Be a Good Manager
In every large organization, there's a hierarchy of management that keeps the whole operation running smoothly. A good manager is able to blend into the background, changing small things here and there to great effect. Being a good manager is about leading by example. It's one of the toughest jobs out there — in part because you have to manage other people's expectations — and also because it's one of the least acknowledged tasks. Despite this, there are several tricks of the trade that will help you successfully manage all your responsibility, in style and with verve.
Motivating Your Employees
- Motivate people. Why are the employees there? What keeps them with your organization and stops them from going somewhere else? What makes the good days good? What makes them stick with the organization after a bad day or a bad week? Don't assume it's money - most people are more complex than that.
- Remember, our values are what make us "tick." If you manage by respecting your team's values, they will give you their best effort.
- Ask the employees how they're liking their job on a regular basis. Encourage them to be honest with you. Then take action based upon what they tell you.
- Offer perks that your employees will value. If health is important to them, give them time to go to the gym and work out. If their family is important, respect the time they may need to send their kids off to school in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon.
- Make people feel good. The successful manager is great at identifying employees' strengths and applauding them every once in a while. That's because good managers know that happy people make productive people. Try to applaud your employees' strengths both publicly and privately.
- In a meeting with your boss, for example, mention something one of your workers did well. If your boss happens to mention to that worker that you said something good about them, they're likely to feel that you appreciate them and made the effort to put in a good word. That sort of compliment doesn't go unnoticed.
- Privately laud what your employees do well. Tell them when you have a moment. Go into detail. A private chat, however short, can have a positive impact on morale, resulting in more self-motivation.
- Tell your employees how much you appreciate them from time to time. Just go out and say it. Ask them out for a cup of coffee and tell them what you appreciate about them: They're a hard worker; they effectively motivate other people; they're easy to coach; they're disciplined or go the extra mile; they always cheer you up, etc. Don't mince words — just tell them straight out. An employee who knows just how much they are appreciated will work harder, enjoy what they do more, and pass that psychic happiness along to other employees.
- Under-promise, over-deliver. This idea can apply to several different areas of life, but it's a great managerial mantra. Do you want to be the kind of person who has wildly optimistic goals that they never meet, or do you want to be the kind of person who sets measured goals and ends up exceeding them by leaps and bounds? Although this is about image, image is extremely important.
- Don't be the kind of person who never shoots for the moon. Staying measured in your goals doesn't mean that you should always play it conservative, never setting high goals. A manager who never punches above her weight can come across as lacking ambition. Even the conservative poker player knows they need to go 'all-in' from time to time.
- Make sure each employee knows what's expected. Having concrete goals empowers your employees and keeps them focused on work. Explicitly outline what you expect, when the deadline is, and what you'll do with the results.
- Offer goal-oriented feedback. Providing your employees with quick feedback that's focused on their work can help foster improvement. Meet in small teams or one-on-one, and go over your comments in detail.
- Set up a schedule for feedback. Offer it regularly so that your employees know when to expect it and can make space for it in their workflows.
- Hold yourself to the highest standards. We all know the kind of manager who constantly shouts or bitterly complains when mistakes are made but gives themselves a 'pass' when they fail. Don't be this kind of manager. Ideally, be harder to on yourself than you are on your employees. This can have a trickle-down effect: Employees see the types of goals and standards you set for yourself and want to emulate you because they look up to you.
- Delegate. You're a manager because you're good at what you do, but that doesn't mean you're supposed to do everything yourself. Your job as a manager is to teach other people how to do a good job.
- Start small. Give people tasks that, if performed incorrectly, can be fixed. Take the opportunity to teach and empower your employees. Then gradually give them tasks with greater responsibility as you come to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
- Learn how to anticipate any problems they might have so you can coach them properly before they begin.
- Assign tasks that will stretch your employees. As your workers begin to take on more responsibility and demonstrate that they're capable, give them tasks that will expand their skills and help them take more ownership of their work. Not only are you finding out how much your employees can handle, you're making them more valuable to the company.
