How to become a great manager?

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You probably heard something along the lines “not everyone is born to be a leader”. In the business world we can rephrase it to “not everyone is meant to be a manager”. While this might be partially true, too many people get this phrase wrong and often use it as an explanation for being or not being successful, hiding the real reason behind the outcome.

First and foremost, for the purpose of this article, it is important to strip this phrase of any negative connotation. In order to be a good manager or a great leader you need to have a set of skills along with a true passion for what you do. Depending on the industry you are in, these skills can vary, but the base will always be the same.

Before we get into the details of what makes a great manager, it is vital to emphasize that although you might not be the best person to be a “typical” manager, in no way it means that you can’t be an exceptional professional. The modern world and our digital society simplifies the meaning of success, so it will be more digestible through media. However, there are many ways to grow your expertize, authority, and salary without going down the “classic” managerial path.

So, let’s forget about labels and dig into the details of how to be a great manager and what it takes to become one.

Attention to detail

Being a good manager means to always have your eyes and ears open.

Although many people see a position in management as lone wolves, this cannot be any further from the truth. A good manager should be fully aware of what’s happening in the departments they’re in charge of. And a social side of managements is an absolute vital if you want your employees to succeed as a team and individuals.

Make sure to keep an eye on overall quality control yet aim to avoid micromanagement. This can be done through smart and timely reporting as well as scheduling regular training sessions and masterclasses to help your team improve. Regular employee assessments and feedback are two other areas that will help you stay on top of your departments performance and team satisfaction.

However, remember that when it comes to any additional events, timing is extremely important. Before you plan your third motivational meeting in a month, and your fourth training session, ensure you checked the schedule of all your team members and don’t forget the quarterly deadlines you set yourself three month ago.

Value your team

While it is certainly important to stay on top of business success, in order to keep the flow going and employees happy, you have to be attentive to every person on your team. Learn the people you manage, observe and remember their regular office habits and know their personal character. You don’t have to remember the names of their great grandparents but noticing that your early bird employee is showing up at work later and later every day can be a sign of stress, personal issues, or reducing professional satisfaction. The lack of attention to these details can cost you your star team member.  

But it is not only about individual employees. Have you noticed that lunch breaks became much longer? Did people start talking much more or much less when they are at their desks? Or did they start gathering outside instead? Did they slowly stop coming to you for advice? Is all this happening only within your department or do you see this within cross department groups as well?  Changes in social patterns can point to some serious issues in your company culture that you should not miss.

Except and grow through constructive criticism

Weather you noticed any of the signs we listed above or not, you should seek feedback and be ready for criticism. Fair or not, everyone is discussing and taking apart actions of their managers. Let’s be honest, you do or did it too, so do your friends, or your spouse. As we mentioned before, being a manager is a social position. In a sense, you depend on your employees way more then they depend on you. Make sure to make the most out of what they have so say. Step aside and let your HR or even an independent consultant gather feedback from your employees. But the most important step is to actually act on that feedback. Don’t delay your improvements and do not let your team give up on you.

Lead by example

I can’t stress enough how important it is to see yourself not only as an induvial, but as a part and spirit of your department. You don’t represent yourself anymore, you became the face of the whole company. You should not expect your employees to be in the office at 8 o-clock in the morning if you show up at 10 or by lunch time. It is unfair to pressure your employees to meet deadlines if you regularly reschedule your team brainstorming sessions.  If you talk too much, laugh too loud, forget closing doors, wear wrinkly or not fresh clothes, are late for meetings, don’t put your cell phone of silent, or having personal phone calls in the middle of the office, your employees won’t behave any better. There a lot of little things in life and we all are imperfect, but in order to become a better manager you have to strive to be a better person and a better professional, otherwise you won’t have a chance to keep your team inspired and motivated. Instead they will feel angry and micromanaged.

Be professional

This might seem obvious, but it is actually isn’t, especially if you have changed your company. Sales for a fin-tech company is very different from sales for a daycare center. A marketing agency operation is very different from a cyber security company. Even if your title is the same, the company culture, people, habits and characters can, and probably will be very different. You could have been an excellent motivational speaker, but you can have a difficult time inspiring a bunch of geeky web developers in your new work place. Make sure you know what the company is about, and how your new team used to work and communicate before you enforce new rules.  

Even if you have been promoted within the same company, make sure to keep yourself up-to-date on the latest trends, technology, and industry news. Otherwise, you risk losing your expertise in the rush of constant meetings and budget planning, which can result in a gradual loss of trust from your employees. Remember, you have to lead by example, right?

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