A manager is defined as a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff. They are tasked with the authority over a department, monitoring the work and progression of each individual and taking command of a situation. But what really makes a good manager great?

Management is tough and certainly isn’t for everyone. Being a manager puts you in a position of responsibility and authority over a team of people whose actions and performance reflect back to you. You’ll be expected to delegate effectively, build respectful relationships and make hard decisions. Yes, that sounds like a lot of hard work, but if you get it right, managing a team can be one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever do. 

Unfortunately, some managers struggle to find the right balance and this can be somewhat detrimental to the morale and success of the team. 

Being a great manager is something that comes naturally to some people, but not all. Don’t worry though. If you’re struggling to find your flow, follow these simple tips and you’ll be knocking out management goals left, right and centre. 

Know your Staff

First and foremost, you need to understand your team.

It’s easy enough to learn their names and a brief background of your staff members, but you’ll need to know more than just where they grew up and how many dogs they have. 

Take the time to really get to know your employees. What are their likes, their dislikes? Is there anything going on in their personal lives that might affect them in the workplace that you should be aware of (and not just on a business level)? 

By showing your staff that you care about them enough to want to know them as individuals, you’ll begin to nurture relationships that will help to build a solid foundation of trust and respect within your team. 

Why not ask them to take 10 minutes to complete a personality test? It’s a fun exercise that will help them to understand themselves a bit more, and will show you how they work and learn too. 

Create your own Style 

Summon up an idea of the type of manager you want to be based on previous experiences with your own managers, be them good or bad, and then park them on the bench. It’s really important to remember that part of being a great manager is to bring your own style to the table. 

I’m not saying don’t take inspiration of what you should or shouldn’t be from those people. It’s inevitable that your past experiences are going to form some part of who you become, but they shouldn’t shape you completely. 

As an individual, you will have your own thoughts and feelings of how things should or shouldn’t be done. That’s not to say that you’ll get it right every time, but don’t be afraid to try new things. Developing your own management style will bring a new level of confidence to your work that you might not find it you try to recreate what someone else has done previously.

If you’re not quite sure where to start, why not try finding an approach you’ve seen used before and build on it to make it unique to you? As you go along, you’ll find new ideas will flow more naturally.

Lead by Example

Telling your staff what you expect from them is all well and good, but if they don’t see you proactively doing the same then they aren’t going to take you very seriously. 

Any employee who’s told they’re expected to stay late while their superior skips off home dead on 5pm or is pulled up for looking at their phone during work hours only to listen to the boss on personal calls all day, isn’t likely to be handing out any manager of the year awards. 

If you have expectations of your staff to act in a certain manner, you need to lead by example. All hands needed on deck to meet a tight deadline? Stay late with your team and help them get the job done. If you’re feeling generous, why not shout them takeaway as a thank you for all their hard work while you’re at it? And if there’s a strict ‘no phones’ policy in the office, put your mobile on silent and stash it away in your bag until it’s clocking off time. There’s hardly anything worse for a team’s morale than a manager with a ‘so and I say, not as I do’ attitude. 

Set Achievable Goals for yourself and your Team

When you know the strengths of your team, you can decide which members will perform best in different roles and delegate responsibilities to the people best suited to them. When people accept ownership of specific responsibilities it is best if they can be allowed the freedom to get on with their task in their own way, and so it’s important to set clear and achievable goals.

Set timescales and deadlines, provide any facilities that are needed, and then offer support when required and monitor progress.

SMART is a useful yardstick when managers are delegating responsibilities. They should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable and agreed
  • Realistic and relevant
  • Time framed

Ask for Regular Feedback

How are you meant to know how well you’re doing as a manager if you don’t hear it first hand from the source of your work?

Offering your staff the opportunity to give their feedback on your management skills and approach to running the team will do one of two things. 

Firstly, you’re going to find out how your staff feel about you and how well you’re doing at managing them. Now, this might feel a bit daunting at first since you don’t know what’s going to be said. However, this is a great opportunity for you to understand whether you’re getting things right or wrong, if there are aspects of your management approach that your team love or whether there are parts that need work. 

Feedback, so long as it’s constructive, is a good thing regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, so grasp every opportunity to learn about how your team feels and make the absolute most of it. 

There are plenty of effective ways to gather feedback from your staff. For example, why not create a management feedback form which gets sent out before or after each staff appraisal? Alternatively, consider adopting an employee engagement survey.

The second, and possibly most valuable thing to gain from giving staff the chance to feedback on your management is that you’re telling them their thoughts and feelings matter to you. By showing them that you want to hear their opinions and care about what they are saying will increase their trust and respect for you, in turn, increasing morale and productivity. I call that a win-win. 

Show Staff that you Listen 

Asking your staff what they think doesn’t matter in the slightest if you don’t demonstrate that you’ve listened to and understood what they’ve said. The same is true for any concerns or grievances they might raise. 

That’s not to say that you have to do everything your staff ask you for, but take in what they’re saying, consider the best course of action and if there’s nothing to come from it, sit them down and explain your reasons. But be sure to make them understand that you value their input and thank them for sharing their thoughts with you.