. Go old school with index cards
There is a reason why students use index cards when studying—it works. This system helps students review course material by allowing them to be honest with themselves about how well they actually know the information. The physicality of the cards forces them to reflect on the material at the end of the day, and the act of writing down the important material helps them remember and process the information. In the same way, carry index cards with you and take notes or write down any great ideas or thoughts. The presence of the blank cards in your pockets can also be a great reminder to be looking for new ideas and, most importantly, continually listening to everyone around you.
7. Conceptualize a vision
It is never too late to clarify and refine your vision about your job. To get started, identify three or four important events in your life that helped define who you are today. For each event, you may begin to articulate how it shaped and built your personal values. Now, use the same approach when drafting a statement of our personal vision on the job. Every vision should be a compelling image of a positive and achievable future. In this personal narrative, focus on a description of the kind of manager and administrator you want to become and the possibility of major contributions to the world between now and 10 years into the future. What will you be doing a decade from now, and what will be your impact on that future?
Many people offer suggestions for enhancing your management style and skills. Experience is the best teacher, though, and through these effective tips, you may make the best use of the experiences you may already have and maximize experiences yet to come.