- Assume responsibility for your employees' mistakes. When one of your underlings makes a mistake, don't lord it over them; assume the mistake as your own, even if it isn't technically yours. What you're doing is creating a culture where your employees feel comfortable making mistakes.
This is a very important concept:
- Doing this allows your employees to innovate and, ultimately, to learn or grow. Workers who learn from their mistakes will grow to become better workers; those who fail to make mistakes in the first place usually play it too safe, never venturing out into deep water.
- Don't take credit for your employees' achievements. Let them take credit for their own achievements. This motivates them to continue to chase after success. The successful manager is like a conductor that orchestrates the music so that each element sounds as good as possible and resonates with the group as a whole. A great conductor will lead by example, blending into the background.
- What happens if you're the type of manager who "steals" someone's idea and plays it off as your own? You send the message that you only care about your image and are ruthless enough to sacrifice someone else in order to get ahead. That's not a great image to have, and it certainly doesn't motivate the people below you to work harder.
- You may be thinking — take responsibility for other people's mistakes and don't take credit for what your employees do; where does that leave me? If you do good work and you're an effective manager, you shouldn't worry about dressing up your laurels. People will recognize the work that you do. Even more important, they'll be impressed that you motivate your employees, know how to be humble, and stay out of the way. If you work hard, you'll get your dues.
- Acknowledge your own missteps. When things don't turn out the way you expected, recognize what you could have done differently and verbalize this realization to your employees. This shows them that you make mistakes too, and it also shows them how they should handle their own mistakes.
- Whenever you're doing something correctly after having done it incorrectly in the past, let whoever is watching know. For example: "The reason I know to press this button is because this happened to me when I first started out, and I made the mistake of pressing the blue button, thinking 'This will shut down the system, which should resolve the issue' and I found out — the hard way — that it makes the issue even worse!"
- Keep the door open. Always remind people that if they have any questions or concerns, you're ready and willing to listen. Maintaining an open channel of communication will make you aware of problems quickly, so that you can fix them as soon as possible.
- Don't be one of those managers who inadvertently makes an employee feel like they're bothering you when they bring up a question or concern. Instead of seeing it as another crisis to manage, look at it as an opportunity to show your employee how much you want this organization to be a fulfilling place to work.
- Never minimize or dismiss the concerns of your employees, and always make sure that you've answered their questions completely.
- Take an interest in your employees. Don't make every interaction with your workers strictly business. Ask after their well-being, chat with them about yourself, and establish a personal connection.
- Being in-tune with your employees' lives outside the office can potentially alert you to times when that person needs extra consideration from you, for instance if he or she requires sudden time off for a family funeral. If you can be accommodating about upheavals in the personal lives of your workers, they'll feel good about rewarding you with loyalty.
- Know your boundaries. Don't overstep and ask your employees about anything too personal, such as religion, politics, or personal relationships. You can keep up a friendly rapport without being invasive.
- Don't mix positive and negative feedback. Say you're giving your employee feedback in a performance review. You start off by mentioning how great the employee is to work with, and note one or two additional things they've excelled at. Then you launch into an extended itemization of their deficits — "sales were down this quarter," "revenue slipped," etc. What do you think the employee hears most resoundingly, the positive or the negative?
- When you mix positive and negative feedback, both areas suffer. The positive becomes overshadowed by the negative, and the negative doesn't carry the full force of its potential impact. Of course, there may be situations where you'd want to communicate this, but on the whole it makes communication less effective.
- When you silo positive and negative feedback, the positive stands out even more and the negative becomes more urgent.
- Listen. Listen to what your employees and coworkers have to say. You don't always need to be the driver of meetings, keeping others out by dominating the podium. Always make a sincere effort to listen, but be on the lookout most during the following situations:
- When employees are actively sharing ideas. Don't butt in and talk just to make sure your voice is part of the mix. This can put the idea-sharing into a stranglehold.
