11 Ways to Be a Better Manager Today – Al Getler
Management would be so easy if it wasn’t for those darned people looking for direction. That is, however, why you are the boss. Work needs to be accomplished efficiently, people need to be motivated to do the work, and someone needs to remove the barriers to allow the team to flourish and grow. You need to be a better manager to accomplish these things.
Becoming a better manager requires you to stick to the things that deliver for your organization, for your team and for you, the manager.
Here are 11 ways to be a better manager today:
- Listen as Much as You Talk – The title manager or boss does not automatically give you the keys to the treasure chest of all knowledge. Managers have to learn twice as much as their subordinates to stay ahead (see number 11). Your team can teach you as much as anyone just by listening to them, understanding their challenges and working with them on solutions. I had a manager that asked, before we confront him with a problem, to always have two possible solutions. Then he would listen. Think of all the solutions to problems he had gathered just by listening.
- Make Everyone’s Role Clear – It might appear obvious that everyone knows their role in an organization, but you will be surprised to know that people are often times confused when it comes to where they fit in. If you are a new manager, ask each team member their role. Once you have listened to each person’s role, communicate back to the team any adjustments required to get the work done. New manager or not, run through the roles once a year as the lines constantly become blurred as people change and grow,
- Let People Grow with Delegation and Difficult Assignments – Delegation is often the most difficult skill managers have to develop in themselves. Most managers are promoted to the position because they do well in their field. Once they become the manager, walking away from the work becomes a challenge. Managers that don’t allow themselves to be promoted (in their own minds) end up not delegating work to their team. As a result, the members of the team do not get the chance to take on more difficult challenges and do not learn from delegation. Better managers delegate often.
- Do What You Say You Will Do – If you say you will do something; then do it. Don’t placate employees by saying you will act on something knowing well you will not. You will quickly be labeled as untrustworthy. There is no better way to disengage your team then to lie to them. And don’t blame things on your superiors as that will eventually come around and bite you where you deserve to be bitten.
- Give the Credit to the Team When You Win – Aren’t you the best boss ever? Your team hit the goal, came in under budget or came up with a way to save money. You should take a victory lap, right? Sorry there, chief. Instead, fade to the background and let the team get the credit. Everyone knows you are the team leader. Relax. (Note: It took me a couple of decades to get this one right and it is still a work in progress.)
- Take the Blame When You Lose – When your team comes up short, take the blame. You will take the opposite action from the team winning. Step out in front and take responsibility for the missed goal, missing the deadline or going over budget. Again, everyone knows you are the team leader and will respect you for taking the responsibility. If your team fails repeatedly then you must identify why and fix it. Ask for help and let your boss know when you are in trouble. See number one.
- Make Time For Yourself – When your team does well, step back and reflect. Understand what is working and what can be improved. You can’t be a better manager and direct your team if you don’t take time to reflect, plan and schedule. If your team is not doing well, spend time thinking things through. Seek advice and think about the advice. It is okay to close the door and hang a ‘Do No Disturb’ sign or head to a coffee shop, park or library just to think for a few minutes. My personal favorite is to just take a drive. Once I return, the solutions seem to be there waiting for me
- Praise Publicly and Reprimand Privately – This might be a management cliché at this point. It is, for the most part, true. Absolutely give praise when praise is due. Just be sure to make it healthy praise. By that I mean do not play favorites and be aware that if one person is always getting the praise, it begins to have the opposite effect on the team. The rule for a reprimand remains an absolute. Do not embarrass anyone with a public reprimand and that includes an email. It is humiliating to the person and makes you look like a giant jerk.
- Have Good Relationships Outside Your Department/Location – You owe it to your team to maintain positive relationships with other areas of your company. You may need a bit of extra help from the shipping and receiving department one day. If you have already established a good working relationship with that department, then the door is open to ask for help. Be prepared to return the favor or at least drop off a box of donuts as a thank you. Your team will follow your lead and build solid relationships throughout the organization. This is one of the ways a team becomes know as ‘well-oiled’. Note: Do not make these insincere, one-way relationships. Be the first to offer help and help will come your way.
- Do Not Micromanage – This is something that drives me crazy. I hate to be micromanaged. There is no bigger way to damage motivation, in my opinion, than being a nitpicking manager. Micromanaging tells the tam that you do not trust them. Your team will eventually begin to shut down and feel like there is nothing they can do without your involvement. Your best team members will fade away. They will feel stifled by your constant poking. If you don’t believe me ask anyone that works for a micromanager.
- Keep Learning – You have been given the responsibility to manage people and their careers. Don’t you owe it to your team and to yourself to constantly challenge yourself to grow? You should be reading at least one or two books related to business each year. You should constantly be learning about the newest developments in your field. You should be attending a seminar to expand your horizons. If you work for a company that doesn’t invest in your growth, then you owe it to yourself and your team to make that investment. You will be shocked to see how many cost-effective opportunities are out there if you look. Heck, I attended a conference in New York City last spring that opened up a whole new world for me. To make it affordable, I stayed with my brother-in-law and used public transportation.
There is a lot in it for you to be a better manager starting today. Better managers get things done. Better managers motivate their team members to achieve great things. Better managers are given bigger challenges by their bosses. Better managers get promoted more than their counterparts.
Step up to the plate and be the manager you team needs you to be. Better managers produce better results.
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