New Year… New Management Style

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

As you know, this is the time of year people tend to take a close look at themselves and make a long laundry list of “resolutions” they intend to tackle. I realize people don’t change overnight, but one of the things I’d like to work on as a manager is the way I lead my staff. What are some best practices for being a “good” manager?

Dear, “Mindful Manager,”

I love the fact that you are making a conscious effort to improve or enhance your management style… it’s a new year and a perfect time for a new start! I bet most readers wish THEIR manager would pick up on this positive idea – hats off to you, my dear!

I’ve tried to think back to my personal experience with managers (and even did a little research to throw in some other ideas) and came up with the following list (in no particular order, of course!):

  1. Be open and honest…Even admit your faults – I think a manager who, as difficult as it may be, can openly admit his or her faults to employees will immediately gain a whole new level of respect. Like a good parent, a manager can guide employees by teaching from their mistakes. When things have gone wrong in business or poor decisions were made, the consequences taught good lessons that others can (and should) learn from.
  2. Be yourself – Sure, you need to be professional, be accountable for your team, and maintain your leadership role… but during team-building events or outside of the office, be yourself. Hang out with your team, talk about your personal interests, share funny things you’ve seen or heard. You don’t always have to be perceived as the straight-laced dominant figure that everyone sees at work. Loosen up… your staff will appreciate it.
  3. Call people on the carpet – I know this sounds harsh, but the fact is, sometimes employees get into heated discussions or let their emotions get the best of them… and they could use a good kick in the pants. As their manager, pull these people aside and point out their behavior and how it can be detrimental to their success if it continues. Sort of the “tough love” approach… but necessary.
  4. Be complimentary – Everybody likes to receive a compliment every now and then. Share your appreciation for a job well done, salute the skills of your staff, and celebrate achievements. A good manager surrounds himself with a team of talent. A great manager hires people who are better at certain things than they are. Don’t be threatened by this… give yourself a pat on the back for putting together such a great team!
  5. Help strengthen the weaknesses – The last thing you want to do as a manager is set up your employees for failure. If they have areas of weakness, help them improve. It may not be a “fun” process, but by providing the right guidance and tools, you can help your team overcome challenges so they are better equipped, well rounded, and more productive for you!
  6. Stand behind your people – If you see one of your staff members up against a wall, faced with opposition, or being blamed for something (for example)… back them up or help remove them from the situation so that it can be addressed privately (if necessary) between the two of you.
  7. Be a listener… not just a leader – Employees like to know that they are being heard. In addition to delegating tasks and leading a team, you need to make sure you are carving out plenty of time to listen to your staff, hear their ideas and suggestions, and maintain open lines of communication. There should always be a two-way street between supervisors and employees. Managers that flaunt their power or distance themselves are less respected. 
  8. Keep your cool – When the pressure’s on, this one can be tricky… but as a manager, it is critical. If the chips are down or the tension is up, your team needs a leader that will stay calm, stay focused, and even lighten the mood a little. Laughter is probably the best stress reliever out there. When times are tough… toss in a little fun factor!
  9. Roll up your sleeves – It is rare… and I mean RARE to find a manager that is not only willing to help get the job done, but that can step into any position and fill in as needed. I have only known a handful of people that can do this, and let me tell you… it is a quality beyond words.
  10. Follow your instincts – This one, to me, doesn’t need much explanation. It’s a rule of thumb that I try to live by in all facets of my life. I think to myself, would my co-workers (or on a personal level – kids, spouse, friend, or parent) be proud of my actions right now? If the answer is no… then it’s probably not the right thing to do. It’s just that simple. Follow this idea, and you’re sure to be better off… every time.

Happy New Year Everyone!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margie Torres
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 04:34:30

    I found your information very helpful, but how many managers really do these things that you have listed? What makes a great manager? Also what makes a great team?



  2. Mike Elter
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 07:32:48

    Basically, one word– Empathy

    Always try to be considerate of anything, known or perceived, that may be affecting your employee. Watch for signs, usually a change in behaviors, quality of work, etc., that something may indicate an employee is figting a demon.
    Then offer to try and help resolve it, if desired.
    Let them know you are there to support them in every way possible, not just to supervise their work.



    • Gmail Male
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 16:51:58

      I agree with Mike to a point. As a manager, I am frequently hearing about my employees’ personal problems. And as much as I want them to know that I care about them outside of work as well as in, I think they sometimes they use their personal issues as excuses for underperforming at work. Also, we all have issues, yet we all still have to meet work goals. My goal as a supervisor is to make sure my team performs. If your demons are creating problems at work and therefore causing my performance as team leader to suffer, I have to do more than be sympathetic. I have to solve the problem so my team can get back on track. Sometimes, sympathy for your issues will not solve my problem.



  3. Julie
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:46:30

    Great stuff to remember and or be reminded of.



  4. Manage Better Now
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:30:41

    Set goals for your people and touchbase weekly to let them know how they are progressing. Sounds simple, but it is the key to managing. Great post.



  5. allenvail
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:21:23

    Thanks! Excellent comments!



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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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