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Progressive Management

Recently, I’ve been learning some new skills and re-aquiring some old ones. So I’m paying attention to the process involved in developing a new skill. How I developed the ability to manage people is something I haven’t been able to figure out.

Steve Pavlina posted a great article on using progressive training to learn:

… progressive training means changing various aspects of your training to increase the challenge, including distance, speed, duration, etc. If you keep lifting the same weights week after week, you aren’t going to get much stronger. Progressive training helps ensure that you remain in the sweet spot of challenge, so you grow stronger in less time than you would otherwise.

This is something well understood within most physical activities. Progression is something that I hear often when listening to snowboarders talk. There is a clear path to improvement. Other things I’ve learnt have a very clear progression: tennis, mathematics, software development, etc.

What is the progression for “management”?

I’ve spent the last few years managing people in a few environments and I think I’ve improved. But it isn’t clear to me how to improve from where I’m at. What is the next heaviest weight, the next big jump, the next technique to learn?

Part of the problem is that I’ve never formally been taught to “manage”. It is a skill acquired through a combination of necessity and circumstance. Not satisfied with that, I’m reading a large number of books on management and related skills.

There doesn’t seem to be a right path. Instead, I now have a range of views from different authors and mentors about the best ways to manage under different circumstances.

Looking around at my peers, the people who reported to me and the people I reported to, the quality of management didn’t correlate with position in the organisational chart. Rising up the rungs within a company doesn’t equate with a progression of the skill of management. Often rising higher indicates other skills, such as project success, or sales, or good timing.

So if you are in a position of management, what is it that you do to increase your managerial skills? What is the heavy lifting to progress to the next level?

Bonus links:

Current management theories

Modern management example