Management 101: Handle your conflict, your staff, your life

All managers have one shared goal: get a promotion. But many times, a manager's job is so multifaceted and detail-laden that the manager loses sight of that big picture. Here are five jobs of a manager that are often lost in the muddle of managing smaller, day-to-day issues.

1. Manage conflict. Avoiding conflict is for people who want to lay low and move up by inertia. This plan will take you only so far. At some point, you have to meet conflict head on and show that you can resolve it. At the highest levels of management, leaders are essentially gathering competing opinions from the very informed and making a decision based on conflicting recommendations. Conflict at your level, e.g. "Karen is late on every project, and I don't want to work with her on the next one," is preparation for the next level. Don't shrink from this stepping-stone by hiding in the sand until the conflict resolves itself. Managing conflict allows you to become an arbitrator and negotiator, and most of all, someone who has developed good judgment on hard calls.

2. Manage your personal life. You’re kidding yourself if you think people don't see what's going on with you at home. Are you getting drunk every night? Are your finances a mess? You might think you’re hiding bad behavior from co-workers, but stress shows up in nonverbal, unexpected ways that make people uncomfortable and worried about your competence. People who seem to have shaky lives at home are time bombs at work. So instead of trying to hide your personal life, redirect that energy toward improving your situation.

3. Manage hearts and mind. Sure, you need to manage budgets, schedules, and strategy. But if you don't have people’s hearts on your side, your team won't over-perform for you. The easiest way to win the hearts of your team members is to genuinely care about them. You can't fake this. So if you don't genuinely care about people who work for you, ask yourself why you’re in management. Management is about helping people be their best. Once you genuinely care about people, you’ll be able to help them reach their goals at work– which, invariably, will reflect favorably on your own workplace performance.

4. Manage diversity. Diversity is not popular right now, when so many people worry about their job going overseas. But study after study shows that diverse teams perform better than homogenous teams. Managing diversity starts by hiring someone who’s not like everyone else on your team. Then do it again and again and find a way to make the team gel. Diverse teams are more difficult to manage– there are more opinions, more preconceptions, more quirks, and more conflicts. But top managers can leverage these difficulties to establish more innovative planning. No one became great by hiring only people who all think alike.

5. Manage a successor. If you're doing a good job, it's hard to convince your boss to promote you; he has no idea who will take your place, and he risks his own job performance by letting you replace yourself with someone who might not be as capable. Instead, train someone in-house to take over your job as soon as you have a handle on it. The person should be practically doing your job so that you can find areas where you can take on more responsibility before you ask for a promotion. Managing a successor allows you to first lead without the title, and then to ask for the new title. And more money.
Penelope Trunk has worked for many businesses and even started a few, and now she's too busy to write her column, so this advice is reprinted from an earlier edition of the Hook.

Read more on: corporate management