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HRDQ will be closed on Friday (5/24) and Monday (5/27) for Memorial Day
12 of The Best Professional Development Goals for Managers - HRDQ

12 of The Best Professional Development Goals for Managers

When managers set and reach professional development goals, the entire organization can benefit. Not only can it help to increase employee retention and re-energize your staff, but it can also increase efficiency and build confidence among your employees.

Continuously working to hone your skills as a manager can also have a significant impact on your career prospects and earning potential. On top of that, many of the skills that you learn to improve your professional life can also be incredibly useful in your personal life.

Do you love the idea of setting professional development goals but aren't quite sure where to begin? Are you looking to help your managerial staff set goals for the next quarter or upcoming year? You've come to the right place!

1. Master the Art of Giving (and Receiving) Constructive Feedback

You are a role model in your organization for your team, and your workers look up to you for feedback and guidance. When you learn to master the art of giving feedback, you can help your employees improve their performance, sharpen their hard and soft skills, and move up within the organization.

Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback can be difficult, but it is a skill that can be developed through learning and practice. Your ability to let your team know what they're doing right and what needs a little tweaking will help your operation run more smoothly, effectively, and productively.

An essential part of giving feedback in a well-received way has to do with being open to hearing constructive criticism from your employees or higher-ups. Though it can be hard not to take it personally when people give you feedback, your organization will benefit from an environment where workers are encouraged to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

2. Improve Your Time Management Skills (and Teach Them to Your Team)

One of the most vital personal development improvements any manager can make is managing their time better. After all, you will find that your team isn't eager to be efficient with their time when they see you complete tasks in a less-than-timely manner and meet important deadlines.

Improving Time Management Skills

Time management is essential on any given workday, but it really shines when things get down to the wire. When you have several different tasks vying for your attention or an increase in your workload, you'll be glad you took the time to develop your time management skills.

As you learn to incorporate these skills into your work, you can share what you've learned with your team. Over time, you'll likely notice that things happen faster, your workers are less stressed, and everything operates like a well-oiled machine.

3. Take a Leadership Course

Of course, you wouldn't be where you are today if you didn't have what it takes to be a leader. That being said, we all have weak points we can improve upon to bring our management abilities to the next level.

Sometimes, taking a course can be an incredibly beneficial way to work toward and reach your goals. If you're interested in developing your professional and managerial skills, you might find that learning from the experts gives you a fresh perspective and a helpful timeline to follow as you learn.

Taking a Leadership Course

Self-awareness is vital in leadership, and one crucial element you'll want to be aware of is the fact that there are a number of different leadership styles. You might find that you have a handful of leadership styles that you call upon in different scenarios. If you want to learn more about how you lead, check out our What's My Leadership Style management development tool, assessment, and workshop.

4. Increase Your Adaptability

Sometimes, it's best to set up systems and stick with them. In any career, though, there will also be instances where you need to be flexible and adaptable– where you need to refocus your company's resources or rebuild your operations. Change is inevitable, and as leaders, we must be prepared to have the flexibility necessary to turn on a dime when necessary.

An Adaptable Leader

For this reason, it's a good idea to check in frequently with your ability to adjust to change even when things are stable. Not only will it ensure you don't get bowled over when something unexpected happens, but it will also keep you on your toes and precisely the right distance from your comfort zone for optimal personal and professional growth.

5. Improve Your Active Listening Skills

As a manager, you likely have excellent communication skills that have helped you climb the career ladder. When in a leadership position, though, it's easy to focus more on the speaking part of communication and forget about the other half: listening. 

There are several vital listening skills you'll want to continue developing as a manager, and the benefits of active listening are many.

Actively Listening to Team

You'll find that active listening can help you:

  • Build trust and strong relationships among your team.
  • Solve conflicts in the office faster and prevent conflict from arising.
  • Anticipate problems before they crop up.
  • Feel confident and empowered as a leader.

If you feel like active listening is one of the weak points you need to develop or that this skill is lacking among your team, you can learn more about the barriers to active listening here.

6. Get Better at Managing Your Stress

According to numerous studies, the major source of stress in the lives of American adults is work stress. Being stressed out has many short and long-term effects on your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Managing Stress Levels

Not only is too much stress incredibly unpleasant and puts you at risk for a long list of health issues, but it also doesn't do much good for your team. You'll find that your employees will be able to keep a level head even in the most stressful moments in the workplace if you're able to stay calm and collected. On the other hand, if you're stressed out, the people that look up to you will take it as a sign that things are going off the rails.

7. Pinpoint and Work on Your Weaknesses

Even the most accomplished people in the world have room to grow, and recognizing that we all have weaknesses that we can work on is essential for professional development.

