Maybe you’ve been recently promoted to a management position. Or maybe you’re hoping to one day move up to the manager role. Whatever the stage of your career, if management is on the table, you need to understand what makes a good leader. You’ll need an understanding of how to motivate your team without becoming the “rude boss” or lowering morale, and how to push for efficiency while maintaining a human element.
In this blog, let’s discuss some of the key qualities of a good manager.
No one responds to “because I said so.” And yet, some managers believe that they need to keep their employees on a need-to-know basis. The truth is that unless there’s an NDA involved, it’s always better to be transparent. Employees want to know why they’re being asked to do something. When they do know, when they feel trusted and in the loop, they’re much more likely to approach their jobs with gusto. Keeping them in the dark feels like lording over them, and any employee will resent that.
Being a manager is not about being the most competent person on the team. It’s about being a team leader, which takes skilled communication. Whether it’s in person, over email, or through a series of Zoom meetings, you are responsible for communicating to your entire team and keeping everyone on the same page.
What is a skilled communicator? Someone who is clear in their explanations and happy to answer any questions. Someone who doesn’t fly into a panic or lose their temper when things don’t go according to plan but rather stays patient and calm as they describe what to do next. Don’t throw around blame, but instead stay focused on a solution.
Communication is not just you talking. It’s also the ability to listen to what your team communicates to you. Employees can tell when they’re not being listened to — and when they feel that way, they might be tempted to turn elsewhere or to go to a different company completely. Listen to the opinions of those on your team and to their concerns. Even if you don’t agree with them, try to understand where they’re coming from. Let that challenge your own mindset. Is there something in their perspective that you’re missing with just your own?
You want to recognize team members who are doing a stellar job, but you don’t want to pit employees against each other. While “employee of the month” or “team member of the month” is a common recognition, studies have shown that stacked rankings of employees can have a demoralizing effect on the team in general.
Competition is not the only way to motivate. Instead, celebrate your team’s cooperation. Encourage teamwork by giving them ways to work together and help each other. Recognize your team’s stellar efforts when they work together and celebrate that more than celebrating specific individuals — or, better yet, celebrate your team as a whole and encourage them to uplift individual members amongst each other.
Sometimes you have to change your approach or your routine when it isn’t working. While that’s natural, try to make sure it’s not happening every couple of months. For the most part, you want to keep things consistent. Your team should know what to expect when they come into work. They should have an understanding of your management style and what’s expected of them — what works and what doesn’t. If you have to change things, go over it with the team and explain the reason for the change. This will help everyone to adjust.
Your team should be able to trust you. You want them to be able to trust that if they share their opinions or voice their concerns, they won’t be punished for it. They want to trust that you have their best interests at heart. And you should. You are responsible for this team during work hours. If a member of the team is suffering, the whole team suffers. Treat your team with respect, consider their interests, and you will be on your way to becoming a trustworthy manager.
Finally, you need to be able to see the big picture. Employees can often get stressed about the little details, as those little details are what makes up most of their job. But yours is to see the overarching goal. A good manager not only sees the big picture but inspires their team to see the same. A good manager can use their vision to motivate, to help the team understand what they’re working towards. When you do, the team is more motivated and more invested in their work.