Most of us don’t start at the top, so most of us know what it’s like to have a subpar manager. Most of us know that feeling of dread each time you clock in or every time they walk by your office. Maybe they’re mean and harsh. Maybe they’re unorganized and lazy. Maybe they have a power complex. It might not even be that extreme; they might just not understand what it means to be a good manager. It doesn’t matter why – if they’re not good they’re not good.
So you’re a manager now. Have you ever thought about how your employees view you or how they view their place in the company? That’s a big hallmark of a good manager; you should always be concerned with how your employees feel. Yes, quotas are quotas and deadlines are deadlines, but people aren’t numbers and dates. They have things they need in order to be their best selves at work – things like appreciation and encouragement. Have you ever heard of the saying “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? Impersonal, authoritarian management styles are about as effective as authoritarian parenting styles – you’re going to create stressed, unmotivated people who are looking to leave ASAP.
What Makes a Good Manager?
So what makes someone a good manager? What ideals and values can help you motivate your workforce and create loyal and happy employees? Here are 10 ideas to think about for tomorrow morning when you head to work:
1. Lead by example: You should be the hardest working person in your office. Lead with work ethic and integrity and your employees will follow.
2. Acknowledge your employees’ achievements: Whether it’s a sales goal award like a business card holder for a desk, or a catered lunch the first Friday of each month, employees who are consistently reminded you see them and appreciate them are happier, work harder, and are more loyal.
3. Build a level of trust: Make an effort to take an interest in your employees. Was someone out sick? Give them a call to check on them. Has someone been injured outside of work? Let them go early on a slow day. There are small actions you can take that build trust and friendliness without compromising professionalism.
4. Don’t micromanage: If you’re in management, chances are you’re a pretty organized and particular person to have gotten into this position. It’s easy to get into the bad habit of nitpicking employee’s work. But everyone does things differently, and just because they aren’t using the same processes you do, this is one context where the ends always justify the means (so long as everything’s above board). If they’re productive and accurate at their work, try to focus on the big stuff and not micromanage; it makes people feel like their skills aren’t respected.
5. Make and communicate clear decisions: It’s hard for a project to run smoothly if everyone isn’t clear on their role or everyone isn’t clear on the goals. When you hand a decision down or assign a new task, be clear about your expectations and be welcoming to any questions your employees may have.
6. Help your employees move forward: Managers who view their employees as possible competition or who discourage upward momentum aren’t good managers. If you have an employee who is particularly motivated or who is asking for more responsibility, encourage them! We all want to move up in life – you did, and you should encourage your employees to as well.
7. Be consistent: You should have a certain set of processes and values that define your management style. And while you should remain flexible and open to adjustments, you should be consistent with your management and decision-making styles. Employees who know what to expect stress less and remain better-focused.
8. Use data-driven decision making: Don’t make decisions based off emotions, biases, your gut, etc. Decisions should be made on tangible logic and available data. It’s a more numbers-based version of “past behavior predicts future behavior,” and you can apply it to people as well as processes.
9. Listen to your employees: Unless you’re in the middle of a presentation, good managers should listen more than they speak. Your employees should be comfortable coming to you with questions, concerns and suggestions. And you should be actively listening – ask your employees questions that are open-ended so you can get a good look at their point of view.
10. Improve on your weaknesses: We want our employees to strive to be better, but are we also striving to be better? Think about what your weaknesses may be. Even better, turn the tables on “quarterly reviews” and have your employees review you. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article. Keep it going!