There’s no doubt that being a manager comes with a lot of responsibility. But many people are asked to jump into managerial shoes and run a division, or even a small team of fellow workers, without any experience. It’s no wonder so many people flounder in their first manager’s position.
The good news is that learning how to be a better manager comes with experience, so the more you manage, the better you’ll become! You can also follow these tips to give yourself a leg up ahead of time.
TALK TO AND LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Firstly, get in the habit of talking to and, more importantly, listening to your employees. Your team members are not just automatons that boost company productivity or provide services. They are living and breathing members of your organization and are what will make or break your company.
It’s important that you get their perspective on issues and ask them if there’s any way you can improve things. As a manager, you have two jobs: make high-level decisions for your team members or your company and make things easier for your workers. The second part is arguably more important than the first.
Indeed, employees will be more than happy to identify “pain points” or areas where their experience could be improved. As a manager, for instance, you can update the software for the computers they use, be more flexible with your scheduling, or look into pay raises next quarter.
A more comprehensive version of this idea is communicate. In fact, it’s a good idea to over-communicate as a manager, because you can never be too clear whether it comes to giving out directives, handing out feedback, or praising an employee for their performance.
Your team members will always appreciate more communication, so long as you aren’t overly redundant or criticizing. If you’re ever in doubt, talk to your employees and ask them if there’s anything they’d like to know.
ACKNOWLEDGE ALL SUCCESS
Human beings thrive on positive reinforcement far better than negative reinforcement. While it’s true that the latter may yield immediate changes, bitterness may well up with repeated negative enforcement.
Instead, it’s a much better idea to be aggressive and how you acknowledge all the successes of your employees. Go out of your way to point out when someone does a great job, boosts productivity, or makes a critical sale. You should also consider setting up employee of the month programs or special rewards and contests to motivate better performance across the board.
The point of all this is to make your workplace a pleasant place to be and inspire your employees to do better. Your workers will try harder if they know that their success will be rewarded and acknowledged, compared to if they are always just trying to avoid a reprimand.
Similarly, it’s a great idea to learn the actual names of all your employees, or at least those folks directly underneath you. People will be more motivated to work for a manager they love if they actually feel that the manager in question knows and understands them. Again, your employees are integral parts of your organization, not robots.
Get to know everybody’s names and even strike up friendships when appropriate. Don’t get too close, of course, since you still need to be far enough away to make hard decisions when necessary. But there’s no reason to be a distant boss when you could be even more effective and personable.
MAKE CHANGES WHEN NECESSARY
A leader or manager needs to have the spine to make decisions when necessary. In fact, decisiveness is one of the critical personality traits that any good manager ought to have. A classic and much-disliked example of this is firing an employee.
No one wants to fire one of their workers. But it is sometimes necessary, and it’s the job of a good manager to handle business when things get too bad to fix. Rather than letting the problem fester like an open wound, you need to have the guts to make the final decision and cut an employee from your organization once things become clearly irreparable.
But being decisive when it comes to changes in your business extends to other things as well. You might need to make immediate changes to boost employee performance, or you might need to change how your business operates in terms of its manufacturing or customer service processes.
The point is to be decisive and make those changes as soon as they become necessary instead of staying wishy-washy and refusing to make a decision in fear of making the wrong one.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
A good manager always leads by example. This is not only good for you and your own work performance, but it’s also good for employee motivation.
For instance, it’s one thing to demand perfect attendance from your employees. It’s another thing entirely to demand perfect attendance and never observe it yourself. Your employees will hardly be motivated to show up on time when the boss doesn’t have the self-discipline or company respect to do it themselves.
Similarly, you need to practice good business ethics and responsibilities in order to show your employees that moral behavior does pay off. People like to follow a leader that they can believe in, and if you don’t lead by example, your employees won’t have believe in you.
Plus, let’s be honest: no one likes a hypocrite.
GIVE SOLID FEEDBACK
Lastly, master the art of giving feedback. This is trickier than simply pointing out all the ways an employee could do their job better. Instead, it’s a delicate balance between offering positive reinforcement and firmly but understandingly coaching a worker in ways they can improve.
Feedback is an important job responsibility for any manager if they want their employees to be the best they can. However, be sure to do this in an overall positive and reaffirming way so you don’t hurt your employees’ feelings or make them feel misunderstood or, worse, unappreciated.