Management Matters

10 Ways to be a Better Manager

Date Posted: 01/8/2016

The path to good manager-ship is fair leadership, the singular and most critical characteristic of being a good people-manager. This is however a quality that too many managers lack. They are seniors who get work done by their juniors reluctantly, mostly under fear, not faith. Though many such managers are high achievers and get promoted to senior positions, they lack real leadership skills and the critical people-skills to carry subordinates along in order to make a cohesive team that works well. Good people skills are not common, but can always be developed with experience or under proper guidance.

Honestly mark yourself in reverse (100 to 0) to see how badly or well you score before you examine suggested ways to improve yourself. (Scoring: below 30 – need counseling; 30-40 – poor; 40-60 – average; 60-75 – good; 75+ – excellent).

1.    You handle everyone the same way without accepting that each individual is different. (-10)
2.    You select employees as favorites because you like them. (-10)
3.    You impose unrealistic targets. (-10)
4.    You expect people to be perfect at all times and in everything they do. (-10)
5.    You don’t treat all your employees with courtesy and trust. (-10)
6.    You are impatient with other people’s point of view. (-10)
7.    You distance yourself from your team because you neither like them nor your role, nor do you believe in what you do. (-10)
8.    You lack empathy towards subordinates because you need to show you’re the boss. (-10)
9.    You sometimes deprive subordinates of your time. (-10)
10.    You sometimes don’t give credit for jobs well done. (-10)

Now that you know what not to do, here are some guidelines on how good manager-ship can be practiced for successful administration of your group:

1.    Don’t be a ‘know-all’. You need to have the humility to want to learn new aspects of every function of the department or section assigned to you from others around you, including your own subordinates. You may have worked hard and gained confidence and recognition, but it is improbable that you know everything about every aspect of the responsibilities entrusted to you. Therefore open yourself to continuous learning from others and you will not only learn fast and get to know your team better but you will also be respected for it.

2.    Express well. Keep all lines of communication always open with your  subordinates and update them on what is happening. Good communication is essential to both establishing your credibility and to ensure that nobody can say that he or she did not know something they should have known. This will also avoid duplication of work and more accountability.

3.    Show them how. Mentor everyone and show them the way to professionalism, without assuming that they already know how to handle their roles as you expect. Practice ethical management by developing the deserving in your team for key roles, not your favorites. Shake up your department so that the true nuggets surface. Then encourage and enable them to rise above their assigned roles so that they form your core support system.  Don’t humiliate or cast aside anyone in your team although this may prompt a smirk among some, but de-motivate the team in the long term.

4.    Take feedback seriously. Let your subordinates not feel intimated or inhibited to disclose issues to you unless you are pressurizing them. Welcome diverse opinions from subordinates on all issues related to work under an open-door system and let your team feel that you are willing to take their opinions with the seriousness they expect.

5.    Acknowledge effort. Weigh effort against failure without emotion and publicly recognize subordinates’ sincere attempts as this boosts their confidence in you, and also ensures sustainability of their efforts for future success. A pat on the back and timely praise for a good try should be your motto with your team.

6.    Don’t let decisions hang. A responsive manager is a leader who takes considered decisions with promptness and does not backtrack even if such decisions sometimes backfire. Don’t evade responsibility for your own wrong decision as a manager’s reliability to his team is proportionate to his courage to accept his errors.  Accept that you are not perfect in taking prompt decisions which are always right and endear yourself to the people who depend upon you and look up to you for inspiration.

7.    Lead towards the corporate vision. Share the corporate vision vertically in the context of your team’s individual aspirations. Let them understand what the company is all about, what they are required to work towards and how their assignments relate to the company’s overall goals. Explain how every task they execute impacts the work-flow.

8.    Empower continuous personal development. Take your team towards a discovery of improving skills for updating work systems. Show them the value of acquiring new skills and encourage their ideas and innovations with rewards.

9.    Allow elbow room to develop individual styles. In team building, make allowances for every member to work most effectively if allowed the liberty to function in his or her own unique style. This is a great people-motivator and encourages each person to self-adjust into the team in order to work together for achieving group objectives.

10.    Get better at managing money. Knowing that profits are necessary for the company to survive is not enough. Clearly understand the economics of the organization’s business so as to teach and enable your team to also appreciate this basic justification for everybody working so hard. This will mature the team’s attitude, create ownership and ensure their cooperation.

Growing into an effective manager will demand a cocktail mix of intelligence, humility and sensitivity to enhance your leadership skills for evolving into the model manager. So, look within and adapt as necessary.

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