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by Vartika Kashyap

We all are managers in our own sense. I mean, we all manage our life. No matter a student or a football player, we all have to strike the right balance between different facets to become successful at whatever we are doing. We won’t be able to live a good life unless we strike the right balance.

Imagine a scenario where you have someone overlooking whatever you are doing in your life at every step. Someone asking for everything that you’ve done. In short micromanaging your life. Would you like it? I’m sure no one would.

Now let’s relate this to a team handled by a manager in any large corporation. The team includes subject matter experts (of course they are experts, otherwise why would they even get hired). And, then there is the manager. It is his/her responsibility to make sure that things in the project don’t go south. And, the tasks (and the entire project in general) get completed on time.

But more often than not, the managers forget about the bigger picture. And, they get stuck with minor details, a term referred to as micromanagement. In fact, statistics support this fact that micromanagement is the most common reason why teams fail to deliver project. Still this is a common scenario observed in majority of the organizations (if not all).

And, that’s why we have a horde of managers, but only a few great ones. So what can a manager do to go to that next level? How can a manager become a great manager? Well, my answer to this question is  simple – Stop being a manager!

Shocked? Don’t be, here’s what I mean –

Stop speaking, start listening

While researching for an article last week, I read a quote on a website about silence. It goes something like this “Speak only when you feel that your words are better than your silence”. And, I guess the quote fits perfectly to the job of a manager. As a manager you need to stop speaking and start to listen.

For instance, before assuring the delivery date to the management/client be sure to sit with the resources who are going to work on the tasks. Get to know about their opinion on how you should proceed, and how much time will it take to get it over and done with. Listen to what they have to say. After all, being the subject matter experts, they are going to be a better judge of the entire situation.

Be empathetic, not apathetic

People believe that brashness and arrogance comes naturally with being a manager. But, that should not be the case. Being a manager does not always mean you have to shout on others. Or, dismiss their requests without giving a thought. It’s more about being an empathetic leader of the team.

If you want your team to go that extra mile and inspire them, you need to strike that emotional connect. And, show them how much you value their efforts. Being tough on them is not going to cut it. After all, you are dealing with real humans and not machines.

Become a creator and not executor

Gone are the days when a manager was a an executor. Changing times are a call for managers who can inspire teams to create bigger and better things (products/services). You need to embrace the fact that as a manager your team looks at you for inspiration.

Take a look at any of the innovators of all generations, they were great creators. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Jack Ma, or any other name that comes to your mind; they were all non-followers of conventional management ways. They were all creators. And, do I need to mention what they managed to achieve in their life?

Look at the bigger picture

Being a manager it is your responsibility to build a team that gels together. Create a team that is willing to enter a battlefield with you, if required. (just a cliche, handling a project is no lesser than going to battlefield in itself). But if you just focus on accomplishing success in the project on hands, and ignoring the future, then consider it to be a bad decision.

For instance, putting too much pressure on just one resource. Even when you know  he/she has more than plenty in his/her platter. This is going to force them to look for better options elsewhere. Don’t pressurise your team members. Or else they will reach to a condition of burnouts in every project. And if you do, then don’t expect them to stick for long with your team.

You need to value the resources. Distribute work according to the expertise + availability of the resource. Not to forget, keeping yourself as well as the team away from office politics. These things are going to help you build a team which is going to stay with you for years to come.

Embrace the learning curve

If you want to become a great manager remember this quote “once you stop learning, you start dying”.

Learning never stops. There is no point in being a jack of all trades, but master of none. You can have knowledge of many fields, but you can’t master them all. Don’t forget there are subject matter experts who are working as part of your team. And, every day you can learn so many new things. You just have to embrace the fact that you don’t know everything about every topic. This will help you in enhancing your technical skills. And, at the same time will also create a good rapport with the team members.

Everything is right in front of you. Now you have to decide. Whether you want to be just any other ordinary manager who runs an ordinary team? Or you want to take the leap of faith and become a great manager?

Hope this post was helpful. Don’t forget to share your story if these points helped you achieve success as a project manager.

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