It’s not hard to describe a bad manager. We’ve all dealt with bosses that micromanage, criticize, and make it harder to get the job done.
But what qualities make someone a good manager? Whether it’s your first time with a direct report or you’ve spent years leading a team, there are a few traits you can develop to set your employees up for success. After all, good managers aren’t born; anyone can grow into it with the right intentions and a little practice.
A good manager is:
Being a good leader starts with knowing your own shortcomings. If you don’t understand your strengths and weaknesses, and how your temperament, beliefs, and experiences impact your decisions, you’re missing the mark. That level of self-analysis can be tough but knowing where you have room to grow can help you improve how you work with your employees and set a good example for your team.
If you’re not sure where to start, request a 360-degree assessment if your company offers them. It’s an opportunity to get feedback from your peers and subordinates, as well as your superiors, to get a full picture of how you’re doing. Or ask a trusted colleague or former boss to weigh in.
As a manager, it might be tempting (and sometimes easier) to just do the work yourself, but that’s a temporary fix. Great bosses don’t control; they coach. This means providing feedback on a regular basis, developing your employees’ problem-solving skills, and setting broad goals while giving your team room to figure out how they’ll achieve them.
Communicating is more than just sharing information with your employees. It can come in many forms, including your actions. Modern workers are looking for a manager who is authentic, and that means making an effort to engage your team. Leaders need to share information, but also open a line of sight to their own thinking and be more transparent. And of course, with more flexible forms of work like telecommuting growing, effective and frequent communication is even more important to keep your team happy and connected.
Communication can only be effective if it’s well-received. As a leader, you’ve got to have good interpersonal skills because that impacts how others are going to perceive you. You can have the best-laid plans, but if people don’t respond to you and they don’t trust you, they’re not going to support your vision.
Put your team at ease by paying attention to how others react, allowing your team to do the talking in meetings, and giving feedback that is encouraging instead of critical.
Teams aren’t just employees that all have the same function or output; they can also be a cohesive unit, a supportive group, and even a work family. Good bosses are the ones that foster that feeling.
Set a common goal for your group that everyone can feel like they’re contributing toward, and help employees feel supported so they can be themselves and do their best work. It’s really important to figure out, how do we create the best environment? so that people can do their jobs and deliver great products.
You have to balance day-to-day operations with the big picture. Taking time to reflect can set your team up for success. We need to be able to take strategic pauses to separate the signal from the noise, make connections we might not have made in the moment, and prioritize how to move forward.
Sometimes, just being there can make all the difference. This includes being physically present for the team, but it can also mean making sure they know they can come to you for anything.
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