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What makes a Good Manager?

January 27th, 2010

Business management combines an interesting mix of theory and practice. There are numerous studies on various management styles. Then there is also the debate about management versus leadership. More on this in future blogs, yet for now I will leave you with the words of management guru Peter Drucker “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Do you think you are a good manager? What are your thoughts on your current manager? I remember reading somewhere that people join companies and leave managers. This highlights the importance of understanding what constitutes a good manager. The focus here is to provide practical tips on how to become a good manager rather than referring to academic approaches.

7 Tips on How to be a Good Manager

Motivate
Why are employees there? Don’t assume it is just money. Ask them and most importantly listen and then act. If they say it’s health, you may wish to consider being flexible on giving them time to go to the gym. If it is learning, try to arrange training sessions. If you understand and respect your team’s values you are likely to get more commitment.

Delegate
As a manager you are expected to be good at what you do. This does not however mean you should be doing everything. Your job is to teach people how to do things. Once they understand what is required let them get on with the task. There is nothing worse than being asked to complete something and then having constant “suggestions” from your boss. Avoid the tendency to micromanage. This will empower your employees and build trust.

Communicate
It is vital that employees know what is going on around them. Act as a conduit to share important and relevant company and industry information. This allows the team to see how they fit into the bigger picture and leads to promoting a solid working culture. It also indicates you welcome their opinions and suggestions. Remember it is a two way process and you are also responsible for promoting what your team is doing to the rest of the organisation.

Understand
You are seen as a source of information. Your team needs to feel that you know what you are talking about so they can come to you with queries. If you don’t know the answer to a specific question make sure you find out and get back to them. You want your team to see you as a mentor. Ensure you are your teams “go to” person. Remind your team that you are willing to listen to their questions or concerns.

Explain
Employees should always know what is expected of them. An easy way to do this is to set deliverable milestones over a period of time. Review them and discuss ways to improve or congratulate them on a job well done. Many employees will want to have some sort of roadmap for their personal success. Allow for occasional one to one time. When it comes to review time there should be no surprises and your team should know where they stand.

Learn
If something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, recognise what you could have done differently and encourage others to do the same. If the same mistakes are being repeated, find out what the cause may be. Ensure you and the team learn from your mistakes.

Acknowledge
Everyone needs recognition, some more than others! Don’t just focus on your problem employees. Ensure you’re star workers know they are doing a superior job. Employees feed off acknowledgement so when your employees complete something successfully or show initiative recognize it.

The essence of being a great manager is not necessarily something you can learn from a textbook. A good manager is likely to be decisive, strategic, organised and ideally a natural leader. Not everybody is naturally qualified to be a good manager yet we can all work at it. Almost every job will have a managing element to it so developing these skills is crucial. Coaching can help you strengthen your natural abilities as a manager as well as develop new skills and habits.

What do you think makes a good manager? Are you a great manager? Could you be one? I would love to hear your thoughts.