Management isn’t easy, especially in today’s changing world. It seems that as time goes on, the job becomes more challenging, with new technologies and progressive ideals taking over the workplace. This change demands an evolution in management strategies and techniques for anybody that wants to lead successfully in the modern age.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to sharpen up your management skills, and they’re listed below. Pick one of them, and do it the next time you go into the office. Every time you go in, or maybe once a week, commit to doing one of these things — and you’ll be a better manager in no time.

1. Brush Up on Management Styles

First things first, you’ll want to make sure that you are able to manage in any type of situation. This is will essentially come down to your management styles. Practice these six, as written about by Daniel Goleman in his book “Primal Leadership”:

  • Visionary: “Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, take calculated risks,” write Mr. Goleman and his co-authors.
  • Coaching: Coaching works best, Mr. Goleman writes, “with employees who show initiative and want more professional development.”
  • Affiliative: Goleman argues this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.”
  • Democratic: This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals.
  • Pacesetting: In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is “obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.” But Mr. Goleman warns this style should be used sparingly.
  • Commanding: This is classic model of “military” style leadership — probably the most often used, but the least often effective … Mr. Goleman argues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed.

Utilize these styles adaptively for whatever situation the modern age throw at you.

2. Engage Your Employees

Disengaged employees are one of the biggest problems facing modern workforces. Some may feel overworked, some may feel undervalued, and some may just not feel very connected to their company and the people in it.

One of the best ways to increase employee engagement is to make sure that you’re holding regular performance review. The experts at Northeastern University  believe that “by reviewing the performance of your staff members at periodic intervals, they will gain greater understanding of how their position contributes to the goals of the company and likely become more invested in the outcome.”

Other ways that you can increase employee engagement is simply to be transparent, offer visibility, and even saying “thank you.” These things will make the employee feel involved, appreciated, and essential to your team.

3. Seek Knowledge, Stay Educated

Any manager worth their salt will always be trying to get better at what they do. Pursuing further education might be just what the doctor ordered.

“If you’re going to manage anything in a corporation,” says Reynold Byers, a clinical professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, “as far as I’m concerned, an MBA is crucial.”

On the other hand, perhaps post-secondary education isn’t your cup of tea, and “staying educated” means simply staying on top of the world of business around you. Managers in the modern age need to keep up on digital trends and management training, and they need to continually sharpen their sword, so to speak.

For example, cybersecurity has become a huge problem in the past couple of years, affecting businesses of all sizes. The biggest culprit? Managers and employees that don’t understand technology enough to protect themselves and their organizations.

Always be seeking out new knowledge, and your management skills will improve as a result.

4. Embrace Telecommunication and Remote Work

The digital age has brought about a number of changes to the workplace, including where it exists. The rise of remote work has been a boon to businesses that know how to manage and wrangle it, but it has brought its own spat of challenges for managers and business owners as well.

Workflow Max offers these 8 tips for those attempting to manage mobile workforces:

  1. Set Fixed Work Hours: Fixed online “office hours” helps your remote staff to cultivate that psychological distinction between work and play. It creates the feeling of “being at work” even if you’re not physically there.
  2. Use Online Time Tracking: Whether working in a cafe, on a construction site, or in an Uber, online time tracking lets your employees clock in from anywhere and accurately reflect the work they do.
  3. Supply Equipment: If budget allows, try to supply essential work equipment for your remote workers. Depending on their role, this may involve a laptop, charger, protective bag and subscriptions to any online tools like the Adobe Suite. This isn’t just a luxury — it can have a huge impact on remote workers’ productivity, by reinforcing the psychological distinction between work and personal time.
  4. Hold Weekly Video Meetings: This will strengthen working relationships, help you allocate work, manage project deadlines, and lead with empathy.
  5. Experiment With Online Tools: The popularity of remote working has skyrocketed in recent years. Now there are online tools to help you manage almost every aspect of virtual teams — time tracking, screen monitoring, productivity, group chats, coordinating schedules, video meetings and more.
  6. Send a Digital Newsletter: Weekly or monthly digital newsletters will keep employees updated on official business as well as your company culture, including birthdays and accomplishments.
  7. Set Clear Expectations: Not knowing when tasks are due can create anxiety, confusion and procrastination in your remote workforce. Be as direct as possible about deadlines.
  8. Make Time for Banter: If you want to build a strong, cohesive team (and retain them long term), you need to cultivate good working relationships with all your staff. Ask your remote staff about their weekend plans, their thoughts on the latest Game of Thrones episode — anything you’d usually chat about with your team in an office environment.

Remote work might be a little bit different to manage than most leaders are used to, but learning how to deal with this type of workforce is essential for those in the modern age.

5. Don’t Just Manage; Lead

Last but absolutely not least, make sure that you’re not just managing, but actively leading. This means that you’re not just using your authority to make your employees follow you, but that you’re garnering trust so that they want to follow you.

A leader establishes and propels the vision of his or her organization, while a manager helps to organize the working parts that make this vision possible. You’ll have to work hard to ensure that you embody both roles — that of a leader and that of a manager.

By listening to employees, taking their feedback seriously, and establishing rapport with them as people and not just as employees, you’ll find that the people you manage every day are more motivated and willing to follow your organization’s trajectory.

Success won’t come over night …

But if you take these five tips to heart and continually practice your management technique, you’ll notice change begin to take root in no time. It’s important to remember that “becoming a good manager” isn’t something you just do and then are done with; it’s a continual process that requires constant refinement and reflection.

Nevertheless, anybody can become a better manager — the trick is that they have to want to be that manager. Continue striving to be better — for your employees, for your company, and for yourself. You might just wind up surprised by how far you can propel yourself.

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Andy Heikkila is a business owner, writer, and musician hailing from the lush Pacific NW. He enjoys running, drinking, and hanging out with his friends when he’s not working. Feel free to drop him a message on Twitter @AndyO_TheHammer.

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