You’re Great at Managing Others — But How Well Do You Manage Yourself?

The best managers balance their needs with their direct reports and company. Here’s how they do it.

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You're Great at Managing Others — But How Well Do You Manage Yourself?
Are you struggling with self-management in the workplace?

As a manager, you’ve honed your management skills and become adept at understanding how to get the best out of others. But do you know how to get the best out of yourself?

Even as you enhance your managerial prowess, you must sharpen your self-management skills to ensure you are contributing to the company equitably. Read on to learn 10 critical self-management skills you need and how to develop them.

Why do managers need self-management skills?

Management uses a lot of energy. As your team grows, and you are responsible for more team members, it’s easy to let your progress fall to the wayside. Instead, great managers focus on learning self-management in the workplace so they can show up for their team and do great work.

Burnout among top performers, like managers, creates a huge issue for employers. Managers need self-management skills so they can stick up for their needs and work in an environment that serves them.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are putting in a lot of effort toward understanding the importance of burnout and company culture thanks. But they need some help. Managers who are knowledgeable about strategies for self-management can help their employers show up for their people.

10 essential self-management skills for every leader

What are the skills that support self-management for managers? These are the tools that ensure you are working smarter, not harder. Applying these self-management skills at work will help you create a healthy work environment for yourself and your direct reports.

1. SMART goal-setting

Effective goal setting is an essential skill for managers to have. Goals need to tie into your organization’s larger vision. Working toward misaligned goals can make it harder to accomplish anything because there will always be more important things to work on.

While there are many goal frameworks, SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

If you follow this framework, you can set actionable goals that help you and your team move forward together.

Effective goal setting is an essential skill for managers to have. Goals need to tie into your organization’s larger vision.

2. Role clarification

As a manager, you will likely wear many different hats. While executives often expect managers to step outside their job description, clarity is critical. For example, when does working on a project go from helping out to absorbing a new responsibility? Do you have the energy to work on that project? Great managers know when they have too much on their plate.

3. Adaptability

Organizational priorities shift often. A key strategy for self-management in the workplace is learning to adapt to these changes and pivot gracefully. If you are change-averse, management may not be the best career path. Managers are often the first people to hear about changes, and they need to react to them appropriately.

4. Priority management

If your to-do list is like most, it’s likely a mile long. But, if you could only accomplish 3 things today, what would you do? Priority management is one of the most essential self-management skills. Triaging your to-do list (and your direct reports’ lists) for maximum company impact will help your team be successful.

5. Organization

When someone asks you to find a contract or locate a missing receipt, how long does it take you? Digital and physical organization are essential strategies for self-management. Organized employees spend less time flagging down documents and getting ready to tackle the workday. As you take on more responsibilities, let go of time-wasting habits so that you can show up for all your staff members.

6. Reliability

One of the simplest self-management skills is DWYSYWD, or doing what you say you will do. Can your direct reports, colleagues, and managers expect that you will accomplish what you set out to do? If you aren’t reliable, you might find that your team and colleagues leave you out of decision-making opportunities. If you’re on the outside looking in, your title as a manager could be in jeopardy.

7. Burnout detection

Employee burnout is a critical issue among workers and organizations. Dealing with it effectively starts at the top. Spotting when you are burnt out is vital because it saves company time and resources. The next time you are experiencing burnout, say something. Take a vacation, offload a project, and take care of yourself.

8. Time management

Busy managers realize they need to set boundaries and manage their meetings to make the most of their day.

Are you perpetually late or overbooked? Managers need to be in many places while still making time for their own goals. Busy managers realize they need to set boundaries and manage their meetings to make the most of their day. Time management can be as simple as:

  • Blocking off your calendar for focus time
  • Setting up meetings with gaps between so you are fine if a meeting runs over
  • Moving to asynchronous communication for some tasks to make the most of your day

Understanding what time management means for you and your role in the company can help you sharpen your management abilities.

9. Initiative

When you know that something needs to be done, do you wait for others to bring it up? Can you take the initiative to accomplish the task or make sure that someone else is on your team is doing it? Ensuring that your team tackles tasks efficiently will take you and your direct reports far.

10. Accountability

This final self-management skill deals with your integrity as a manager. When something goes awry, are you able to acknowledge your part of the mistake? Do you know what you’ll do next time to avoid the same outcome? Being accountable for your actions is a crucial part of self-management for managers.

Get better at managing yourself

The best part of all these skills is that you can improve them. As a manager, you can always work on goal setting or reliability. It’s not too late to make a difference in your career. Spend a month or a quarter focused on building great habits and improving the skill you lack most. As you grow in managing yourself, you’ll get better at managing others.
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