10 tips to be a great manager that your team needs

Vini was a rookie management trainee when she joined the company. But she had the spunk and the intelligence and soon was spotted by the top management to head a newly carved department. Vini was used to being her own self, many times getting her way through persuasion with her boss. Now when she had direct reports, she found it tough to buy their arguments. She also scored very high on Dominance on the FIRO-B personality scores. That set her alarm bells ringing. She couldn’t be a good manager if she continued behaving like an employee herself. It got her thinking about what makes a great manager?

At the time of writing this post I listed out all the supervisors that I had since my first role. Result – 13 supervisors. I then counted how many of these were the best. Result – 6. Just over half of all the supervisors I had. As I begin to think more about this, I then pondered on how they were as supervisors, why they stood out and what were common traits among them. In addition to this, I listed out some of the lessons I learnt about leadership in my many roles I’ve been fortunate with. Listed below are what I believe makes you a wonderful manager. Some may sound too preachy and some might be too simple but they all are equally important.

 

Managers do just that, manage things. But that only sounds easy, it’s pretty challenging. The first strength a manager must develop is that of knowing and understanding people. This is not easily possible in official settings. A new manager has to interact with his/her team in office as well as at casual occasions. People often drop their guard and are free to speak their heart when they are outside. Make it a point to inquire about their lives, their problems, aspirations and career plans. Make notes later if possible. It helps to know a person thoroughly when you can judiciously utilize his/her strengths that helps them flourish. It is important to make an effort and build that trust with each team member and there is no easy way about this.

You have already heard that catch phrase that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. So you definitely don’t want to be that eponymous Bad Boss. Introspect. Ask some friendly colleague about what kind of a boss are you. Many times, we speak vitriolic words in the heat of the moment and then forget it, only to leave a bitter memory in others. Being nasty, selfish, passing the buck, taking credit and generally being the baddy never shows manager in good light. Sooner or later, either you lose your position or your respect. And the latter has to be earned every day afresh.

Every member on your team comes with a different personality. No amount of personality tests and training can alter these differences. A good manager aligns people with varied personalities and in fact makes the whole thing work in sync. That requires a deep understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses and capitalizing on the same. If Kevin is good at networking, is a go-getter and Jared can minutely plan events and maintain accurate records, you can’t swap the two. If your department or unit has large workforce, study the employees in teams and batches and make your own notes. To identify and tap the potential in your team members and lead them to achieve is what one should be aiming for.

Being a thorough professional at work is good, but being friendly at times, cracking a joke or openly appreciating some member’s good work creates a healthy office atmosphere. A manager cannot afford to be fearful, though he must earn his respect rightfully. When your team fears you, they will never approach you for help in crucial times. Create an comfortable atmosphere for the team to perform and grow.

Listen to your staff. Even employees at high positions hesitate to speak before a strict boss. Encourage members to speak out and listen well before you respond. Make plans to reward suggestions. Have Open House forums where employees and supervisors can solve their issues in a healthy manner. Listening to employees preempts any grudges, complaints or misunderstanding that they may be harboring and consequently prevent any grievances. At times, matters get sorted only through listening for all they want is someone to listen.

Understand human psyche well. What motivates people, what makes them feel insecure. What drives maximum performance out of them. What do they dream of and how do they plan to grow in their careers. You may be a B-School grad but human psychology is an ever evolving thing. How and in what form do they learn best? How do they apply what they have learned etc. All these insights help a person manage not just the machine and the materials but also the man better.

Keep an open environment. Appreciate freely. Apologize if you’ve erred. There’s no such thing as personal at work. Everyone is there to accomplish work for the organization. When ego creeps in, things get murkier. Encourage staff members to express themselves in better ways. To put forth ideas even if they sound trivial or impossible at first. When each one knows she is heard, she is encouraged to speak up. Care for your team and show them you do through your behavior. Be flexible in genuine situations.

The biggest litmus test of a manager is during challenging times or when a project fails. Failure Management is a great learning point. The first response must be to own the responsibility personally. Owning responsibility relieves the team from the stress of guilt. Follow this by assessing the situation and analyze what went wrong. Let members come up with the causes for failure. Let them suggest rectifications. Sometimes all one needs is words of encouragement. Guide the team to improve and never to repeat what went wrong. Learn the lessons and move on. Setbacks are part of work, but only the determined don’t get weighed down by them.

A great manager always shows utmost integrity and strength of character. No exceptions. No fudging the accounts. No inflated travel bills. No personal expenses charged to office. People decide your respect based on your behavior. A whole lifetime worth of honesty can be marred with just one exception. You would never want that to happen. Not doing it yourself sets standards for others to follow. You don’t have to tell anybody what to do or not to do when they see you every day following highest standards.

Grow yourself. Don’t be happy and contended being a good manager. Aspire to grow. Add to your skill sets. Take more responsibility and deliver results. Drive your team towards greater output. When your team performs well, your boss would obviously know it. Don’t remain stagnant. Create a leadership pipeline so that you have a worthy successor as you move ahead in the corporate ladder.

A good manager is someone who is remembered as the “BEST BOSS I EVER HAD”.

Take a moment to comment below and share your experiences of that awesome boss you had and what made them stand out to make that lasting impression on you.

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