How to be a good manager
Susie Anderson-Sharkey talks about the qualities and behaviours needed to be a successful manager or boss
This issue I’m going to look at some of the vital qualities needed to be a good manager (or boss). It doesn’t matter what business you are in, these qualities are vital right across the board.
Firstly, it is imperative that as managers we listen to what our staff are saying to us. Don’t just sit and nod, or frown, or agree/disagree, but really listen to what they are trying to tell you. Very often what they don’t say is as important – or more important – than what they do say. So, take time, learn to read between the lines and really give them time to explain without looking at your watch, tapping your pen on the desk, scrolling though emails or jumping in to interrupt. Give them your undivided attention, whether it is for five minutes or 25 minutes, and let them know that what they are saying is important to you.
Remember, a good manager leads by example. If you don’t want grumpy staff, don’t be a grumpy manager. Set the tone and the staff will follow. We can all have off days, but your general mood should be steady, consistent and fair and, if you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on your staff. They are here to work for (and with) you, and they have their fair share of problems too. The staff shouldn’t have to be whispering to each other: “What kind of a mood is he/she in today?” If you think for a moment that that’s what your staff are saying then it’s time to do some soul searching and make appropriate changes. It really will make a huge difference to the whole atmosphere of your business.
Very often what they don’t say is as important – or more important – than what the do say. So learn to read between the lines
I mentioned the word fair. How often have we heard “that’s not fair”?
As a business manager we need to treat our staff fairly, and that doesn’t always mean treating them all the same. Let me give you an example. This is a real-life, current situation happening to someone I am acquainted with.
A member of staff has worked in this particular business for many years. It is a small business, and in this case the owner also happens to be the manager. The staff member found themselves in a truly life-changing situation that is going to impact hugely on their lives. The owner/manager chatted with the employee, assessed the situation and realised that ‘carry on as normal’ was not going to be an option. This individual told the staff member to take time off, put them in touch with professionals who could help them and he also made sure that the time off was on full pay. He gathered the other members of staff together, explained the situation and basically asked if they would take up the slack until the situation was resolved.
To my mind the boss/manager treated all the staff fairly; he gave help to the member of staff where and when it was needed and he also spoke to all the other members of staff so no one was left in the dark. I’m sure all of the staff realise that if they find themselves in a similar situation that the manager will treat them as fairly as he did that employee.
As a manager, give the staff room to grow and develop. This will not only help them, but it will help you too. Learn the art of delegation, give your staff ownership of an area of the business and they will feel valued and respected. A good manager doesn’t do it all themselves. He/she is wise in delegating various tasks, once you know, of course, that the individual is capable of the task. This may initially involve some extra training, which is time well invested in the staff as you will soon reap the benefits. Resist the urge to scratch the itch and micromanage.
Once you know they are able, leave them to get on with it and don’t jump in to try to help, look over their shoulder or constantly check the work has been done. Building trust is a two-way process.
From time to time I carry out random spot checks, but I’ve learned that the staff work best when they are left to get on with what they have been entrusted to do; and don’t forget to praise and thank them for a job well done.
There are many qualities necessary to be a good manager and I have only been able to list a few in this article which will hopefully give you a starting point if you
are a new manager.
So, to summarise: Listen, lead by example, set the mood, be fair, don’t micromanage. Good luck to all my fellow managers who try to steer the ship in what can be, at times, very rough waters.