Being a business owner or an executive in a company requires excellent interpersonal skills and knowledge of effective management practices.
Maintaining the best management practices gets difficult when businesspeople are constantly flooded with new information that sometimes contradicts their previous knowledge. COVID-19 changed the business context, forced us to work remotely, which put additional pressure on organisations to re-organise their processes and still keep the motivation up.
Both of these required good management skills in action. Working in a bespoke software development company, I know that solid business skills are a mixture of personal qualities, field expertise and practical experience. Thankfully, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel as there is a lot of accumulated knowledge available so that every businessperson can tailor it according to their unique needs and context.
1. Apply storytelling approaches
We live in the information age, and as an effect, the attention span and the memory capacities of some of us may gradually decline, especially under stressful circumstances. How does this apply to business management? Successful businesspeople try not to force knowledge on their subordinates but convey them an important message in a way that is easy to understand.
A helpful way to make sure your word will be remembered is to use storytelling. Usually, we tend to remember facts, situations or complex connections when we embed them in stories. What is more, research suggests that through stories, we can retain information better because of the activation of sensory centers in our brains that make us feel as if we’re part of that story. One can only get better at storytelling through practice, but there are also some pointers for those seeking to improve their skills. For example, be passionate about your story, use detailed descriptions and be careful what voice and body language you use.
2. Enhance your negotiation skills
Another essential management skill to practice is negotiation. Everything in life can be viewed as some form of negotiation, even outside of the business world. The way we make plans choose where to go out and how we handle an argument with a friend are simple examples. Negotiation skills are crucial for any businessperson because good negotiation is fundamental for high-quality product delivery. An example from the Agile world: if the Product Owner (Scrum) can’t negotiate priorities with a client well enough and accepts too many tasks, the developers will most likely fail to complete them during the sprint.
The practice of business negotiation will help you maintain better professional relationships, agree on better contract conditions with a partner and generally avoid potential conflicts. Negotiation approaches vary from situation to situation, and it would be best if you learn to apply them accordingly as they benefit your sales, management processes. The three main approaches are hard (extreme bargaining), soft (yielding + compromise), and principled negotiation, which aims to harvest win-win results for both parties in the long run.
3. Be a realistic visionary leader
Many business thought leaders create a hype around aiming high, winning big and striving to achieve more valuable company goals. An organisational vision is indeed necessary to inspire employees and have a driving force that creates momentum in difficult times, such as during a pandemic.
But even lower-level managers can support CEOs in this task. Harvard Business Review suggests that aspiring leaders can contribute to the broad company’s vision by communicating valuable client experiences. As a team manager, you can help translate the bigger vision within your team and thus develop a front-line team vision, which could, later on, be moved up to help the company grow in a meaningful way.
These are all feasible management strategies, but what many popular ones often omit is the reality factor, and it is certainly not one to underestimate. Be wise and avoid putting the cart in front of the horse. This means to always be aware of your professional context, be it company culture, national (and global) economy state, undiscovered opportunities, solid technical knowledge etc. It is good to have a vision, but it is even better to fulfil it based on your real expert skills.
4. Combine internal with external best practices
Speaking of best management practices, we should keep in mind that there are two main types: internal and external. Internal practices refer to those your company has created and adopted through internal processes and rules. The external management practices include industry-specific practices obtained through seminars or training, for example.
To get the best of both worlds, strive to continuously learn new management practices and then experiment with them to see if they influence your professional environment. For example, we at Dreamix implemented what we call “Quiet hours” that happen daily between 2-4 pm. The idea behind this is to create a two-hour time slot for everyone to concentrate on their core tasks without Slack distractions or phone calls. So far, this practice has significantly improved our productivity and concentration.
5. Acknowledge your stress factors
You can’t find a solution without identifying the underlying problem first. That is why doctors assess your health, put a diagnosis and then recommend a treatment plan. If it needs modifications, it can always be adjusted to suit the individual needs as they change. As a businessperson, this simple analogy also finds common ground with your professional life.
Firstly, you need to revise what causes your stress levels to elevate. Do you suffer from decision fatigue that affects your problem-solving skills? Researchers have found that the more decisions we make, the harder it is to make another decision. This limits our brain energy capacities and results in searching for shortcuts.
Secondly, you need to find possible solutions that can help you cope. In case you experience decision fatigue, you can define clear boundaries regarding the problem areas you commit to solving, you can delegate tasks to colleagues or try alternatives. This leads us to the third step – experiment until you find what works for you. Stress will always be a part of your professional life in some form, but it is your responsibility to adopt successful coping mechanisms.
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.