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What makes a good manager?

Posted by Claire Beveridge on Jul 3rd, 2015 | Productivity

Crunch | What makes a good manager?

The gaffer, the governor, top dog or head-honcho – whatever you like to call them, managers play a pivotal role in dictating whether we succeed or fail. Everyone has worked with managers (unless you’ve always been the bigwig, in which case well done you) and everyone has an opinion on whether a particular manager is good or bad at their job.

With over 5 million managers across the UK there are bound to be some conflicting leadership styles scattered across the country. One thing we can hopefully all agree on is that a good manager will always bring out the best in an employee. But how do they do this?

Staff morale

High staff morale is the hallmark of a successful manager. Getting to know the people you’ll be responsible for, listening to their concerns and treating them like actual human beings will all go a long way in keeping morale high.

Of course, raising morale isn’t as simple or binary as checking in with your charges once in a while. High morale is a consequence of hard work and support in all different forms – so let’s take a look at some of them in more detail.

Engages employees

A good manager will build a relationship by finding methods to connect and openly communicate with you. After all, there’s nothing better than being spoken to like a human rather than a mindless drone.

No one likes to have their boss breathing down their neck all the time. Giving an employee the freedom and respect to be autonomous will pro-actively encourage engagement. It’s not fun to be micromanaged and, as long as performance standards are met, this autonomy approach will pay dividends for employee engagement.

A survey of over seven million employees by Aon Hewitt found that the highest methods of gaining employee engagement were by offering career opportunities, good performance management, solid company reputation, pay and open communication.

An example of a good managing style would be to openly discuss career paths with an employee via a well-structured development plan or communicate the company vision accurately and honestly – both these tactics should help to bolster employee engagement, a key factor in a successful business.

Builds trust

Feeling like you’ve been lied to, or duped isn’t a pleasant feeling – especially in the workplace. I’ve worked with managers throughout my career who have claimed ignorance or naivety about a situation, when you know they’re lying and they haven’t admitted their mistake. Did I trust that manager? Never again. Did I have respect for that manager? Not a chance in hell.

According to a University of Florida study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, one of the primary reasons employees start to misbehave is that they believe their supervisors are being unfair.

Be honest and be truthful. Senses and emotions can often be heightened in the workplace and employees can sniff out a lie faster than a cat can sniff out cream.

A good manager will act with competence. If you begin meddling in a department that you have no knowledge of or mistakenly give off an air that you don’t know how to do your job properly, you’ll struggle to find employees who will respect you.

A great example on how to build trust is set the employee an achievable expectation – meeting a deadline or hitting a target for example and then support them to reach this via coaching and developing.

However, don’t promise something you can’t follow through on. There is nothing worse than continually letting down an employee. This will, without a doubt, lead to a lack of trust and motivation.

Inspires and motivates

A good leader is one who inspires with a bold, specific and consistent vision. Someone who actively promotes positive behaviour will inspire others to do so.

Harvard Business School found that “most companies have it all wrong. They don’t have to motivate their employees. They have to stop demotivating them. Happy employees need no external motivation—they motivate themselves and each other.”

An excellent manager will inspire and motivate employees to be the best version of themselves. A great example of this is to show employees the meaning behind their jobs. Explain the ‘why’ behind what their job function is, how this benefits the business and give the employee a sense of meaning.

Leads, doesn’t direct

Managing and leading can be very different. Managing can seem very direct and end in a “you do as I say” mindset. Don’t tell people what to do, lead them.

Think you’re being too direct with employees? An example on how to lead is to ask questions instead of directly telling employees what to do. This will allow employees to figure out which paths to take and make plans for themselves. Another example would be to encourage ideas and guide employees to find solutions to their own problems.

Achieves respect

A 2014 study by global research company ORC International showed that one third of employees felt they did not have a good relationship with their manager. The same study also showed that many managers miss the little things like saying ‘thank you’. And as we know, a little politeness goes a long way.

An example, aside from saying the obvious please or thank you, is to say hello to people, praise achievements or make conversation with employees. Showing a polite level of interest in your team is a great way of achieving respect.

Be someone who don’t openly moan or complain, for example try and be positive or see the best in situations. A good manager should be the voice of maturity in a business, not a negative influence.

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