What I Learned From My Summer Internship: Management at its Finest

By Rebecca David

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Great managers make you think

 

This summer, I had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best managers I’ve ever met as part of a management trainee program.  Through shadowing and working alongside these managers, I’ve learned a few important concepts to great management.

Employee relationships are important

A great manager cares about their employees.  While maintaining professionalism, a successful manager fosters an environment in which employees can build relationships with one another and develop trust and mutual respect.  By showing they care about individuals (as opposed to simply the numbers and work completed by the end of the day), managers can create a workplace that promotes communication and innovation while avoiding unnecessary stress.

Feedback

Feedback is an important job characteristic that is too often overlooked in the working world, commonly left to quarterly or yearly performance appraisals and not discussed on a regular basis.  Great managers who not only give regular feedback, but also create an environment in which feedback among team members is encouraged and not looked at with a sense of dread.  Objective, regular feedback from managers and among team members helps create an environment in which employees are constantly working to improve and succeed.  Team members can better understand their strengths and how to utilize them, while also understanding their weaknesses and work to improve them.

 

There is a common saying that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, and 90% of what we do or discover.  Whether this saying is statistically true of not, I’ve learned that when I realize something on my own, such as something I need to improve on or an issue I need to resolve, I am more motivated to act upon it than when someone tells me what I need to do.  From this, we can see that great managers must understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses and then help their employees realize and develop them.  While this may take extra time, great managers who invest in their employees see the long-term results of challenging employees to think for themselves.  They provide different perspectives, help create action plans towards meeting these goals, give encouragement, and challenge employees to step out of their comfort zone.

Great managers look at the short and long-term goals

Balancing short and long-term goals is essential to succeeding in the business world.  Great managers need to play an active role in setting these goals and making sure their employees are on board.  It is the manager’s primary role to see that their team is headed toward success and on track with business goals.  Without specific and clear short-term goals focused on ultimately reaching long-term goals, teams will lack the motivation and direction to truly succeed.

Are all of these skills needed to be a successful manager? Possibly not.  Success is a subjective term and everyone has their own view of what it takes to be an effective manager.  I could go on and on about great management skills I’ve seen and there are countless textbooks and articles that will tell you a lot more about effective management than I will ever know.  However, I do know that these skills I experienced first-hand from my own managers had a major impact on my personal growth in the business setting.

 

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