How to Be a Better Manager: 8 Areas to Improve

Manager leading a meeting

Managing a group of employees is no walk in the park. It’s a skill that you can master with experience, but it’s tricky at the beginning. You’re managing workloads, schedules, money, and emotions for other people, as well as yourself. You’ll have to balance keeping your employees happy with driving and enforcing critical business goals. If you manage effectively, though, employees should find happiness in accomplishing those goals.

Ineffective management can cause workers to be upset, uninspired, or overwhelmed. As a result, their output will suffer, and more pressure will fall on you to make up for the loss. Manage strategically and meticulously from the get-go to build a self-sustaining, independent team.

Here are some areas you can focus on to help you be a better manager:

1. Determine the best way to manage each employee

Every employee is unique, which means you’ll likely have to manage each one differently. Some workers may respond well to a hands-on approach, while others may like their space. Some may prefer a weekly one-on-one session to discuss tasks, while others may want an email summary of what they’re doing well and what they can improve. Learning the best methods for reaching and teaching employees will help you get the most out of them. Trial and error will be involved, but it never hurts to ask employees what they need from you to excel at their jobs.

2. Set the right example and remain steady

A significant part of being a boss is setting the right example for your staff. If you’re working hard, showing that you care, and following through on your promises, you can expect your team members to do the same. In a perfect world, everyone will follow your example. Even in our imperfect world, the vast majority of professionals will follow the lead of their bosses.

Additionally, you always want to hold it together, regardless of how hectic or intense things are behind the scenes. A steady impression on your end will keep your staff calm. If you’ve ever been part of a sports team before, you know the difference between a coach who loses control and one who remains calm no matter the circumstances. Losing control shows weakness, while calmness reflects confidence.

3. Be positive and give praise

Your staff will always appreciate positivity and praise. Managers often get so caught up in what’s lacking or what’s next that they forget to remember what is currently going well. When your team signs a new account or a digital marketing initiative doubles your web traffic, let the individuals responsible know that their efforts are greatly appreciated. Positive recognition can go a long way in energizing employees to continue to put forth their best work. It will send a message to the entire office that you’ll highlight and reward outstanding work. Learn more about how to show your team you appreciate them.

4. Consistently self-reflect

Take the time to reflect as a manager to determine what’s working and what’s not. Consider devoting devote 30 minutes each week to reflection.  Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Am I getting everything I can out of my employees?
  • Are employees accepting the policies that I put in place and the standards that I set?
  • Is there any training needed that can improve efficiency?
  • Is anyone lagging behind?
  • Am I asking my employees to do too much?

5. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes

An old and always trustworthy trick is to walk a mile in your employees’ shoes (figuratively, of course). Chances are, you were once at their level. So, from the perspective of a subordinate, are you a good manager? Are you being fair? Are you devoting the proper amount of time to developing your employees? Assuming you’ve been a part of the workforce for a considerable time, you’ve probably come across bad managers and good ones. Try to adopt good qualities and steer clear of the bad traits you’ve experienced from past leadership.         

6. Be accessible

Whether intentional or not, managers can be a little intimidating. Employees often assume a manager is doing something very important, so they’ll hesitate to ask questions. You don’t want that. Be sure to communicate your availability for questions, whether it be in person, over email, or within a specialized company direct messaging system. An open-door policy is an excellent accessibility option. Read also: 4 Tips for Improving Communication in Your Workplace

7. Be a leader, not a dictator

Being a manager has its privileges, but don’t assume the title inherently warrants everyone’s attention and discipline. More now than ever, you have to earn the respect of your subordinates, as younger generations do not place as much importance on company loyalty as past generations. They do, however, value workplace culture and environment. So, if they don’t like the culture you’ve created as a manager, they may not stick around.  

Younger generations appreciate feedback and are commonly anxious to climb the ladder. These characteristics can help you motivate and lead by example. If you express the desire to get results by deliberately setting your employees up for success, your workers will likely respect you.

8. Establish a support system

You may be the ultimate decisionmaker for your team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask others for input. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a superior or a trusted mentor. You probably have one or two team members that you trust to answer questions when you’re too busy or away from your desk. Establishing a support system can remove stress from your job, making managing easier.

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