What Makes a Good Manager - Tips - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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how to be a good manager

What Makes a Good Manager – Tips

If you want to be a great manager, it’s critical to be a leader and not a follower. A good manager leads by example instead of telling people how to act. Situational leadership has rapidly replaced leadership best practices in today’s fast-moving and agile business environment. The premise of the situational approach to leadership was developed by Hersey and Blanchard in 1969. Each activity results in contributing to the solutions of management problems. Managers must adapt their leadership styles based on the groups of people whom they’re leading, and this involves learning about the interpersonal relationships of the group, characteristics of the team, the group’s environment, any applicable physical and cultural restraints and the attitudes and values of the team. Showing this kind of interest in your team helps to make you a leader and not just a manager.

Impact of Being a Good Manager

The economic impact of effective managers is tremendous. A good manager identifies goals and constraints, understands and uses incentives and recognises the relative values of time and money. Managers on the front line can have the greatest impact on your company’s performance across multiple performance benchmarks. Companies with strong manager training programs earn 6 percent more profits than those without any programs.

A good manager uses ‘soft’ people skills to generate profits, streamline operations, attract and retain talent and develop creative business ideas. One approach that many managers favour is to surround themselves with top talent and people who are smarter than they are. A good manager then turns people with raw talent into leaders who align their job performances with the company’s culture and core values. Managers follow the basic business model that multiplies results by delegating tasks to qualified surrogates to increase income and job results exponentially. A great manager is a great ‘multiplier.’

What’s Wrong with 51 Percent?

Some managers target 51 percent as the benchmark for success. For example, getting a 51-percent approval rating from team members and senior management is the minimum goal. Another approach is making critical business decisions based on 51-percent certainty. A good manager curates the issues by increasing the odds of success. Playing the odds is risky, but gaming the odds is good management.

10 Practical tips on how to be a Good Manager

Regardless of industry or a given company’s talent pool, there are universal steps that you can take that will make you more effective as a manager.

These include the following 10 tips:

1. A Good Manager Embraces Excellence

Managers face difficult decisions daily, but the decision to embrace excellence is an easy one to make. Keeping the best talent is hard because employees no longer spend their whole careers at one company. A better manager who embraces a value-based mindset empowers his or her team members and encourages creative problem-solving skills. Employees show greater loyalty when they’re stimulated to achieve great things and to implement new ideas. Managers can encourage excellence by developing an internal framework of performance standards that apply to people, processes, customers, partnerships and team dynamics.

2. A Good Manager Motivates Staff with Rewards, Recognition and Cultural Imperatives

Managers are on the front-line in most critical business-related processes, and motivating your team ranks as the second most powerful way to accomplish work goals. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that employee satisfaction is directly linked to motivation.  It’s critical to create a work environment that supports your company’s culture and goals.

Sharing information, such provide verbal feedback on job performance, recognise employee accomplishments and reward people for outstanding efforts. If possible, turn your employees into end-users by getting them to try company products. Best practices for motivating your team members include:

  • Promoting people who demonstrate essential skills
  • Rewarding individual and team accomplishments
  • Refusing to tolerate poor performances or staff members who don’t use their full potential
  • Keeping your commitments
  • Communicating regularly
  • Showing people how to be a leader instead of telling them
  • Exhibiting a holistic interest in each employee
  • Treating everyone with basic respect
  • Finding and recommending educational and training programs for advancement


3. Demonstrate Curiosity to Be a Good Manager

Demonstrating a sense of intellectual curiosity drives learning, creative thinking and collaboration. Managers often pull the plug on unworkable ideas without fully understanding them or gaining any practical benefits from the proposals. Being naturally curious can defuse tense situations and encourage team members to think about their ideas more fully and follow them to their logical conclusions. Using curiosity, you can ask questions about anything without offending people. Curiosity naturally segues into amusement when it proves an idea is silly or unworkable. Genuine curiosity can enable managers to discover creative solutions to problems, melt resistance, reframe problems by re-examining the underlying questions and alleviate workday boredom. When you show curiosity about another person or his or her ideas, you empower and engage him or her. Of course, the greatest benefit of curiosity is that no innovations are ever made unless someone questions the status quo.

Using curiosity as a routine tool in your management arsenal, you’ll be better positioned to embrace serendipity and identify and grab time-sensitive business opportunities. When you hear about a new trend or process, curiosity can help you answer the questions of how to use that information to the company’s advantage.

4. Show Empathy

A better manager needs real empathy, or the ability to feel what others feel. Empathy can defuse tense situations and foster better understanding in today’s multicultural workplaces. Managers might deal with on-premises cultural misunderstandings and/or miscommunications with remotely based team members. Showing empathy helps managers become more persuasive. If you accept and understand other people’s feelings, they’re more likely to listen to what you say with empathy. If your team members learn to show empathy, they can make you look 51 percent smarter.

