In any firm, practice managers are vital to ensuring business success. Without them, deadlines may not be met, quality may suffer, and business growth may slow down. Yet very few of them come to this role as experienced leaders who are excellent at walking a tightrope as they attempt to balance many plates of various responsibilities and points of view across the organisation.
It takes time to grow into this role and become competent at all that’s involved, but you can start by following some simple advice presented here:
1. Build strong connections 👥
One of the most crucial characteristics of a competent Practice Manager is their ability to assemble a fantastic team (you can read about “7 things you need to do to create a top team” here) and foster a team environment. To do this, it’s critical to be a team player skilled at active listening, facilitation and collaboration while not shying away from conflict or having difficult conversations when needed.
Most Practice Managers I know are born ‘fixers’, so they are great at managing multiple tasks, solving problems, and attending to their team’s needs all at once but often struggle with delegating work. If you fall into this category, you need to learn to delegate. Think about the tasks at hand and give your team the opportunity and freedom to complete them on their own. While doing so, learn about their needs and desires. Spend some time getting to know each individual, both personally and professionally. Understand their professional aspirations, but also their hobbies and interests outside of work.
Managers must show empathy when leading in this new climate if they want to succeed. A manager who genuinely cares about their team’s career development will pay attention to their growth rather than focusing merely on deliverables. Good managers take the time to talk to their direct reports about their long-term career goals and advise them on possible career pathways inside (and possibly outside) the company.
Did you know that only 47% of managers are ready for the changing nature of management? Future managers who create relationships with their staff that are fundamentally different from the ones they currently have will be the most successful.
Investing time and energy into building strong connections with your team will pay dividends! Your team is the reflection of your work.
2. Work on yourself 🧐
Don’t overlook yourself when working on your team. Examine your areas of weakness and make a daily effort to work on these. If you are not willing to evolve and change yourself, you can’t expect it from others. Recognising your limitations and developing an action plan to help take steps towards improving, whether from a personal or professional perspective, will be crucial in your professional life.
If you don’t know where to begin, perhaps consider asking a friend or mentor you trust for advice or look at what you might have done in the past that didn’t work and try to understand why that was.
But working on yourself doesn’t have to be just about work; it shouldn’t be! You must put both your physical and mental health first. Your health should always be your main priority; set boundaries, take frequent breaks, and recharge when you can. Short pauses will improve your concentration and provide the energy you need to complete your tasks successfully. By doing this, you can avoid burnout, which in the managerial role has increased from 28% to 35% in a year (2020/21), according to a recent Gallup report. Everything will fall into place if you’re healthy and happy.
Another key point when thinking of improving yourself is working on your skill sets. Adding tools to your toolbox will help you become more competent, enhancing the work output for the entire organisation. Consider what course to take next. Should it be related to accounting, performance management, cyber security, project management, creation of lean processes, conflict resolution, or something completely different?
Remember that your skills directly impact your team and the organisation.
3. Have a track to run on 📊
Excellent planning often means the difference between success and failure. So, as a Practice Manager, make sure you take all steps feasible to create the conditions for success.
A strong business plan serves as a roadmap for a profitable enterprise. It summarises the vision for the business and elaborates on strategic objectives, underpins marketing and sales strategies, provides the groundwork for efficient operations, and maybe—just maybe—convinces an investor to support your company.
Your business plan serves as a manual for executives to follow and allows you to know exactly what to do and when. It should act as your constant reference point since it’s your responsibility to ensure the plan is realised.
Once the business plan is in place, you need a structure to keep you and the business on track! This could include:
- Annual business planning meeting To update your business plan (including longer-term and short-term vision), cash flow forecasts, budgets and to set your business goals for the year.
- Quarterly business reviews To reflect on what was achieved in the last quarter and set goals for the next.
- Monthly meetings with the business owners To keep you (the Practice Manager) and the business owners on the ‘same page’ and allow you to present a united front.
- Weekly management meetings To ensure everything runs smoothly, identify and solve challenges, and hold everyone accountable for the agreed goals.
- Daily planning As a Practice Manager, you will constantly be pulled in different directions. Daily planning is critical to ensuring that you remain focused on the ‘real’ priorities and don’t get distracted. As part of your planning, we also advocate undertaking capacity calculations on an annual basis and having a structure for your working week. You can read more about these in Feel like there isn’t enough time: Part 1 and Part 2
Of course, there will be other meetings that you will hold too e.g. team meetings, project meetings, team updates, client case meetings or work in progress meetings but that is a different subject altogether.
4. Serve as a role model 🧘
Act the way you want your team to behave. Lead by example regardless of what others may be doing. Your team and your boss will take note of your tenacity and determination.
Enthusiasm is one of the most crucial traits of a good manager. Maintaining a positive attitude in the office even when you are having a difficult day will help to keep your team on track.
Along with getting the tasks done, influential role models emphasise helping the individuals they work with grow. Holding frequent one-on-one sessions with team members and encouraging them to find solutions to problems rather than giving them the answer will build the team’s capacity and create a culture of nurturing new leaders.
5. Know when to say ‘no’ 🙅
Learning to say ‘no’ may be one of the biggest challenges you will need to overcome. It’s your responsibility to identify and verbalise when the requests being made are inappropriate, unrealistic or unachievable or if the firm doesn’t have the capacity to meet the goals being set. Having good boundaries and being able to challenge the status quo is your responsibility, so don’t shy away from it if you want to run a successful business and foster a team environment.
Managers who know when to say ‘no’ are always respected by others, even if it means that they don’t get what they want. Of course, your ‘nos’ must always be backed by logical arguments and factual information. Having agreed goals (per the business plan) and capacity calculations can benefit such situations.
Managing people and implementing projects on time and within budget are business skills that any competent Practice Manager should have nailed. By staying organised, honing your skills, working on your self-awareness, continuing your education, and focusing on personal development, you can gain the skills needed to succeed as a manager and guide your team and organisation to success. 🙌
If you are a member of our Master Practitioners Club, here are some of the relevant resources that you have access to:
- How to succeed in the role of a Practice Manager & beyond
- Improving Your Execution Skills with Brett Davidson
- How To Conduct A Quarterly Business Review by Brett Davidson
- Personal Effectiveness Tutorials by FP Advance
- Effective Leadership
- How to nurture & maintain a great team
- How to engage your team in transforming your business
- The grass is greener where you water it: growing & nurturing a top team with Anna Butcher
- Decision making & how to get your ideas across
- Effective communication with Emma Browning
- Why a Thinking Environment? with Rebecca Timmins
- Listening as a Superpower – Taming the Advice Beast Within! with Rebecca Timmins
- The Development Process with Arah Perrett
- Master Practitioners Organiser
- Business Scorecard
- Planning templates
- Clarity Questions for Master Practitioners
- About Me
- Communication Style Self-Assessment
- Skills Matrix>
- Time to Think Meeting Agenda & Resources
- Appraisals templates
- Training & Development templates
If you are not a member already why not consider joining us now !