Our recent post on ‘fatal flaws of bad managers’certainly seems to have touched a nerve, with lots of you sharing experiences good and bad, as well as positive advice about what makes for a good manager. So with thanks and credit to everyone who’s shared their thoughts, here are some of your top tips for what makes a good manager.
Show Willing: Don’t ask or expect your people to do something you wouldn’t willingly do yourself. This might mean rolling your sleeves up and getting actively involved in completing tasks when there’s a deadline looming. Or, if you’re expecting your team to work late, sticking around yourself to provide regular supplies of coffee and encouragement. One reader cited the example of a manager who allowed the entire team to take the period between Christmas and New Year off, stepping in to cover the office himself.
Create a Positive Environment: Praise people regularly, for the small milestones as well as for the big achievements. If they make mistakes, help them learn from them and move on, rather than bawling them out. If people can see their efforts are appreciated, they are much more likely to go the extra mile for you. As Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
Look at Yourself in the Mirror: Lack of self awareness is often behind poor management performance – so make sure you take a regular look at your reflection. Are you aware of the impact you have on others? Do they find you approachable – or difficult to deal with? Are you empowering your team or driving them mad by constantly looking over their shoulder? Think carefully about the way you lead and communicate, seek feedback and identify areas where you may need to adjust your approach.
Show Genuine Interest in your Team: In a busy environment, it can be a challenge to get quality one-to-one time with your team. Regular personal interaction between managers and their people is, however, key to creating good performance and building an engaged and committed team. Make the effort to find out what makes your people tick, where they need your support and what they’d like to do more of. Remember, as some of our contributors put it, to tailor your approach to different people and recognise you operate in a living system.
Use the Skills at your Disposal: It’s surprising how many managers fail to utilise the skills – and often even completely ignore the advice – of the talented people in their teams. Often, it’s because they don’t actually know what their people are capable of. Sometimes, it’s because they feel threatened by people whose expertise in a certain area is greater than their own. Make sure you are clear about what your people can do and that you are utilising their skills and talents to the full.
Learn how to communicate: It’s not always easy to set the right expectations, or communicate openly and honestly with those that work for you, especially when you are not always in control of what’s going on at work. The most important things seem to be not to over promise, to keep your communications consistent so that you are not sending out mixed messages, and not to adopt an ostrich approach when things aren’t going well. Far better to step up to any issues straight away, rather than allowing them to fester.
Develop your Management Competence: People are often catapulted into management roles because of their technical competence rather than their ability to lead people effectively. Companies often expect them to just ‘get on with it’ and offer very little in the way of support or training. Whether you’re a new manager or an experienced one, be honest with yourself about your level of competency in key management skills. Identify areas where you need to develop and seek out creative and cost-effective ways of building your skill set.
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