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How would you define “manager?” Google will tell you a manager is “a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.” That sounds easy enough ― like anyone can be a manager.
But what makes a good manager? The kind that inspires a team, fosters growth and productivity, and frequently asks for feedback on their management style? Simply managing a team doesn’t make a good manager. It’s the amount of effort and leadership they put into making their team successful.
Don’t fret if you have a poor manager (or you think you are one). If your manager is dedicated to your team’s success and is passionate about leadership, learning how to become a good manager just takes a little effort. After all, you and your manager should be working together towards the same goal.
So, what makes a good manager?
Here are some best practices of good managers:
1. They have their team’s back
Do you have your team’s back? During one-on-ones, it’s easy to side with your team members, but are you consistent around your boss? Good managers aren’t afraid to stand up to their directors and defend the team’s ideas and efforts. However, good managers won’t always take their team’s side. They’re upfront and honest with their team when it comes to pushback from executives.
2. They have their team’s trust
It’s important to ask yourself: does my team trust me? Oftentimes, managers say one thing to appease their team, and then do another — which leads to manipulation and mistrust from the team. Good managers keep promises to their team and provide explanations (not excuses) when plans change. Earning trust is a form of respect, and respect is fundamental to leadership.
3. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
Many poor managers believe busywork should be left to their employees. They leave tedious tasks to the team, no matter how many fire drills are thrown at them. Diving in and getting involved with your team on important projects is the difference between a boss and a leader. Good managers understand that failure reflects both on the team and on the manager, which is why they jump in to help out in any way possible, no matter how mundane the task.
4. They want you to succeed as individuals, and as a team
Part of what makes a good manager is remembering that your team is made up of individuals who strive to reach their own personal goals as well as the team’s goals. Good managers make it a priority to meet with each individual within their team to discover strengths and find ways to work on weaknesses.
5. They are transparent
When it comes to important decisions, big project updates, and crucial changes within the organization, good managers keep their team informed. They believe that being honest and transparent with their team instills trust and demonstrates leadership. Except for confidential company decisions, a good manager should always communicate with their team and be open to answering questions or addressing concerns.
6. They take risks
Playing it safe might be the easy way out, but meeting your goals doesn’t always come easy. Taking risks and experimenting should be encouraged, and managers should set the example by being first to jump in and test the waters. Failures will happen ― being agile and making mistakes is a key component to learning and growing as a team.
7. They say no
As hard as it may be, a good manager is not afraid to say no. They understand it might not make everyone happy, even if it’s the right decision. This also applies when new work requests come from directors and executives that the manager believes cannot (or should not) be handled by their own team.
8. They encourage collaboration
Learning how to be a better manager will encourage your team to be better collaborators. Collaborating on projects and ideas improves communication and overall productivity. Each team member can have separate roles and tasks, but finding ways to encourage collaboration, such as organizing brainstorming sessions and team building activities, will boost morale and innovation.
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9. They give credit where credit is due
A good manager recognizes when their team works hard. Outside of bonuses and promotions, there are many other small ways to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Organizing a small party, having cupcakes delivered to the office, or sending a simple email shoutout acknowledges their excellent performance and increases morale.
10. They find time to have fun
Yes, you are constantly busy and focused on how to be an effective leader, but good managers always make time for fun. Scheduling happy hours, lunch outings, and scavenger hunts are great activities for keeping things light and entertaining. Remember: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
It’s never too late to start implementing some characteristics of great managers. Whether you’ve received A+ feedback from your employees or know there are some areas you could work on, the definition of a good manager is someone who makes the success and happiness of their team a top priority.