Tips, advice and musings to help you improve your management
and leadership skills
What’s currently holding you back in the workplace? Is it fear of failure? Fear of the lack of knowledge you imagine you have? Or is it a lack of technical ability you aren’t sure you can make up for?
Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your technical skills in the workplace. We’ve talked about a few of these things before – like reading technical books, taking online tutorial classes, and even befriending the IT guys. But what else can you do?
College classes aren’t just for those aiming to earn a degree. Are you having problem learning the ins and outs of a particular program. Check the schedule at your local college and find out if there is a class available. Some colleges offer classes for their degree students while others offer workshops and tutorial programs for people with specific interests.
Let’s assume you need a software program that will perform xyz function. Chances are there are about a dozen or more programs on the market that claim to do just that. The problem is that some are easier to use than others. Don’t feel bad about using more than one program to get the job done. Eventually you’ll find the one that works best for you, automatically eliminating some of your technical disability.
This sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? The truth, though, is that the best way to gain technical experience is by doing things that require technical skill. I’m not asking you to build the next great money-making website. Start small by creating something your team can use to stay in touch. As you learn about web design and programming you’ll slowly but surely lose your fear of technology.
Practice makes perfect. The better you are with technology the more valuable you’ll be to your organisation.
As a manager or trainer you have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to quality control within your organisation – both as it applies to your product and as it applies to your customer service team. As such, it’s important to recognise that a large majority of the errors that occur within your organisation go unreported and if they are not caught early you may have a rather large problem on your hands when they finally are uncovered.
So why aren’t those errors being reported? There are really two main reasons.
First of all, there are not very many people who care enough about their organisation, or anyone else’s organisation, to take the time to report an error that could be easily corrected. It’s a little bit sad, isn’t it? The average person simply won’t take a few minutes to pick up the phone, walk down to your office, or shoot you a quick email. They will see the error, acknowledge the error, walk away from the error, and forget about it.
The second reason is because the individual who catches the error feels it is insignificant OR feels that if he is the person to bring it to your attention he will be blamed and/or punished. These individuals feels it’s easier and, in some cases, safer to keep their mouths shut and let the errors continue in order to avoid unwarranted blame. Though I must add that if you suspect this is the reason your employees don’t point out errors you should really take a step back and review your management skills. Your employees should never be afraid to approach you, especially if they’re doing so in order to point out a problem that may have a negative impact on your team’s overall performance.
So what’s the resolution? It’s really up to you but you need to make sure your employees know they can approach you at any time without fear of retribution. The earlier an error is identified the less it will cost you (in both time and money).
Do you go to work fearing something will go wrong – not because you don’t know how to do your job but because you still have trouble using the programs and systems put in place to make your life easier? If this is the case, it’s time to work on enhancing your technical skills. Doing so will not only help to secure your future but will allow you to go to work with a sense of calm instead of fear.
For those of us who aren’t techies, reading a technologically oriented book may seem like a nightmare. In truth, picking up a couple of simple books and familiarizing yourself with a few technological concepts really can’t hurt. For example, if you’re not good with Microsoft Excel you might pick up a book about the program itself. You may learn how to simply a function that you were having trouble with and, at worst, you might learn the correct verbage to use when asking your IT department for help.
There is no excuse for not knowing the names of the guys who work in your organisation’s IT department. You should not only know who they are, but you should have a good working relationship with them as well. Make friends with these people, and you’ll not only learn a little bit about your computer but they’ll be more likely to help you out when you have problems or training issues – even if they’re having a bad or busy day.
I know they’re time consuming, but online tutorials were designed for a reason – to make your life easier. It may seem like a waste of time to spend 30 minutes listening to an online training program, but imagine how much faster you could have solved that last tech problem had you only taken the time to watch the online training video that a) probably answered your question and b) probably ran shorter than it took you to find your own solution.
Enhancing your technical skills will give you the tools you need to effectively communicate as well. Make sure technical skill training sessions are included in your management courses and you’ll be surprised at how much more effective your and your fellow managers can really be.
July 29, 2008
Today I want to spend a little bit of time discussing the first managerial skill on yesterday’s list: technical skills.
While it may not seem important to some, a lack of technical skill will result in ineffective results when it comes to completing your own day to day tasks while at the same time guiding your team.
The juggling act will eventually become unbearable! Learn More