What Makes a Good Manager?
Managers have a responsibility to not only uphold organizational policy and procedures, but also to create a workplace environment that is positive, and allows employees to do their best work.
While your managerial style will vary depending on the nature of your work and the organization, and on your personality and the personalities of your team members, there are a few consistent principles that set good managers apart.
So what can you do to be a good manager? Here are ten things to start with.
Set Smart Goals
Set goals for your team that align with individuals’ jobs, and overall company objectives. Don’t just set vague resolutions like “improve sales.” Make sure your goals are actionable by using the SMART framework. Goals should be:
- Specific (they can be explained in more than just vague terms)
- Measurable (you have quantifiable metrics to determine whether or not you’re meeting the goal)
- Attainable (they are realistic within your given timeframe and budget)
- Relevant (they fit into your employees’ skill sets, and benefit the company at large)
- Time-based (there are well-defined target dates and timeframes for goal milestones)
Have a Clear Vision
As a manager, it’s your job to stay mindful of the bigger picture. Don’t get too far into the weeds with day-to-day minutiae. The better you understand the overarching vision for your department, the better you’ll be able to communicate that vision to your team, and delegate tasks in a way that supports that vision. This will help you identify not only what needs to be accomplished – but why.
Be available to all your employees. An open door policy is key. If you’re frequently sequestered behind closed doors or take days to respond to emails and requests, your employees may rightfully begin to wonder if you’re hiding something from them.
Being an approachable manager doesn’t mean that you have to constantly be chatting with your employees, but it does mean that you need to be responsive when your employees have questions, and be open to receiving feedback. Showing your employees that you are willing and able to assist when needed fosters a sense of trust and camaraderie that is good for both business and culture.
Set Clear Expectations
Ensure that you and your employees are on the same page when it comes to performance expectations, and specific job descriptions. You can’t manage effectively if you can’t trust your employees to know what to do on a day-to-day basis.
When employees clearly understand what is expected of them, they’re better able to work independently, which leaves you more time to focus on the overall needs of the organization or your department.
Provide Consistent Feedback
If you see something that needs to change, whether that’s a work process or an individual employee’s performance, address it immediately. It’s very important to address any challenges or shortcomings as they come up, so that you can fix the issue before it becomes ingrained, or starts to affect other areas and employees.
Saving all constructive feedback for a quarterly or annual performance review will only result in the employee feeling blindsided, or wondering why issues weren’t brought up when they could have been more easily fixed. Your employees can’t improve their performance if you don’t let them know where things are going wrong.
Most employees have ambitions and career goals. As manager, it’s your responsibility to help each member of your team develop their skills and progress in their careers. Not only will this help employees become better at their jobs within your team, it will also contribute greatly to overall morale and employee retention, which is great news for your company’s culture and bottom line.
Recognize Employees’ Work
An ideal boss always remembers to acknowledge and recognize the input of team members. Positive feedback and recognition doesn’t have to only come at the end of a lengthy project. If you see an employee doing a great job on a small task, don’t hesitate to point it out.
Conversely, don’t take credit for things you did not do. Even if you are recognized for leading a large initiative, don’t forget to call attention to the hard work of individual employees who helped bring it all together. Rewarding good performance begets better performance overall.
If you want to win your employees’ respect, you have to respect them. Showing your employees that you appreciate them, and that you’re willing to listen to, and take appropriate action on, any concerns that they might have in the workplace, shows that you respect and value them not only as workers but as human beings.
Many of the points above come down to employee respect. Make time for your employees, provide feedback in a timely manner, and offer recognition when it is warranted.
Similar to coaching and respecting employees, as manager you are in a position to empower your employees to do great work. Enabling your employees with the tools and resources that they need to be effective is a key part of being a good manager.
Once you’ve provided the proper training, however, you also need to know when to step back. For your team to be productive, employees need to be able to work independently. Allowing your employees the flexibility and space to come up with their own solutions is a great way to boost morale, and it can also lead to process improvements that you may not have considered from your own point of view.
Do not micromanage
Micromanaging doesn’t do anyone any favours. For you as a manager, it’s extremely time consuming to watch your employees’ every move. For employees, having a supervisor breathing down their necks at every turn is stressful and demoralizing.
There will be key instances where you need to micromanage – for example, if an employee is under performance review and you’re working closely with that employee to improve performance or job deadlines. But when it’s not called for, micromanaging hurts everyone. Giving your employees a measure of autonomy and independence shows that you trust them, and is a much better way to help employees develop their skills.
Every employee brings something of value to the table. We can all learn from each other, regardless of our positions within a company. Good managers are leaders – not dictators. Working for a good manager should be a generally positive and motivating experience. Practicing good management goes a long way toward improving workplace culture, productivity, and employee retention.
Looking for extra tips or training for yourself or your management team? Contact Fluent Motion for help with training, policy development, and problem solving.