5 Ways To Go From Being A Good Manager To A Great One

Over the years, I’ve had many jobs working for many different companies.  With those, I’ve had a lot of different managers.  I’ve had some bad ones (we’ll save those for another time), some good ones, and a few great ones.  Most of the time, the differences between being a good manager and a great one are little things.  If you want to be a great manager, here’s a few things you should do.

  1. Let employees find their way.  I had two managers that had a lot of the same traits.  They were both very effective.  They both looked out for their employees.  They both were visionary and led by example.  But, I would only classify one of them as great and the other was merely ‘good’.  The ‘good’ manager, you see, was very task oriented.  He would lay out what he wanted done and outline how he wanted me to get there.  The great manager, on the other hand, would provide me with the end goal and pretty much say “Go.”  In many ways, that was scary, but it was also great because it let me develop my own plan and my own vision.  Side tip: The great manager will allow for employees to create their own path, but will stay involved enough so that they can step in before the employee heads over a cliff.
  2. Listen.  Managers are busy.  I get that.  But, if an employee is coming to you for something, whether it be a problem with a colleague, a question on a project, or anything else, they deserve your full attention. If you’re keeping one eye on what the employee and the other on your e-mail, you aren’t being a great manager to that person.  Do you have to drop everything?  No, of course not.  But, if you can’t give an employee your full attention, kindly let them know and schedule a time when you can.  They’ll appreciate that.  Then, just make sure you give them that attention at the scheduled time.
  3. Stand behind your employees.  I had a colleague who struggled with a difficult customer, who couldn’t be pleased.  After awhile, the boss stepped in and brokered the relationship, observing all communications and interactions.  Eventually, the boss realized that there was indeed a problem, and fired…..the customer.  This was a tough decision, and many would question the thought process behind turning away a paying customer.  But, it let my colleague, as well as everybody else on the team, know that the manager was going to stand up for them.  It also let us know that we had better do good work, because trust me, the manager did know the difference, and wouldn’t have hesitated had the ‘problem’ been with the employee.
  4. Play favorites.  Playing favorites can be a sure-fire way to divide a team, so why do I have it here?  Read on.  I had a manager who, when I left her office, made me feel like I was the most valuable member on her team and that the projects I was working on were the most important things going on within the team.  She never said those things or anything close, but her general interest, enthusiasm, and support gave me that impression.  As it did everybody else on the team, as she gave that same level of input and encouragement to each person that worked for her.  Hint: You have to be genuinely interested in each of your employees and what they’re working on to pull this off.  Attempts to fake it will be transparent and you’ll end up losing the respect of your employees.
  5. Think about your employees every day.  You may or may not interact with each of your employees on a daily basis.  Even if you do, interaction isn’t what I’m talking about.  I had a manager who told me that he would think about every single one of his employees at some point throughout the day.  Even if was just for a brief moment, the ability to reflect on each person on his team kept him connected to them, and in the long run, the employees will sense this.

The things I’ve just mentioned are, by and large, intangible things.  I’m not even sure that they can be picked up on or worked on.  When it comes to these characteristics of being a great manager, is it a case of ‘either you have it in you or you don’t’?

What are things you’ve seen out of great managers?

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5 thoughts on “5 Ways To Go From Being A Good Manager To A Great One

  1. One of things I really appreciate is no micro-managing… which relates to your No 1. This is a biggie for me. Let me do it my own way. Just because it is different, it doesn't mean it is wrong.

  2. I hate when my manager has never done my job. If you've never actually done your employee's job, spend some time learning what they actually do.

  3. Standing by employees is really big. When a manager doesn't stand behind his/her employees, it can not only impact motivation, but could lead to that person leaving the organization – which might cause bigger disruptions. Part of being a manager entails managing both upward and downward, and engendering trust in both directions.

  4. I agree with Ashley and Squirrelers on backing up your team. Ain't no one going to pick on my peeps.
    I make it a point to visit and say hello every day, if possible early in the morning.

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