How Managers Can Learn New Skills

Managers need to find the time to learn new things
Managers need to find the time to learn new things
Image Credit: go digital

Managers, at least the good ones, realize that we don’t know it all. Sure, back in the day we went to school and took a lot of classes. We learned a lot. Then we went out and got jobs. Since then we’ve probably not been learning that many new things. As the world in which we work continues to spin and evolve, we understand that there are a lot of things that we probably need to take the time to learn about. Things like agile development, that new 5G wireless technology, even things like emotional management. The problem that we all face is to find the time that is needed to learn new things. How can we make this happen?

Prioritize Your Time

The problem that most managers have is that we think that we can do everything. It turns out that we really can’t. What we need to do is to take the time to determine everything that we are going to need to know in order to be a good manager. However, if you are like me, you are quickly going to discover that this is an untenable way of working, and you need to focus your energies on the skills you need right away. When you have this understanding, you need to brainstorm a list of all of the things that you need to figure out in order to succeed – these can range from daily operations and hiring to building a solid team through team building exercises. Then you need to put them in order based on what needs to happen first.

There are so many aspects of being a manager to consider, but you are only one person, and you can’t do everything at once. You need to choose the most pressing and focus on that, and don’t waste your limited resources on attempting to juggle learning a bunch of things that you don’t really need to know.

Make Sure To Focus On One Thing At A Time

Look, you are only one person. You can only do so much at one time. I suspect that you have been known to have multiple tabs open on your browser for weeks or even months on end, full of things that you are hoping to read or learn, but you just haven’t had time for. What you need to realize that is when you allow the tasks on your “to learn” list to get to an unmanageable number, they start to weigh you down rather than inspiring you as professional development should. Prior to you continue adding even more tabs to the mix, start paring down your current list by choosing one item to attack every day.

Take The Time To Schedule Time To Learn

Guess what: you are not going to be able to learn anything new if you don’t take the time to learn it. Most managers schedule absolutely everything into their day — they know it just won’t get done otherwise. I suspect that it’s more than likely that some of the learning resources on your list would take only five or 10 minutes to read, but since you’ve allowed so many to build up, they seem insurmountable.

I would suggest that you take a different approach. Realize that you can only do one thing at a time, so take a few extra minutes at the start or finish of your workday where the only thing you’re focusing on is that one piece of learning. You are in control of how much time you schedule for this and when, so just make sure you’re actually putting it in your calendar and treating it as a requirement, rather than an elective or hobby.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be a good manager, we all need to be growing and learning new things. The problem that most managers bump into is that our days are so busy that we simply don’t have the time to learn anything new. We spend so much time trying to get the critical things done, that when the day is over, we’re so tired that the thought of trying to do one more thing is just too much. What we need is a plan to work learning into our lives.

The first thing that we need to do is to find a way to prioritize our time. What this means is that we need to determine everything that we have to working on, including learning, and then put them in order to make sure that they’ll get done. Next, we need to take the time to focus on one thing at a time. Take on one learning task a day. Finally, we need to allocate the time that learning will require. Use the time at the beginning or the end of the day to squeeze your learning in.

As managers we understand that the world that we live in is constantly changing. What this means is that we need to take the time to keep learning new things in order to stay current. We all have busy schedules, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn new things. Use these tips to find the time in your day to learn something new and then use that new knowledge to become a better manager.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How much time each day do you think that you should allocate to learning something new?

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