How To Be An Adaptable Manager
Many managers are confident they can retain their skills over time. Experience shows they are wrong. The world is fast-paced and only the most adaptable will survive.
Staying relevant and constantly updating yourself is the new Normal.
To not do this is to see your performance systematically decline over time and to just watch, helpless, as other managerial grades pass you by and you fall down the proverbial pecking order. Ultimately dismissal or redundancy will be your fate.
There is a proven link between tenure and effectiveness – we can see this in an extreme in professional football management where failure to deliver results brings only one outcome.
Learning from past mistakes and then modifying and updating your skill set is an absolute must do for all managers.
So, what to do?
- Be adaptable. If the demands of the position mean that you need to retrain to get, say, more technical knowledge, then this is the way it must be. Relying on your degree that you obtained 25 years ago is frankly laughable so your skill set needs to be reviewed every 6 months to be abreast of new developments, thinking and applications. Or you could just do nothing.
- In highly competitive industries, staying relevant and maintaining success can be achieved by finding ways to get small advantages over the competition. This sounds great but can only be achieved by consciously looking away from just your operation into what the competition are doing and identifying where small efficiencies can be woven into what you are doing. Or you could just do nothing.
- Be innovative. The most important innovations come from cutting edge thinking where managers are not afraid to propose what might seem to be possibly unusual or even very risky ways of doing things. Or you could just do nothing.
- Squeeze the margins. Look for small cost savings that then build up into bigger savings overall. This is especially powerful in sectors that are highly competitive, price sensitive and where there is too much competition. Look at your biggest cost, identify where a small percentage can be saved (possibly by looking at cheaper raw materials, components or a different staffing mix) and then cost that out. Good adaptability to market conditions! Or you could just do nothing.
- Collaborate effectively with stakeholders. The most successful managers strive to be strong communicators and work effectively with key stakeholders. Sharing views, opinions and experiences are critical here. Or you could just do nothing.
- Maximise the potential offered by Outsourcing. If you have less-critical tasks or tasks in areas of non-expertise to manage get rid of them and use the savings to invest back into the marketplace. Any part of the business that is not your best area of expertise need to be given to someone for whom that is their best area of expertise. Your effort and application to the market is the only relevance you need. Or you could just do nothing.
- Continuous learning. Maintaining your curiosity, asking questions and being willing to learn from different people, sometimes outside of your own area of expertise, is an essential skill. Just because the skills and challenges in a totally separate organisation, in a different market, look nothing like your own is no valid reason for not asking questions of that organisation! How do they organise their activity, source customers and manage the competition? Network as much as humanly possible. Or you could just do nothing.
Being adaptable is hard: it takes time, patience and determination but it is totally essential if you are to maintain your current position, let alone develop and progress.
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