How does one become a good manager? Every manager has probably asked this question at some point. Managers are driven by performance and many of them want to take care of their employees and companies along the way. In order to accomplish all of this, the good manager has to go beyond course-taught administrative, analytical, and organizational talents. The good manager must understand the life-giving element in every business.
No, good managers aren’t trying to play God. Instead, they are trying to understand what makes the company tick. What are the ghosts in the machine? What really drives productivity, high moral, and other often intangible aspects that can dramatically impact a company’s performance?
For managers, this can be very difficult as there’s often an invisible wall between employees and their managers. In fact, Gallup found that managers are the person that many employees want to spend the least amount of time with. Don’t take it personally, managers can be intimidating, and many employees fear that they are being critically judged whenever management is around.
Of course, managers face a lot of pressure because they have to bring the company to life. Good managers do this by expertly managing both human and material resources. However, this is easier said than done, since humans, in particular, can be difficult to manage as each person has their own unique traits, skills, and short-comings.
However, human resources are perhaps the only resource that can be enlarged. Under the right management, employees will not only perform, they will outperform. The good manager knows how to make employees tap into their full potential and to exceed expectations.
In turn, companies play a very important role in society. If you think back to Economics 101, you might remember that markets are generally considered to be the best allocators of resources. Companies, which operate in competitive markets, are the agents charged with allocating resources.
Managers need to ensure that their company is allocating resources efficiently, which is a complex subject in and of itself, especially for people-resources. How do you attract the most talented future employees? How do you get the most out of your team? What management skills can you use to bring out the best in people?
There's another important question, one that’s often hard to ask and even harder to hear: “why are you, an employee, leaving the company?” Often, the answer is bad management and specifically, a terrible manager.
Regardless of the questions being asked, understanding employees is a vital part of being a good manager.
How to Become the “Good Manager”
So, what makes a good manager? There’s no simple answer to this question, however, that's not going to stop us from diving in. First, it helps to consider the functions of the business management organ as a whole.
- The management team must manage the business.
- High-level managers need to manage other managers.
- The rest of the staff and processes must also be managed.
With these three functions in mind, the good manager must consider how he or she can make a positive impact on each level and process. Fortunately, Gallup has conducted research on this, asking employees what they would like to see in their managers. Gallup then formulated four pillars for the “good” manager.
1. Show empathy and concern
The good manager is an empathetic manager. S/he will show interest in her employees, to encourage and influence happiness, and will demonstrate concern when need be. This means understanding your employees on a very human level. Workers aren’t and can’t be lifeless cogs in a machine.
Each person is unique, driven by their own motivations, having their own needs, and wanting to cultivate their own interests. As a manager, it might be tempting to shy away from these attributes. As a good manager, however, you should embrace them. By showing your employees concern, care, and interest, you will generate buy-in, respect, and appreciation.
2. Let Employees Know What’s Expected of Them
Sometimes managers come across as the enemy. They are out to criticize employees, to ruin their day, and even fire them. As a result, many employees are filled with self-doubt or even paranoia.
The good manager can ease this by setting clear expectations. Let employees know what you want. Don’t be ambiguous, make sure everything is clear and predictable. This will help employees relax and get to work.
3. Positive feedback and recognition for work well done
Continuing from the last point, another way to put your employees at ease is to provide positive feedback. You don’t have to hand out a literal trophy for every task well-completed. However, a quick “great job” or “I really like what you did with this” can go a long way. At the very least, employees will know that they are on the right track, which will help settle any self-doubts they might have.
Of course, when an employee really goes above and beyond, you should go above and beyond when recognizing them. Perhaps give them a bonus, or detail to them some of the things that you really liked. Maybe even give them an award.
4. Give employees a role that fits their abilities
Finally, put your employees in a position to succeed. Give them a job title and role that fits not just their experience, but also their abilities and interests. Feel free to ask your employees what they believe their skills are and have them share their interests.
Being a Good Manager Will Increase Productivity and Profitability
Gallup found another useful bit of information. The managers who embraced the above pillars and were ranked highly by their employees managed teams that ultimately outperformed in regard to both productivity and profitability.
At the end of the day, being a good manager means being a good, empathetic person who puts other people in a position to succeed. This, in turn, enables teams to strive for and secure success. Being a good manager is good in-and-of itself, but it’s great for the bottom line as well.
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