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Management as Tradecraft

At Tractus, we have a philosophy – Management as Tradecraft. We believe that management competencies are ones that you can hone over time. Yet too often, people are promoted or hired into management roles without ensuring they have the skills to be successful managers. Because they have been successful in their previous roles, it’s assumed that they will be successful at directing others doing that same type or similar work.

We believe that “managing” is deploying a set of competencies developed over time. Managers can attain these skills even more quickly and effectively with mentoring and coaching, similar to the master-apprentice relationship.

Key skills that managers need include:

  • Assuming responsibility for shared goals

  • Communicating directly and at multiple levels

  • Thinking critically and holistically

  • Solving problems creatively

  • Innovating effectively

  • Delegating while ensuring accountability

  • Embracing the collective mindset

  • Learning through experience

  • Adopting a continuous improvement mindset

  • And many others…

Individual contributors should have a development road map to ensure continued skill growth; as a manager, you should have one as well. Beyond creating a plan for accomplishing individual project goals, you should devote some energy to developing and strengthening your managerial skills. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of role do you envision yourself fulfilling in five years?

  • What skills are necessary for success in that role? Which of these do you currently possess?

  • How can you use your current strengths to build up weaker areas?

  • What resources are available to you to add or strengthen skill sets? And how much energy do you have to devote to building up your skills?

  • Who, in your immediate network, do you trust to give you honest feedback on your areas of professional strengths and weaknesses?

It’s critical to seek out feedback and honest assessments from those whom you trust. It can sometimes be challenging to be truly objective in evaluating others’ abilities, especially when there are social or hierarchical relationships at stake. By seeking input from a range of individuals – including colleagues, supervisors, subordinates, mentors, and key industry contacts – you can develop a well-rounded picture of the areas in which you excel as well as struggle.

Once you have identified where you want to go and what you need to get there, you can create a plan for acquiring, practicing, and mastering any skills you currently lack. Not every skill is intuitive, and some of these will be easier than others; but, as Mark Twain once said, “continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” Steady progress toward your goals as a manager gives you the tools to build and sustain your team and contribute to your organization’s success.

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