Self-management is not all that different from traditional management. In a professional context, a manager is accountable for the performance of a team. He or she must assign roles and responsibilities and develop processes that enable the team to be productive, efficient, and effective. To be an effective manager requires a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each member of the team.
Self-management is a similar concept, but instead of managing a team, an individual is managing themselves. The goal? To maximize their own potential and optimize their own performance. In this article, we’ll explore self-management as a key to success at work, but these ideas can also apply personally.
What is Self Management?
What is self-management? The definition of self-management refers to your ability to manage your own motivations, fears, strengths, and weaknesses to do your job to the best of your ability. Self-management skills reflect your ability to regulate your actions, feelings, and thoughts. It’s a simple concept to understand, but often harder to apply in real life.
Why Is Self Management Important?
Why is self-management important? Many jobs require a complex mix of problem solving, analytical, and communication skills. Most organizations and managers understand that nobody is perfect. However, someone with underdeveloped self-management skills, – who is unaware of their skills and tendencies – is likely to perform far below their own potential.
What do we mean? Imagine a talented data analyst early in their career who gets very nervous when asked to speak in front of a group. If this person lacks self-management skills, they might simply avoid speaking up, even though they have important ideas to contribute. When they are called on, perhaps they answer quietly and quickly without fully explaining themselves. Effective self-management would involve recognizing this anxiety, finding ways to combat it, and growing in confidence and communication skills.
Or, imagine a customer service employee who generally performs quite well. They know the answers to almost any question and can effectively solve almost any problem. But when a customer starts to act unreasonably or rudely, they are prone to getting angry quickly. This leads to negative feedback and negative consequences for the company and brand. Without effective self-management, the employee might not realize they are even behaving this way.
Self Management Skills
Self-management skills run the gamut. Effect self-management tends to include:
- Introspection – the ability to understand what motivates you and what you fear, and to understand your own personality.
- Objectivity – the ability to observe and assess your behavior and performance from an objective standpoint, and to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
- Impulse Control – the ability to assess situations, think things through rationally, and not react out of an emotional state.
- Time Management – so you can prioritize tasks, avoid procrastination, and get things done on time.
- Stress Management Skills – the ability to continuously work on improving your ability to remain calm and collected during stressful situations or in the face of difficult problems.
Self-management could include many other concepts too, from flexibility to problem solving to reliability. Again, in a sense, self-management skills are just like regular management skills. But instead of getting the most out of a team you are managing, you are getting the most out of yourself.
Self Management Strategies
When discussing self-management as a concept or the skills it involves, it can be helpful to compare it to regular management. But self-management strategies are a distinct set of choices that help you as an individual better understand yourself and how you might be able to perform at your best. Here are some effective self-management strategies:
- Set personal performance goals. This will allow you to take stock of what you might be capable of achieving at work and force you to think about any skill or behavior gaps that might be holding you back.
- Prioritize your wellbeing. In general, take care of yourself with regards to nutrition, sleep, and general wellness. Many people are irritable or lack focus when they are tired, hungry, or sick. Taking care of your wellbeing is a consistently effective self-management strategy.
- Practice patience. This will give you the space to think about what you are doing and what your natural inclinations are, and then to decide how to “self-manage” yourself in a different direction.
- Mitigate weaknesses. Identify your weaknesses and find ways to address them. If you are not as good at analytics as you want to be or are often late to work, join an online data analysis course or commit yourself to using an alarm and arriving 20 minutes early to work for the next month.
- Lean into your strengths. If you reflect on your skill set and find that you are particularly good at X or Y, try to take on projects or roles that showcase and leverage these strengths. Self-management is not just about managing or improving upon the things you don’t do well. It’s also about getting the most out of the positive skills that differentiate you in the workplace.
Strong self-management skills are undoubtedly a crucial part of being effective at work (and personally). If you manage a team, you might put person X in a particular role because you know he’s great at analysis. You might put person Y in a role because, although she’s not very comfortable leading a sub-group, you know she needs to build this skill and must get the right type of practice in a low-risk environment. Likewise, reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses and putting yourself in a position to leverage your strengths while also building the skills you lack is what self-management is all about.
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