January 24, 2020
The Makings of a Good Manager
Sure, there is a long list of the qualities and factors that count towards making a good manager. However, we would like to define it from a broad term perspective – specifically based on two schools of management. To be a great manager, you have to be good at either one of the following:
- Management Processes and
- People Skills.
… Everything else falls under these two categories.
Our global education system does little in the way of teaching people skills. That needs to change. There are people in the world who are in fact working on it. Some countries and institutions are making deliberate efforts to focus on people/soft skills. (Kudos to those people)
However, the aforementioned are not the only two things that are worth learning. On that note, a lot of things have changed at a very fundamental level about all-things-management. For instance, you remember the old-school management mantra: ‘Just Do It’.
Based on the Just Do It analogy, managers believed in dealing with day to day obstacles at workplaces as they showed up. The idea was to work in a clutter-free manner (* now known to many as part of modern Agile work methodologies).
However, soon afterward, many problems started arising as things, businesses and technology evolved. ‘Just Do It’ is no longer applicable despite a 24-hour daily time span, a lot of things change quickly. If you are going to rely on your instincts and the possibility of “Dealing” with stuff as it pops up, there is a very real possibility of tanking the entire project.
This post focuses on modern management principles. I have made a deliberate effort to make the decorum of this write-up coincide with old school methodologies. Truth is, there is a lot of new stuff here that might take time to sink in at your end.
What Makes Good Manager?
We have highlighted 14 elements that make a good manager:
1. Company Culture
You might not have heard of this one very often. Surprised to find this to be at the top of our list? Having a sense of company culture can make or break your place as a successful manager. Let’s just say this is the secret sauce to the recipe of the perfect mix for a great manager.
If you as a manager can align your managerial processes with it to uplift the company culture; you have hacked most of your how-to-be-a-great-manager already. It includes all the shared values, beliefs and practices by the company.
2. Lead by example
This goes for anyone and everyone, not just for managers—but especially for managers.
“Actions speak louder than words,” they say, and rightly so!
Effective managers ought to demonstrate strong work ethics they wish to see in his/her employees too. This one should go without saying.
As a manager, you have to, not only create accountability in yourself but also demonstrate it yourself. No matter the consequences of the task performed take responsibility for whatever happens—good or bad.
4. Sustained Focus
Over long haul work, the team’s focus can deter and diverge in face of obstacles or simply because the project is too long. As a manager, it is up to you to keep your team focused and their attention converged. This goes especially for any manager running an agile team with sprint work.
Stay focused! Get the work done efficiently and fruitfully.
5. Working together works
Work on cultivating a family environment among your employees. Create a sense of belonging to the group. This would ensure stronger teamwork. If you pace your work forwards as a team with the motto “working together works” it will make your workplace a home away from home for your employees.
Everyone’s work would mean to stand essential and they would put in the required effort to get it done—knowing that without everyone’s part the project would fail.
Angela Lee Duckworth explains Grit as the power of passion and perseverance for long term goals and achievements. She counts it as one of the most important elements to succeed at anything individually. Since, as a manager, you are in charge of so many others, having a high level of Grit would always be a requisite.
Pursue your short and long term goals with your team. Cultivate hope in case of setbacks! Display courage and resilience.
7. Impart Recognition of Good Work
Every one of your employees has something that contributes positively to your work.
A little encouragement from the manager can go a long way. So be generous when appreciating someone’s work — be it little or big.
Impart recognition and support whenever possible to urge people on with their great work and efforts.
8. Grasp of the Entire Business
Your employees would definitely look up to you with some reverence and admiration. You’d be their role model if you have a grasp on the entire business-related activities. You can easily guide them and answer their questions with expertise.
Of course, this has other benefits as well. With a better understanding of the work you are doing for your company and employees, you’d be able to take your company to new heights. Who doesn’t like working for a thriving company, eh?
This would display your passion and high knowledge of the field for the work you are doing, possibly inspiring your subordinates too.
The company or the team you are running is not constituted of machines or work robots! As simple as it sounds, it is quintessential to remember that they are humans. Your team and company are, at the end of the day, comprised of these people who have very “human” day-to-day problems.
As a manager, you are, in a general sense acting as their guardian. Be as empathetic as you can while being an assertive manager. Understand their problems and try to work with them. This in turn with earns your employee loyalty and gratitude which would turn to better work for you later on.
Show your team that you really care!
10. Unafraid to make Hard Decision
One of the toughest things that fall on the shoulders of a manager is taking difficult decisions. This is the moment when a manager shows his or her mettle! Stiffen up that upper lip and get into it – with wisdom!
Your team would look up to you if you are able to keep your head straight in face of adversary, and a plethora of factors to be counted in for a decision. Sometimes the decision making is easy but executing that decision is tougher for varying reasons. But you as a leader have to do what is right and needed.
Inspire creativity in others through your own. Practice and learn how to solve problems with innovative and intuitive ideas. This can make your life easier and well, possibly for your team members too. Who doesn’t like a little ease in life?
It could be very easy to get wrapped up in your own mind and ideas. Make sure to share your ideas and thoughts with your team openly and honestly. You as a manager have to, of course, keep some decision to yourself. However, it would be best if you take into consideration your team’s work, experience, and expertise too.
Working in collaboration would increase your experience not only as a manager but would add to your people skills too.
13. Sense of Humor
This one is a cherry on top sort of quality. Working for long hours can get stressful. Having a manager who can add a fun little pun here or there or make light of a taxing situation is a remarkable trait in managers.
This will create a more approachable persona for the manager too among the employees which are again always helpful in running a successful and well-integrated team.
14. Esprit de corps
Create “group spirit” in your team as you go! You would have to utilize a lot of the other traits on this list to get here. Keep a positive outlook and manner towards your employees and watch it as you, your team and your company have a fecund era.
“A leader is the one, who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way,” John C. Maxwell says.
They teach you the professional stuff at the school of management but what about the little underlying implicit things that really matter? They may mention them in the passing but they make all the difference. You as a manager might have to inculcate a lot of things in your work as you go. Be a little flexible. Learn as you go. Add what needs be and delete what is toxic to your work and employees under you. You are in a position that makes you highly accountable and hold you responsible.
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