Working on Weaknesses

The first step towards this goal is to accept and understand that weaknesses don't mean you don't have strong and well-honed leadership skills. It simply means that there are some areas where you are more developed than others.

8. Improve Your Work-Life Balance

Having a job you love that gives you purpose is fantastic, but it's essential to ensure that it isn't taking over your life. To create a sustainable and long-lasting career, you'll want to build realistic and firm boundaries that separate your professional and personal life.

There are so many benefits to having a healthy work-life balance: boosting your happiness, improving your well-being, and lowering your stress levels. It will also have a significant impact on your career, helping to improve your performance as well as your satisfaction at work.

Improving Work Life Balance

If you find that your professional and personal lives are constantly bleeding into one another, this might be an excellent professional development goal for you to work on.

You can begin by becoming self-aware of when you are dealing with personal issues at work and vice versa.

Some people find it essential to have a hard and fast rule where they don't deal with any work concerns outside of their eight-hour workday. Depending on your role and industry, this might be more or less possible. Either way, creating some separation between these equally important aspects of life can help you feel better at work and home.

9. Reduce Micromanaging and Increase Delegation

It's often said that if you want something done well, you should do it yourself. Managers are all too aware of this maxim, as it can be frustrating to hand out tasks only to find that they aren't completed promptly or done incorrectly.

The reality is, though, that you can't do everything yourself. If you are struggling to relinquish control to your employees and feel the need to watch their every move, the professional development goal of reducing micromanaging and increasing delegation might be the perfect place for you to set your sights.

Manager Delegating Tasks

Micromanaging can have many negative consequences in the workplace, including:

  • Leaving employees annoyed and resentful.
  • Leads to burnout in both managers and workers.
  • Reduces the trust employees have in leadership.
  • Leaves managers less able to keep their eye on the bigger picture.
  • Boosts the turnover rate of employees.

Obviously, none of these are desirable in your workplace. Delegation, on the other hand, has a lot of positive benefits that can help your organization grow and thrive. They include:

  • Allowing managers to focus on higher-level tasks.
  • Improving productivity, time management, and efficiency.
  • Building trust between teams and managers.
  • Improves communication.
  • Fosters confidence in the abilities of employees.

Learning to delegate can feel frustrating and stressful, but over time you'll find that workflow in the office is much smoother while morale is at an all-time high.

10. Become a Better Coach to Your Team

You've accomplished a lot in your professional career, and you're in a position where you can share what you've learned with your employees. They look up to you for both direction and guidance, and developing your skills as a coach and mentor can positively affect the individuals in your office and the organization as a whole.

This is a win-win situation. Not only do your workers get the opportunity to learn from your experience and develop their skills, but it also helps you become self-aware of your experience and skills while also building your confidence.

Manager Coaching Team

One of the ways that you can meet this goal is to ensure your employees know you are available for questions, concerns, or problems they have. Let them know that you are there to help if they are struggling with specific skills or wondering about the potential career trajectories they could choose starting from their current position.

11. Build Time in Your Schedule for Self-Care

This might not seem like a professional development goal, but it most certainly is. If you want to be the best manager you can be, you must pay attention to your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Taking a Self Care Break

Do you feel like you prioritize work over taking care of yourself? If so, this is a goal you'll want to incorporate into your professional development roadmap.

12. Develop Soft Skills

You've already proven that you have the hard and technical skills necessary to get to a leadership position in your organization. And, most likely, you have a good stack of soft skills that have helped you along the way.

Usually, people will be more comfortable with some soft skills than others.

Developing Soft Skills

A few of the essential soft skills for managers include:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Decision-making
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Delegation
  • Positivity and optimism
  • Attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Self-motivation

Unless you are a true master of soft skills, you'll likely look at this list and see several skills that are strong suits of yours in addition to a few places where you could improve.

HRDQ Is Your Go-To Resource For Leadership and Management Skills

When you read through our list of the best professional development goals for managers, it might be tempting to lump all of them onto your plate all at once. In reality, it's best to select one or two to work on at a time. You'll likely find that many of these leadership skills are interconnected and that it becomes easier to improve your weak points over time.

Manager of a Team

At HRDQ, we have a complete catalog of training, assessments, and workshops to help you reach your professional development goals and become the best manager you can be. If you oversee a managerial staff, our products can also help your employees continue to grow and improve as their relationship with your organization deepens over time.

Are you looking for the best of the best when it comes to leadership training and assessments? If so, be sure to check out our online assessment center.

Do you have any questions or concerns about these professional development goals for managers, our online assessments, or anything similar? If so, be sure to leave a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We always make sure to reply to every comment and question we receive, and we'd love to be of assistance however we can!

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.