Want To Become A Better Manager?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / ra2studio

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / ra2studio

Being a manager is not easy because it usually involves both tasks and people. The latter are considered the greater challenge for managers because too often organizations view employees in much the same way as material resources—a commodity. Managing people is not a talent many inherit, nor is it learned overnight. While experience may be the best teacher, the most effective and dynamic managers are those who can switch their mindset with the same facility as switching gears. 

Managers confront challenges daily that force them to focus on goals and how to achieve them. No two challenges are alike, so managers must be able to adapt to various approaches. J. Gosling and H. Mintzberg have identified five different mindsets that managers must use if they want to manage employees and teams effectively:

  • Reflective
  • Analytic
  • Collaborative
  • Active
  • Contextual.


The reflective mindset deals with managing one’s own ego. “Reflective” as an adjective comes from the Latin word reflectere, which literally means “to turn back.” While conducting their daily routine, managers need to make time to stop, take a breath, and reflect. Events can only become experiences if they are processed and reflected upon, so managers must take the time to ensure they gain experience and not simply engage in events. For managers to be most effective, they need to initially focus their attention first internally, and later externally. 


With the analytic mindset, managers examine the management of the organization. No organization exists without analysis because this structure is analytic by nature. Analysis helps managers separate complex situations to identify the important aspects, while filtering out the unimportant ones. Literally, “analysis” means to “let loose.” However, the purpose of analysis is not to simplify complex decisions, but to retain the ability to act because of better knowledge of the situation. Therefore, improved analysis provides managers an opportunity to understand what is driving their efforts. To conduct an effective analysis, one needs to go beyond the conventional approach and learn to appreciate how analysis works and what effect it has on the organization (Gosling and Mintzberg). 


In managing relationships, managers need to shift into a collaborative mindset. Gosling and Mintzberg argue that Western managers often have a limited perspective. Too often, they regard employees as independent actors, or as assets that can be shifted and redistributed as needed. In reality, the primary goal should be to manage relationships between people who work in teams and projects, sometimes within the same department or even across departments. This is much different than specifically managing individuals or employees. Notably, the collaborative mindset calls for implementing an engaging intrapersonal management style. For managers to be more engaging, M. Armstrong suggests they need to spend more time listening than talking. With this approach, managers interact with employees and do not remain isolated in their respective roles. The collaborative manager is an insider who gets involved and manages holistically. For managers to adapt to such a mindset, they need to become involved without being the focus of attention. Implementing the collaborative mindset means transferring the responsibility and the initiative to employees; it also means that employees have the power over their work styles and task management. 


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