How to Become a Better Manager

Be an Exemplary Manager

I remember when I used to be the employee with the grumpy manager; I could never get a compliment from him no matter how early I finished my tasks. And he had this passive aggressive way of treating all employees when we turned in a few minutes late to work or couldn’t finish a task on the due date. He was overbearing and unsupportive. Now I think about it, he was the reason why I had quit my first job before I had even finished my probation period.
But now I am the manager. And I have nothing but gratitude for my first manager, because he taught me everything I should not be as I manage and administer the employees in my company.
And if you are a manager yourself, you need to listen to what I have to say.
– Don’t try to be the bossy boss
When you sit in your comfortable chair in the personal comfort of your cabin which is right next to the one of company’s CEO, it’s hard not to get drunk with power. But it’s your responsibility to stay sober.
A manager should maintain a certain kind of authority over employees, but only to a certain extent.
One thing my first manager did that I hated was bossing me around all the time; “do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that!” That sums up my very first job.
He never let me take initiative and this greatly limited my ability to learn new things and take risks. What he failed to do was let me grow in my role as an assistant, because he made decisions for me and never gave me the time of day to voice my own opinions.
One of the major responsibilities of a manager is to create an environment where employees can flourish and feel free to express themselves.
Although you are good at business management you might not be as good at doing what they are specialized in doing; then what you should do is allow them to do their job and make sure that they do it right on time and within budget. It doesn’t hurt to voice your opinion, but never dismiss theirs just because you have the authority to do so.
And what I mean by don’t be the bossy boss is…
– Be friendly
No, it doesn’t mean that you should go and hang out with the employees by the water cooler and indulge in gossip! It means to interact with employees in a more personal level, without breaking those boundaries that shouldn’t be broken and earning the wrath of the HR department on you.
Being the friendly manager whom employees love will help you win over their trust. This would make things easy for you when handling issues related to them. And trust me, the mere thought of betraying your trust would prevent them from doing a lot of things you don’t want them to do (like saying ‘no’ to working that extra one hour to finish that urgent task!).
When talking about sensitive matters (like the marketing team spending too much time having lunch in the lunch room) with employees, you can use your closeness with them to address the issue without making anyone uncomfortable or offended.
And don’t think being friendly would cause employees to disregard you as an authority figure; if anything they would respect you more, for being humble and understanding. However you should also remember not to be too easy-going, lest employees would take advantage of it.
– Know each and every employee
This might not be the easiest step to take if you are the manager of a large corporation, but still it’s not impossible; not if you use an organizational chart. An org chart visually lists down all the employees in the company in hierarchical order.
This will help you know who is who and what they do. Plus you wouldn’t have to grudgingly stand up from your seat, march to the particular employee’s work station and point your finger at her and go “you, I need you in my room”, or tell your assistant to go and find the “one with red hair” like my old manager used to do, because he hardly remembered anyone’s name.
You can also refer to this org chart when you are allocating resources, planning and managing projects, because you can easily put down any detail related to the employee in an org chart like the one below. It lists down all the personal information of the employees working in the HR department;
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(Made using Creately)
– Effective communication!
I’m sure you’ve read it everywhere, but did you stop to think that’s because it’s a crucial part of effective management. The thing is, it’s easy to get lost in your own pile of work and completely forget to go out and interact with your employees; listen to their needs, concerns, opinions etc.
A good manager should not only know the name and the title of every employee in his company, but he should also know what projects they are working on etc. And if you communicate well with the employees on a regular basis, you can familiarize yourself with all these details.
Effective communication does not mean saying “hello, good morning” to those who happen to be on your way as you walk to your room in the morning, it entails being there, paying attention when the employees approach with their opinions as well as concerns. Giving your feedback to the matter they refer to is as important as listening to them completely.
You should be able to accept the right opinion as much as be able to boldly reject what is not working. And you would know how to do this, if you communicate well with your employees.
– Keep an open mind
With the rapid advancement of technology, any work environment is subjected to constant change. It’s undeniable, and being hell-bent on your olden ways will only lead to a grudge between you and your tech savvy employees.
My old manager, who I assisted with, had apparently graduated before the computers were invented because he used to keep hand-written hard copies of every report and was not satisfied with the fact that I used computers, even though he actually did know how to use one! If he had been a little open to the possibilities of this new technology, things would have been a lot easier for both of us.
Being unresponsive to change is not healthy if you plan to thrive in your career, whether you are a manager or an assistant. On the other hand, keeping an open mind would let you adapt easily to the new changes. Open your ears to the new ideas voiced by the millennials working with their headphones on, for if you don’t, it would keep both of you from moving forward.
–  Don’t avoid conflict
It could be two departments fighting over the conference room or two executives openly and aggressively competing for the same promotion, and you shouldn’t turn a blind eye and go pack to signing those papers (this was exactly what my old manager did and in the end both executives had to resign!).
Conflict resolution is an integral part of business management and therefore as a manager, you have no way around it. When conflict arises between departments, employees or between you and the employees, you need to take immediate action to provide solutions; you need to impartially listen to the story of all parties involved and arrive at a solution that would  put a permanent end to  it.
However, by practicing effective internal (between employees, different departments, employees and the management etc.) communication habits, you can prevent conflicts from occurring at all. Such habits could include daily team meetings, weekly departmental conferences, monthly company outings etc.
Such regular gatherings of employees would allow them to connect in a both professional and a personal level, hence reducing the chances of any conflict occurring between them.
– Lead by example
I’m not the one to brag, but my assistant loves me (totally platonic of course)! He constantly appreciates my methods and swears that one day he wants to be a manager just like me. Of course this makes me flattered, but it makes me prouder; because it proves that I am an exemplary manager, so much so that people are actually eager to take after me.
Of course, when I took over this position I already had my own style of management, but what helped shape it was the experiences I had gathered, what I had learnt from the managers I had worked under and what I decided to incorporate and leave out.
I am not the kind of manager that would impose a set of rules on employees and expect them to follow them while I myself refused to do so. I participate in every daily, weekly and monthly team and departmental meetings; this of course keeps me updated on what’s going on around the office, but it also allows me to show to my employees that I take this endeavor very seriously.  And here and there I provide my input as well, although I don’t force it upon them.
I value transparency in the workplace and nothing stays hidden between me and my employees. We talk about everything out in the open (of course only within the walls of the company!), from company strategies to details about hiring a new employee.

This method of transparency has led to an improvement in employee engagement as well, for including employees in the company strategy and giving a space for their opinion in it has allowed them to connect with the company as well as its vision and mission.

These are the top management tips that I would recommend to anybody. If you are struggling to win the trust of your employees or manage your workload, incorporate these proven-effective methods to your work strategy.