How to Be a Good Manager
There’s a difference between a manager and a leader. A manager’s responsibilities might include task delegation and timecard, but a leader focuses on the growth and well-being of your team members. The best managers know how to do both roles, and can strategically incorporate the strengths of each employee to build a successful organization. According to Deborah Sweeney, vice president and general manager of business acquisitions at Deluxe Corp., good managers use emotional intelligence and soft skills to achieve this.
“Traditionally, we have been taught to believe that the person with the highest IQ in the room is the smartest,” Sweeney said. “However, science is increasingly proving that individuals with emotional intelligence and its four core skills – which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management – are actually the top performers within any company.”
How to be a good manager
1. Work with your team, not above them.
You might be accustomed to fully controlling your workload, but becoming a boss will force you to give up that control and delegate some responsibilities, said Ora Shtull, an executive coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation.
“If you don’t break the addiction to doing it all, you won’t have the capacity to step up and do more senior stuff,” she said. “Letting go involves delegating. But it’s important to note that delegating doesn’t mean deserting the team or sacrificing accountability.”
As a manager, you have a different set of responsibilities from your entry-level team members, but you should still get your hands dirty. Additionally, you should include your team in decision-making processes. According to Kimble’s Boss Barometer Report, 74% of American workers surveyed said they prefer a collaborative working culture to one where the boss makes most of the decisions. [Related article: If You Listen Up, Your Employees Step Up]
“By choosing to lead by example and demonstrating that [you] are an expert at what [you] are asking employees to do, it will often result in more respect and productivity,” said Sacha Ferrandi, founding partner of Source Capital Funding Inc. “It’s impossible to deny that the work ethic of a boss is contagious. If you work hard for them, they are more likely to return the favor and work hard for you.”
2. Get to know your employees.
Every employee has different strengths, weaknesses and ways of learning. As a manager, it’s your duty to really understand each person’s characteristics to effectively lead them, and to create a positive boss-employee relationship. This can be done by merely observing the work they produce, but asking simple questions periodically also provides details.
Harvard Business Review suggests using the question “what was the best day you’ve had at work in the last three months?” to get the employee thinking about the tasks and assignments they enjoy doing. According to their answers, you can then tailor how you delegate tasks to this employee to obtain the best possible outcome.
You could also ask the opposite: “What was the worst day you’ve had at work in the last three months?” Conversations like these help you to understand what is not working so that you can remedy the situation.
3. Create a positive and inclusive work environment.
The example you set for your office can greatly impact the success of your organization. It is important to create a positive, fun work environment that makes team members feel included and respected. A happy employee is a more productive employee. You can create a diverse and inclusive work culture by exemplifying good behavior on a daily basis, as well as implementing occasional team bonding activities.
You should frequently provide recognition for team successes (even small ones). Great leaders recognize their employees and express their gratitude whenever possible. Employees want to feel appreciated and have their work noticed. When you credit them for a job well done, it motivates them to keep working hard.
Offering praise can boost team morale and build a positive work culture. If you fail to give positive feedback and recognition, employees may think their work is going unnoticed and start to care less. In addition to daily recognition, Leah de Souza, leadership communication coach and managing director of Trainmar Consulting, recommends motivating people through team bonding and celebration.
“Set aside time for team bonding – pure fun – and team celebration – reward for a milestone team achievement,” she said. “Each of these team events are important to the cohesiveness and element of fun in the team. What is fun can differ culturally and from team to team, so make sure to get feedback on ideas.”
Ask your team what types of recognition they prefer and how often they would like team events to occur. These occasions can be related to work, volunteering or just general fun, but take precautions to ensure that each event is inclusive and appropriate for your workplace.
4. Communicate goals, expectations and feedback.
One of the most important parts of being an effective manager is successfully creating goals and communicating expectations to team members. Managers should focus on creating SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals for their teams. De Souza said the objectives that are set at an organizational level should also be translated into departmental and individual goals.
After setting goals, good managers are transparent with team members about their expectations. De Souza recommends reviewing goals on a structured basis. You can regularly check in with team members to ensure they are happy and feel challenged in their roles. Communication is not one-sided, though; you must listen as much as you talk.
Select Managers for Managing People
In a job description for a manager, core job functions, traits, and abilities are listed. With this as a guide, manager selection should focus on both the management skills and the candidates’ cultural fit. Since they are in a position to influence a large number of your employees, you want to make sure that you get both components right.
Within the cultural fit component of your interview and selection process, a candidate for a manager position must demonstrate that he or she has beliefs, values, and a work style that are congruent with those of your organization. It includes having a commitment to empowering and enabling other employees also to contribute their best work.
With all of this in mind about managers, preventing management mistakes and dumb decisions is paramount for a successful organization. Do you want to become a better manager? Here are the managing behaviors you should most want to work towards.
Listen to Your Employees
Active listening is a critical management skill. You can train managers in listening skills, but if the manager believes that listening is a way to demonstrate that he or she values people, training is usually unnecessary.
Listening is providing recognition and demonstrating your values in action. When employees feel heard out and listened to, they feel important and respected. You will have much more information that you need when you daily open the floodgates.
When employees resign, one of the top reasons for their resignation is their relationship with their manager. People often leave managers, not jobs or employers. (They also leave for reasons such as lack of opportunity, low work flexibility, inability to achieve growth and development in their jobs, and boredom, so managers are not exclusively on the hook.)
Tools to implement for better employee management
Managers tend to have to carry a lot of weight in the office. But there is nothing wrong with utilizing effective tools and software to assist you in holding up your management duties. After all, you are also only human!
1. Communication tools
Communication is the life force of any company or organization. By streamlining your communication methods, both you and the employees you manage will understand what you need from each other while focusing on other important daily tasks. Since the pandemic began, dozens of inter-office communication tools have been readily available. Use these to your advantage.
2. HRMS tools
Cultivating and analyzing a worker’s data history can be tedious when executed manually. Cut hours out of your schedule by using HR management tools that help you better understand your employee’s trajectory and manage office payroll and onboarding.
3. Performance-tracking tools
Tracking the performance of the employees you supervise often forms a large part of your role as employee manager. Use performance-tracking tools to monitor which employees are excelling versus falling behind. Allow this information to help with decisions about how to manage employees. It can guide your decisions around promotions, demotions, and other performance areas that may require your input.
4. Project management and presentation tools
Coordinating and executing workplace projects is vital for any employee management job. You need to have a fundamental understanding of who is best for what task. Having a project management tool on your side can clarify these decisions and make the organization a lot quicker and easier.