Being an effective manager is a complicated job: You’re part strategist, part coach, part counselor and part tactician.
Because your employees are your most important assets, it's crucial to understand your staff and support them. While not everyone is a born manager, being aware of the qualities that separate the good ones from the great ones helps you bring out the best in your team.
Are you the most effective manager you could be? Are there actions you can take to improve?
Here are nine ways to demonstrate true leadership:
1. Value your employees
Underestimating the effort put in by staff members and the value they add can lead to unhappy, demotivated and underperforming team members. It can also lead to a high staff turnover rate. Make sure you appreciate the role employees play on your team and the contributions they make daily to your firm.
2. Express appreciation
Effective managers show their gratitude to team members for a job well done. A simple thank-you can make a big difference to many employees. It’s also important to provide positive feedback, whether it’s one on one, during a meeting or in a handwritten note. Expressing gratitude can help with retention, motivation and productivity within your team.
3. Set a good example
Demonstrate the behavior you expect of your team members. If you’re kind, arrive to meetings on time and meet your deadlines, it’s a lot more likely your team will do the same.
Similarly, managers who display qualities such as honesty, collaboration, creativity, innovation and dedication, to name a few, will likely inspire those qualities in those they supervise.
Delegating accomplishes a lot more than taking a task off your plate. Giving team members projects outside of their usual scope at work shows that you trust them to handle important tasks, giving them confidence in their abilities. It also builds skills throughout the team and keeps team members engaged by expanding their abilities. As an added bonus, skills development is an excellent retention strategy.
Just remember that when you do delegate work, you need to trust that your team can handle important tasks. In other words, don’t micromanage the process.
5. Communicate clearly
If employees don’t understand what’s expected of them, you’re not an effective manager. Clearly communicate your expectations for each person in both their jobs and projects, and make sure everyone knows what success looks like to you.
It’s also important to be transparent in communications. If employees believe they are being misled or information is being withheld, it can lead to a breakdown of trust and undermine the employer/employee relationship.
6. Know your team
Get to know your employees. What motivates them and what do they really value in their job? If you find out that an employee wants to move up in the organization, for example, you may be able to provide a mentor or training.
Others may be looking for flexible hours, more challenging projects or improved software to be able to do their job more efficiently. Discovering what motivates each person on your team is a great way to improve the overall work environment and retain team members.
7. Resolve issues
If two members of the team have fallen out or just cannot see eye to eye, you’ll have to mediate the conflict. You might first ask them to try to find a way to fix their differences themselves. But if that doesn’t work, you need to insert yourself into the process. Encourage the two people to find common ground for the sake of the project or company, and make it clear that not resolving the issue isn’t an option.
For the sake of overall performance and productivity, it is important to address such situations quickly and effectively — before they spiral out of control.
8. Listen closely
As a manager, you need to be able to listen to what your employees have to say, whether it’s a work matter or something more personal. Either way, it’s important your team feels you are willing to listen and support them in any way you can.
9. Never stop learning and networking
Everyone needs to constantly develop their skills and work contacts, and you should, as well, if you want to be an effective manager. Whether it’s understanding the latest software your team is using or maintaining key work relationships, don’t become complacent. You’ll make yourself more marketable and set a good example for your team by keeping your technical and networking skills current.
Managing people takes a diverse range of skills, but aspiring leaders can acquire them — and these efforts are often rewarded with increased employee performance, loyalty and retention.