What Exceptional Managers Do Differently
Exceptional managers can make a huge difference for employees and companies alike. They can make the difference between an employee quitting or sticking with the team, and great managers help encourage employee productivity, creativity, engagement, and innovation. While anyone can learn how to become a great manager, managers need to understand the key characteristics of excellent management and how to improve their management styles.
1. Ensure Proper Training
Employees need proper training to excel at their current jobs. Employees may take three to six months to learn and adapt to a new job. Employees moving into new positions, either because they have been promoted or achieved new levels of productivity, may need longer to adapt.
Employees may also need the training to move up into those new positions. Ninety-four percent of employees note that they would stay with a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. They are looking for additional learning and training opportunities to help them achieve their goals and advancement in their future careers. Effective managers provide employees with the training they need to achieve those goals.
Communication is essential across solid teams. Managers who can effectively handle their teams focus on communicating: setting clear expectations, letting employees know how they are doing, and ensuring that expectations remain aligned across the group.
Great managers also do not make communication a one-way street. The best managers ensure that communication goes both ways, with an open-door strategy that allows team members to get to them when they have concerns or challenges.
3. Adjust The Style
Different people naturally require different management styles. Some people respond well to a more authoritarian manner, which may lay things out exactly as the manager intends for them to be and require team members to fall into line. Others may respond best to a more democratic management style, which allows employees to have a fair say about each decision. Furthermore, depending on their unique needs, some employees may require more careful handling. Great managers get a feel for the needs of employees and determine their management style by situation and individual, rather than choosing a single style and insisting that employees fall in line.
4. Work Alongside Your Employees
At one time or another, most people have had a manager who does not do much more than manage: the manager who sits in the back of a retail store and «counts the cash» while everyone else closes up or the manager who imposes tight deadlines on his team but never seems to work the same high levels of overtime. Many employees will carry high levels of resentment toward those managers and may not perform at their best because of it.
Great managers, on the other hand, will dig in alongside the members of their teams. They are willing to do the «dirty work» when required. While they might undoubtedly know how to delegate, they do not demand that their team members do the tasks they simply do not want to do themselves.
5. Know Your Team
Great managers often get to know the members of their team very personally. That does not mean they cross boundaries or get involved in their personal lives. It does, however, mean that those great managers genuinely take the time to get to know their team members. They learn their team member’s strengths and weaknesses (which makes it easier to assign or delegate tasks as needed since they know which team members are best at specific assignments and which ones will struggle with them). They learn what best motivates those employees. They also take the time to get to know their employees’ personalities so that they can have them work with those who best complement their approach, and they work to make sure that all employees feel like they belong.
6. Support The Team
Poor managers will quickly assign blame to team members when things get out of control. They may refuse to go to bat for them when things are complex, but instead, they may cite things «out of their control» or refuse to acknowledge the places in which they could potentially make life easier for their teams.
On the other hand, great managers will provide their team members with a high level of support. They will fight on their behalf, whether helping them get the resources they need or supporting them when things go wrong. They will also offer credit to team members when they get things right or provide a new innovative idea rather than taking credit for it on their own.
7. Reward Accomplishments
Often, managers fall into the habit of chastising employees when they get things wrong but fail to notice when they are getting things right. They might grow frustrated with slow progress on a project but fail to offer any acknowledgment at all when an employee manages to complete an assignment early. Great managers, however, are aware of the effort employees put in, and they celebrate those accomplishments. That does not just mean achievements directly related to the job; it is undoubtedly essential to celebrate and reward employees for a job well done. Great managers also note when employees accomplish goals that will move them closer to their professional plans, including completing a new degree or certification, they make sure the employee receives an acknowledgment for their efforts.
8. Treat Employees Well and Encourage Excellence
Employees are more than just cogs in a wheel, even in a corporate environment. Each employee is an individual with individual struggles and challenges that may change their performance. Great managers will encourage excellence in their employees, but they also understand that employees as people have to come first. They recognize that an employee might not perform as well while ill or that trouble at home, from sick kids or animals to repairs on the house, can impact employee performance in the office. They offer their employees grace and support to help them move through that process.
Great managers also understand that employees will make human errors. While mistakes can prove challenging to manage, they are rarely insurmountable. Great managers work with their employees to resolve mistakes successfully without issuing punishment for minor mistakes.
9. Be Highly Inclusive
It is easy to let someone get left out in the shuffle, especially in cases where the employee is, in some way, different from the others. Great managers, however, are highly inclusive. They choose team bonding activities accessible to all employees, use inclusive language and translation when needed, and work within their employees’ unique cultures and needs.
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