5. Communicate Well Across Channels

Communications skills are critical if you want to become a better manager, but today’s digital processes have altered how people communicate. It’s essential to develop strong verbal skills, use digital communications tools and learn how to tell appealing stories. Great managers also communicate effectively in social media forums, group meetings, written communications and even text messages and Tweets. Telling stories and using data to back up the insights are great ways to communicate with your team members.

An innovative tool for managers and teams to use for communication is the ‘Slack’ application.  This tool has enjoyed exponential growth over the last year, and more than a million people now use the app’s Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, function that can turn a large company into a chat room. As a manager, you would function as the team’s administrator and have access to all the settings for the app. You can restrict messages and manage group communications. Your team members can get important messages on their phones without needing to access their computers or leave their browsers open and create security risks.

6. Backing Decisions with the right manager tools

Data-driven decision management is increasingly common in today’s business operations. Vast resources are available through third-party databases and ERP software that automates data collection. Employees and customers often want quick responses and agile decisions, which require improved coordination. The classic business model favoured the CYA (Cover Your Ass) approach in the past, and managers routinely focused more on covering their backsides than owning their decisions. However, that antiquated model only enjoys limited success today based on how willing managers are to throw other people under the bus.

Today’s CYA strategy of choice is backing your decisions with verifiable data. This governance model has many inbuilt advantages that include:

  • Providing visibility and clarity for company stakeholders
  • Justifying unpopular decisions
  • Creating auditable trails when decisions involve mandatory regulations and practices
  • Garnering insights from behaviour modelling
  • Leaving room for data interpretation based on context and other variables
  • Correlating cause-and-effect relationships to guide decisions
  • Allowing managerial leeway to favour subjective assessments of employee potential


7. Push Boundaries

Although it’s important to show leadership, empathy and respect to each employee, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to push boundaries and take calculated risks. If you’re too easy-going, your staff members have no reason to push their own boundaries and improve their job performances. Today’s business trends embrace agile technologies, globalisation and creative solutions, and achieving these benchmarks requires managers who can take charge, adapt to change and encourage their team members to go beyond expected performance standards. Managers who push boundaries in constructive ways encourage those around them to perform at the highest levels. When you become a real game-changer, the old rules don’t apply. As the common saying goes, winners define how history views them by changing the evaluation standards.

8. Become a Thought Leader

Thought leaders can change the world, and great managers can build their personal brand and motivate their teams by demonstrating thought leadership. You can become a thought leader by persuading people to change their opinions, attitudes, work habits and even personal characteristics such as adopting healthier diets and exercise. You can accomplish these goals through personal communications, posting content on social media and in industry trade journals, attending conferences and celebrating corporate milestones and the personal accomplishments of your team members.

Thought leaders set priorities, provide visionary ideas, look at processes in new ways and find ways to propel growth and innovation even when markets are sluggish. As a manager and thought leader, you must be willing to challenge the status quo, find new ways to enhance business processes and work on developing better client relationships. When you demonstrate thought leadership, you encourage your employees to develop similar skills and attitudes.

9. Use Social Media

Great managers get to know their team members holistically, and social media provide the opportunities to get a well-rounded picture of each employee. A 2015 Pew Research study found that the Millennial Generation now makes up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce, and the results are even higher in other countries. 80 percent of global companies have formal social media policies. Managers can get great insights through social-sharing posts, publicise information that recognises team and individual accomplishments, learn about competitor and industry trends and access learning and training opportunities for team members. Great managers can encourage business transparency with open communication policies and widen recruitment efforts, promote the company’s brand with employees’ peer groups, post news and promote diversity.

10. Know When to Breathe

Managers face many daily demands on their time and increasingly detail-oriented tasks, so many supervisors forget to step back, breathe and look at the big picture. Working continuously to meet deadlines and manage detailed and demanding tasks can generate extreme stress, fatigue and negative work attitudes. Savvy managers know when to relax, tell their teams to take a breather and recommend physical and emotional activities to provide relaxation and foster team spirit. Regular work breaks, chances to pursue favoured activities, team outings and other social activities can reset teams and enhance productivity. Just giving your team time to think and come up with creative ideas can spark astonishing accomplishments.

Attracting and Retaining Great People Requires Good Managers

Managers shepherd employees through multiple projects, scenarios, changes of ownership and business crises, so it’s critical that managers learn how to deal with all kinds of scenarios and people. Training a company’s managers to key leadership and performance standard ranks as one of the best methods HR departments can use to align HR services with a company’s strategic goals. Finding and keeping good people is notoriously difficult in today’s high-turnover corporate culture, and that’s why it’s so important for managers to focus on empowering and engaging rank-and-file employees. Great managers help to develop great employees, but it takes a culture of accountability, leadership and commitment to excellence.

Ari Kopoulos

CEO at EmployeeConnect