Many people think managing others is easy and that they are a good manager. However, a number of years ago a poll was conducted by YouGov, which identified that one in three employees would swap their manager if they could – with nearly one in four claiming they could do a better job themselves, given the chance!
This statistic is not really surprising when you consider how few managers receive any kind of formal management training and development. Frequently organisations promote their best sales, customer care or production person into a line management role and expect them to ‘get on with it’. But how are they supposed to know what to do or what the key attributes of an effective manager are?
All good managers do similar things and the following is our ‘top ten’ attributes of an effective manager.
- Communicate where the business is going. If you want your staff to be committed to the business then first and foremost they need to know ‘where they are going and why’. People work best when they understand how their work contributes to the company’s success. After all, having meaning and purpose in your work is highly motivating and rewarding.
- Set clear expectations. Be clear with your staff both in terms of ‘what’ needs to be achieved and ‘how’ it should be achieved. Setting clear goals and targets with staff can help them understand what needs to be done, by when and therefore keeps them focused. However, it is also important to talk to them about ‘how’ they should go about achieving their goals. For example it is not acceptable to achieve a target at any cost.
- Delegate responsibility. While it might be tempting, don’t over control your staff’s work. The more you control others work it will only encourage behaviour in them that will necessitate control. Most people want the freedom to complete a task in the way that they think is best.
- Regularly review performance. Employees need regular feedback about their performance to improve their skills and grow professionally. Make sure you regularly sit down with your staff (at least 6/7 times per year), to discuss with them what they do well and identify with them what they should do differently.
- Deal with problems immediately. Stay in tune to your staff so you can be proactive and resolve situations before they escalate. If you notice a change in an employee’s work habits, performance or behaviour, try to resolve the problem before it starts affecting the rest of your team.
- Recognise efforts. Everybody appreciates being recognised for a job well done. Monetary rewards aren’t the only way to thank employees for a job well done and are not always needed. The easiest way to recognise the effort and contribution from one of your team is by simply saying “thank you” — two small words but too often overlooked.
- Ask questions. Asking questions is a powerful way of helping others to take responsibility and solve their own problems. When a member of your team is stuck and wants your help rather than jump in and solve the problem for them ask what they think the solution might be. Encourage them to be creative and only provide the answer if they really are stuck.
- Be a coach. As a manager, one of the greatest things that you can give an employee is to share your knowledge and experience. Showing your employees firsthand how you deal with a task, what works and what doesn’t is far more effective than just talking them through it.
- Be firm but fair. The most popular types of manages are firm and also fair. For example, family emergencies and other unplanned events will always arise, and it’s part of a managers role to show compassion by being flexible with work hours and time off so their staff can tend to important matters. Employees always appreciate a sympathetic boss, and as long as their work and business doesn’t suffer, make every effort to accommodate workers who have special needs.
- Plan time for yourself. It is vital that you put time aside to reflect and think about your responsibilities that are important but are not pressing (i.e urgent). These might include tasks such as improving your team’s performance or providing better service to your customers. If you don’t put time aside then you can easily become consumed by day to day activities.
Being a good manager means putting in time and effort to do the things outlined above. However, some managers may not have the skills or confidence to say delegate work or manage performance effectively. In these circumstances it is vital to invest in management training and development to improve their capability to ensure that they do not become another YouGov statistic!