What Does it Take to Be a Good Manager?

What makes a good manager or leader? What type of manager would you want to work for? As a new manager, what can you do to ensure your own success? These are some of the questions I will be addressing throughout this article. I know we all have different thoughts on what type of management style creates a comfortable atmosphere and one you, as an individual, would like to work for. Though many of us like a manager who may be “nice”, or will “give good reviews,” this does not necessarily make for a good leader or manager. Many times it is not the person’s fault if they are not good at managing a team, often it is just because they did not receive effective training and support to succeed.

Let’s look at the definitions of manager and leader for a moment. The definition of manager per Merriam Webster is: “a person who directs a team”; now let’s look at the word direct. Direct means: to carry out the organizing, energizing and supervising of.” So, in essence, a manager is one who is to carry out the organizing, energizing and supervising of a team. To me this means that the manager is just supposed to guide and mentor us as we each work toward the common goals of the organization. So many mangers just yell out orders without considering that the teams are doing the actual work and that it is their job to ensure that the end goals are met. In one article I read, by Beth Mirza, the following quote makes so much sense: We can’t do for people what they are capable of doing for themselves. Give employees the information they need to make decisions-remove ignorance as an excuse-and then follow up”. Now let’s look at the word leader. Per Merriam Webster, a leader is “a person who has commanding authority or influence”. In my opinion this is saying that the manager is one who has the authority to dictate to us what we need to do, but in order to truly influence people; you have to gain their trust and respect. Even with all the different styles of management, there are some key components I feel every manager should have to be successful and retain high quality employees who will want to work for them. Manager and Leader will be used synonymously in this article since to be a good manager you must also be a good leader.

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Interpersonal Relationships: This goes both ways. You need to help build the relationships and respect between teammates as well as ensuring your relationships’ with your employees by showing respect, trust, caring about who your employees are as a person and their needs, and giving your full attentiveness. I would have to say that most importantly, you must be a “people-person” and it needs to be apparent in your actions.

Communication: This one is a “biggie” and often is a sore subject with many employees. A good manager will keep all their employees in the loop about any business decisions or changes being made at all times, especially when it affects their role in the organization. Even more importantly, when applicable, a manager should ask for their employees input or ideas prior to decisions being made. Many business decisions are ones which your own employees may be able to offer good suggestions or even a different view that was not taken into consideration. Managers should not only communicate in writing, but should be visibly seen, approachable (preferably “open door policy”), and actively interact with their teams.

Building Your Teams: It is very important, in a management position, to be able to effectively lead your teams and give them the encouragement to be successful and to help you achieve your business goals. When a team knows they have strong support and leadership they tend to be more productive, creative and are more effective.

Understand The Financial Aspects Of The Business: As a manager it is your responsibility to be sure you understand the mission statement set forth by your organization, the financial goals of the organization and be able to effectively measure and document your teams’ progresses as the goals are completed.

Create A Positive Morale And Recognize Good Work: As a good manager you are expected to provide a good working environment and your employees have a need to be shown recognition for a job well done. If an employee feels good about their environment, knows what is expected, recognized for their hard work, they will be happy employees and want to work hard to please their manager.

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Lead By Example: To be a good manager, you must set a good example for your teams.

Help People Grow And Develop: To me this one is important. All employees need encouragement and support to further their education and give them personal goals to shoot for. Some employees may not be happy or productive in their present position and it does not necessarily mean they are not potentially very good employees. The employee might just need someone to encourage them to learn the necessary skills that will allow them to move into a better position or one that fits their personality. The manager can offer online classes (if budget allows) to earn certifications, send the employee to seminars or workshops in area of interest, or just supporting them and being flexible if they are already going to an accredited college to pursue a higher degree.

There are many more “key ingredients” to the making of a good manager, but these are just some of the main components that are necessary for retaining the respect of your employees. No matter what style of management you perform and are comfortable with just remember to be attentive to what your employees need from you so they can be successful as well.

During my research I had also found a great website which offers online training to help you in achieving your goal of being that “great manager” and one that everyone would be happy to work for. The website (www.mindtools.com) is an excellent reference for people who are new in a management position or just need to refresh their skills.

To be a good manager it is imperative to have the initial training you need to be a success and continued training for the long haul of your career. This website is a great place to start or use in conjunction with classroom training. Mindtools.com has various price levels depending on what is affordable for you or the organization. As an individual you can access quite a bit of information for free. You have full access to many articles on Leadership Skills, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Project Management, Practical Creativity, Time Management, Stress Management, Information Skills, Communication Skills and Memory Improvement. As an example, under the Leadership Skills tab, the sections available consist of: Introduction, Leadership Motivation Test, Leadership Motivation Tools, Information Gathering, Building Expert Power, Task Allocation, Leadership Styles, Conflict Resolution, Mission and Vision Statements, and Successful Delegation. If you pay for the full membership called the Mind Tools Career Excellence Club, you have access to tons more information including forums, over 350 skill building articles, downloadable training packs, regular coaching and much more. The beginning membership for an individual has a 1st month cost of only $1.00 to try out, then it is $19.00/month thereafter or for even more resources you can pay their $27.00/month membership.

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Mind Tools also has a corporate package which will give you full access for management and productivity skills training. Some of the items included in this package include: Structured Skills Development (adapting to individual needs), Rich Resources (developing in-depth management competence), Expert Guidance across key skills areas, Support from a global community of management excellence, Vibrant and dynamic environment with fresh daily stimulus, Full membership support and an Exceptional cost-effective package. This package is only $199/year or less (depending on how many employees) and is an excellent way to help your managers and leaders keep their skills up-to-date. This corporate package has an available free trial period if you wish to check it out and see how it can help your organization.

As you can see, being a good manager actually takes work, initiative and constant education to truly be successful in this career. Is being a good manager your passion? If so then remember only you are truly in control of your own career; don’t wait for others to offer the training you desire, just go out and get it!

Sources:

“Essential Skills For An Excellent Career”, accessed 12/20/2008,

Mind Tools Ltd. Copyright 1995-2008. http://www.mindtools.com

“Seven tips For Management Success”, by Susan M. Heathfield, accessed 12/20/2008.

http://humanresources.about.com/cs/managementissues/qt/mgmtsuccess.htm