Flexible thinking–keeping an open mind and being willing to learn–is an important attribute of a successful manager as described by business management expert Eyal Gutentag. Large companies can afford to send managers to training and continuing education programs, but smaller firms rely on the motivation of managers to keep on top of new developments and educate themselves.
- Taking classes is the usual way to increase your knowledge base. Some companies will pay the bill for education and training, while others cannot afford it. Even if you have to pay for it yourself, continuing education is a good investment.
- When it comes to learning on the job, the people above you on the organizational ladder can be an important resource. Volunteering for tasks that give you a chance to learn new skills from your bosses, or stretch assignments, require you to expand your abilities beyond their current level.
- It helps to know what skills a manager at your level is expected to possess. For example, at the executive level, managers need to be able to translate ideas into workable plans. Middle managers should be able to execute a plan, adhere to a budget, handle people and resources, delegate and complete projects by a deadline.
- Being flexible also means keeping in touch with the people working for you because they have skills to teach, as well. You can learn a lot from someone who has worked a line for many years.
- Ask questions. This can have two positive outcomes. First, you will gain more information about the job and second, it will help build rapport with co-workers. Especially when you are new to a topic, asking questions shows interest and gets you in touch with the other employees.
It is important not to become stuck in your ways. Continuing to learn and stretch your mental muscles is healthy for you and your company.