Help me up the ladder!

How can I become a better leader and manager?

Our elder has some tried and tested tips for managing your team at work, as well as managing “up”.

Dear EWC

I have become a team leader with a college, but now I am interacting with senior figures, I feel as though I’m not intelligent enough to hold conversations with members of the hierarchy. I feel as though I haven’t expanded my vocabulary enough, and that I don’t fully understand words or terms they use. I would like to know how I could improve this to help my career as it makes me feel really anxious.

Also, I’m not sure how ambitious I should be. I don’t want to chase job roles which could lead to staying at the office until 7pm completing reports. I want to remain on the ground and make a difference to people’s lives. But, I worry about boredom too, as in, how will I feel doing the same job in seven years time? How can I make myself a better leader and manage ‘up’ better? I gained a promotion but haven’t received any support to make myself better. I have had great role models in my life, and I try to follow the paths they have created, but any guidance here would be greatly received as I want to improve and make work incredibly rewarding and satisfying for my team. At the same time, I want them to hit the targets and continue working hard. What are the top tips that you could pass onto me please? I love listening to people and understanding how they themselves have been a success.

Shorty replies
Thanks for trusting the Elders for advice.

I very much appreciate that you are the kind of manager and employee who wants to improve their skills and expand their career horizon. This tells me a lot about you, and I certainly think that you will succeed with your career. I do have some suggestions from my experience as a former manager and as an employee who worked their way up the ladder in a large company.

I find that most of your concerns can be addressed with ongoing education. I think that you’ll find that feeling confident in your role, being an effective and respected manager, and finding promotional opportunities will come without too much effort if you are open to learning and unafraid to ask questions. This doesn’t have to be in a classroom, although there are some excellent online colleges with courses on management. Begin by noting those vocabulary words which are unfamiliar to you and look up their definitions or ask someone to explain the meaning (the word may have special meaning for your particular type of work). Make it a habit to write down three to five every week, and then use them in conversation or in your writing. You will feel less anxious now that you have a plan to conquer your gaps in vocabulary understanding, and you will be helping yourself prepare for more complex future job opportunities.

As far as promotions go, most supervisors or managers are looking for candidates who are willing to adapt and to learn. I would wager that your recent promotion was due in part to your positive attitude toward your work. It’s good to have ambition — no good boss wants a complacent employee — so don’t be afraid of that; just plan how you want to go. Certainly, there will be promotional opportunities available in the future which don’t seem attractive for various reasons, but I urge you to think more of a five year or ten year plan and goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? What is the career path to get there? Sometimes that path or plan involves a job which few people want but which can be a career builder if you excel there. Very successful people are often the ones who do what no one else wants to do. When a promotion opportunity comes up again, do your research on how it fits into your plan and then either pass or go for it.

I am very impressed that you want to make work satisfying and rewarding for your team. Managing an effective but content team of people will not only make your day-to-day work easier, it will represent you well with your managers and bosses. Here are some tips from my managerial experience:
Hold everyone accountable for their work in a fair and standard way. Good employees always know who the slacker or sneak is in the group — they want to know that you are aware and taking action to make the accumulative team better. No one wants to work hard for a boss who plays favorites.
Acknowledge extra effort or exceptional work of an employee(s) during your team meetings. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and it is motivating to the group to know that if anyone does more than the usual, they will be publicly recognized.

Create some friendly competitions among your team members (or with other teams in your division). Have fun making a big deal of this and award prizes for the winners (pizza for lunch, etc). The rewards don’t have to be big to be fun, but you may want to have the team agree on what they will be competing for. Think of ways to put a little fun into each week or to reach a specific company goal.
Help your employees to become more educated and experienced for their personal promotional opportunities. Show them how they can plan for a future with your company if they are motivated to continue growing and learning.
Show empathy and caring for each employee as a unique person. Managers often don’t know the challenges that an employee may be going through outside of the office. Supporting a good employee at a difficult time can truly make a difference in someone’s life— this is why it is important for you as a boss to know about the company’s human resources department and what employee support or help is available from the company. Educating yourself on policies and procedures can help you to be an advocate for your team members so that they receive what is provided.
Whew, I think I’ve gone on long enough, but I hope this was helpful. My last piece of advice to you is to continue to maintain your attitude of wanting more satisfaction from your work and more fulfillment for your workers. You will go as far as you want to go. My best wishes for a long and satisfying career!

Letter #: 454782
Category: Career

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