- When emotions are turbulent. Let people voice their emotions in a safe, controlled environment. Stifled emotions can turn into resentment, eroding your working relationship. Similarly, emotions that are not adequately dealt with can interfere with rational discussion, which should be the mainstay of your work environment.
- When teams are building relationships or having discussions. Offer your employees a receptive ear when they're building relationships and getting creative.
- Clarify what you're hearing. A good manager not only strives to make herself clearer, but also strives to understand what those around her are saying. You can do this by repeating what the other person has said as a part of your conversation. Use this technique when you're not exactly sure what the other person is saying.
- Instead of asking your co-worker "I'm sorry, can you repeat what you just said? I'm not sure I understood." say something like "So you're saying that we could drive up productivity by offering more meaningful incentives. What might that look like in the flesh?"
- Ask questions. Intelligent questions show that you can follow the flow of the conversation and clarify when necessary. Don't be afraid to ask questions because you're worried about appearing "stupid." Effective managers care about understanding what's important; they don't care about how they get there. Know, too, that others will probably have questions and may not ask. If you ask their question for them, you can act as a facilitator and build your team's engagement level. That's the true mark of a manager.
- Treat everyone equally. Most of us aren't as egalitarian as we'd like to be. Many times, favoritism happens on a subconscious level. The tendency is to give more positive recognition to the people who remind us of ourselves somehow and who actually like us, rather than to the people who make the biggest contributions to the organization. In the long run, it's people in the latter group who will make the most progress in achieving the organization's goals, so monitor your own behavior carefully and make sure you're not accidentally short-changing them, even if they give you the impression that your positive regard doesn't affect them. Some people shy away from positive feedback but appreciate it nonetheless.
- Treat your employees well. If you're good to your workers and they're happy with their jobs, they'll pass that kindness on to customers and invaluably bolster the image of your company. Or, they'll do the same for their employees and maintain a positive corporate culture.
- Be good to your team. Without them you can't succeed.
- Don't scold the entire department for what one person is doing wrong. For example, you notice that Jane is often late to work. Instead of sending a group email warning everyone to be on time, confront Jane privately.
- Avoid making employees stay after normal working hours. Respect their time and personal commitments and they will reciprocate by producing exceptional results for their manager and the organization.
- Celebrate success with your team, whether it's by giving them a pat on the back, taking them to lunch, or giving them the afternoon off.
- Never reprimand an employee publicly, no matter how well deserved.
- Before taking a drastic step like termination, consider having the employee transferred to another department. He or she may bloom in a different environment.
- If termination is absolutely necessary, don't automatically give the employee a bad reference. The job may simply have been a bad fit. Emphasize the employee's strengths and skills.
- Intervene immediately whenever there is a conflict between employees. Don't ignore the problem, or suggest that they work it out themselves. An employee in this situation often feels trapped and powerless, especially if the other employee outranks them or has seniority with the company. Schedule individual meetings with each employee, then see them together. Call in a company mediator if necessary. Address the specific problem(s), not general complaints. "I resent having to help Bob when he gets behind, because he never does the same for me" is a specific problem. "I don't like Bob's attitude" is a general complaint.
- Being a good manager doesn't mean being a people pleaser. If an employee keeps crossing the line or failing to meet expectations, use a feedback sandwich or nonviolent communication to correct the situation. If that fails, consider firing them.
- Snow days present a problem for employees with children. The day care center or school may be closed. Should you allow employees to bring their children to work on snow days? Check with your Human Resources department, since there may be safety or insurance issues. It is very important to respect employees' time and personal life.
- Build a Management Team
- Overcome Bad Background Checks
- Be a Sales Training Manager
- Be a Good Boss
- Reduce Employee Turnover
- Deal With Impossible People
- Resolve a Conflict at Work
- Become a Leader in Network Marketing
- Hire the Perfect Production Professional for Your Business
- Build a Good Relationship with Your Manager
Sources and Citations
- http://www.businessinsider.com/8-habits-of-highly-effective-google-managers-2011-3 — Google's 8 Habits of Highly Effective Managers