I have covered some very basic general management principles in my first two articles. I want to wrap up this group of articles before going into employee relation skills by addressing the importance of continuing education. This does not mean running down to your local college, though that is very valuable if you need to learn a new or expanded skill, like preparing to manage in a new area of the business you are in. I want to focus on how you can really pick up on the successes of others. First and foremost, have a mentor. Make sure that your mentor is also a leader. You do not want to spend your valuable time being mentored by someone that has not had successes along the way. Follow the successful! The purpose of mentoring is to short cut your learning curve. There is only so much time in your life and you do not have enough of it to learn all of the lessons on your own. So, borrow from others! When should mentoring start? As soon as possible. You can learn valuable lessons anywhere along your career path. It is OK to have more than one! I always go back to the verse in Proverbs, “In the abundance of counselors there is victory.” Available counselors are all around you. This acknowledges that you do not know it all and need to rely on the experiences and wisdom of others.
One of the characteristics you want to have to get the most out of mentoring is to be willing to change. If someone else is doing something better than you are, don’t stumble over your pride of authorship. I had someone ask me this exact question years ago. He knew that I wanted to do everything right and at that point, I thought that I was. I am sure that he thought that I believed that I knew all the answers. He asked me, “If you saw someone doing something better than you, what would you do? I said, “I would change immediately.” This allows you to get the most from the available education around you. Never believe that you have all the answers. Keep your eyes, ears and heart open to new ideas and approaches.
Here is one more recommendation, one that you have probably have not heard before. Maintain a relationship with management employees two levels up from where you are. This will give you another view of your current business situations. This needs to be done in full view of the person you report to so that you do not appear to be jumping over your boss, which is not a good idea. You can usually accomplish this by asking questions that your boss’s boss needs to answer. Your boss may ask you to join a conversation that your boss has with the person he or she reports to. Take advantage of these opportunities. Be humble and your view will likely be requested.
Here are a few more educational items for you. First, remember that one of your jobs is to make the person you report to successful. That is why you were put into your position in the first place. He or she is accountable for what you do! Second, do not burn bridges. You never know when you will run into the person you used to report to again. It is also possible that he may report to you someday! You want that to go to smoothly. And finally, let your work speak for itself. Humility beats pride when moving up the ladder of responsibility.