There’s a common saying that goes, “employees follow managers…not companies.” Managers are the force that create and maintain a thriving work atmosphere for their employees, engaging and motivating individuals to success, and inspiring them to follow the greater company vision. Good managers are one of the greatest assets to any company and share the common characteristics below.
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Superior communication skills. A good manager is your classic communication expert. Promoting a work environment where everyone feels valued and heard takes excellent communication skills and practice. Frequent and effective communication through multiple channels (in-person, email, phone, even voice-over IP) strengthens your ties with your employees to encourage trust and limit conflict.
A rule of thumb is to always listen first, ask questions, and then facilitate to direct with the answers and solutions at hand. Listening is especially important when employees are sharing ideas, in a team gathering, or when emotions are high. After hearing what’s said, take some time to ask questions on how the task or problem can be solved. Concentrate on solutions, not problems. Then you should be able to facilitate the conversation into a process to create next-steps for the team.
As mentioned before, frequent communication is important for everyone to be on the same page. Take a proactive approach by initiating a series of positive check-ins, an open door policy, and not waiting until conflict arises to communicate effectively with your team.
Improve or refresh your communication skills with this communications skill course.
Leading with transparency and honesty. Everyone hates being kept in the dark. Whenever possible, update your team on anything from small successes/concerns to large restructuring possibilities so that they are aware of what’s going on at all times. Even if the issue at hand does not pertain directly to them, it helps to assure that they are an integral part of the company and that their support and understanding is valued.
Supporting your employees with clear direction and removing their roadblocks for them. You are on their side and they need to feel that at all times. Be clear with your expectations for them – have them create S.M.A.R.T. goals or something similar and go through it with them. Then help them succeed with all the (reasonable) requests for technology or time that they need. See if there’s any additional training that the company can send them to if the budget allows.
Embracing technology. A good manager always keeps an eye out of technology that will promote the productivity of the team. Though some employees may be resistant to change, the bottom line is that technology may be able to take care of the more tedious aspects of their job responsibilities, which frees up time to be more strategic in their thinking. Assign a few team members to research and sign-up for certain products, such as project management software trials, and report back to you and the team. This way, it is a team decision to adopt a certain system.
Motivating with positive feedback and recognition. You can never praise someone too much! If an employee is doing a great job, be sure to recognize it privately and in the general office space so that he or she feels appreciated. At the same time, if there’s an employee that needs some improvement, let them know that you’re aware of the situation and that you’re there to help through constructive criticism. Never criticize in public.
An expert in the field. Being a leader means also means that you need to have answers to some, if not all, of the questions. A good manager is an authority in the industry and understands each role of the company. Consider some training sessions for your team that allow you to share some new strategies and refresh on methods to keep your team learning from you.
Mediating with productivity and calmness. Unfortunately, many managers report that a large portion of their time goes toward conflict resolution and mediating between employees, and sometimes between employees and clients. Even if it’s more personal than business-related, do not ignore the emotions of your employees. Doing so will create unnecessary and possibly harmful distance between you and the employee, eroding the trust in your relationship and compromising productivity in the workplace. When approached with a situation, be sure to stay calm and use the rules of effective communication to resolve the issue – listen, question, facilitate, and direct. Allow your employees to address their emotions and issues so you can help them move beyond it with an effective solution and get back to productivity.
For additional training on resolving conflict, coaching, and more, the complete people management system available here.
Promoting cross-level and cross-functional collaboration. Many companies have their teams “working in silos”, where they only immerse themselves in their whole process without the greater understanding of what’s happening in the company as a whole. Encourage employees to spend some time sharing their projects with other departments or implement a mentorship program. On a recreational level, cross-team lunches or retreats do wonders for employees getting to know each other.
Creating a productive and lively work environment. Team spirit is a wonderful thing. Make sure to set aside time for your employees to get to know each other personally, such as small office celebrations for birthdays, etc. At meetings, create team challenges to get their competitive juices going – nothing bonds a team like a contest. Or have an employee set up a humor board where employees can contribute jokes or funny pictures. Also, emphasize that you are part of the team by consistently asking them what you can do for them to make the office a better workplace.
Trusting your employees. Micromanaging, unless specifically requested by your employee, is rarely a good thing. After you’ve clearly laid the tasks and expectations, trust them to do the best job they can. You are their leader and to acquire their trust, you must lead by example.
Learn more on how to lead, coach, and manage your team here.