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How to be a better manager


Management is tough. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, we hope this list of our favourite management tips will help.

1. Remember management is about people

It might be obvious, but it can get forgotten: The core role of a manager is to manage other people to get stuff done - and that’s a skill that needs learning. Professional or technical expertise by itself won’t make you a good manager.

2. Accept that people have problems

Managing people means taking account of their problems. Human beings aren’t machines. Be flexible and provide support as needed.

3. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room

You can’t always know everything and you won’t always have the best ideas. The skill of the manager lies in drawing out ideas and input from everyone around them and putting what emerges to good use.

4. Always recruit the best person for the job

The more experience you have in the team, the better. Why would you reject a candidate because they are ‘overqualified’, for example? They may be looking for good reason for a role with less responsibility. And don’t worry about how long people might stay. It’s better to have an amazing person for a year than a low achiever for a decade. And if they’re smarter than you? Fantastic.

5. Remember the best person for the job might not be like you

Typically, we recruit people like ourselves. But someone of a different background will bring fresh perspectives that could prove invaluable. Keep an open mind.

6. Stay on top of performance

You’re judged on how well your team perform. So you need to both help people do good work and keep track of where they’re at. Annual appraisals aren’t enough. Check in, ask questions and give feedback as appropriate for the individual and the task: Don’t patronise, micromanage, or leave people to flounder.

7. Delegate (appropriately)

Decide whether delegation is appropriate. Set clear expectations; give explanations and support at a level to match the person’s experience. Check understanding.

8. Don’t send emails out of hours

If you must write emails outside working hours, don’t send them until it’s time for people to be at their desks again. But preferably, don’t write emails outside working hours. You’ll be more effective if you switch off too.

9. Recognise everyone has a breaking point

Short bursts of high-pressure working are one thing. A constant high stress environment is something else entirely. Anyone can get overwhelmed. Even the person you thought was the calmest, steadiest team member. Even you. Do whatever is in your power to keep stress levels manageable.

10. Don’t let issues fester

Whether you’ve got an unhappy customer, staff are arguing amongst themselves, or you sense team resentment simmering, deal with the situation promptly. Everyone can move on – and you’ll feel so much better.

11. Give people opportunities…

Provide support for training, encourage individuals to take on new projects, promote where you can. If you’re worried about giving training because people might leave, think about what happens if you don’t train them and they stay.

12. …but respect comfort zones

Some people blossom when pushed out of their comfort zone. Others like to stay exactly where they are, happily using existing skills to do good work. Understand what’s right for each individual.

13. Listen and follow through

Listening is always important, but it’s only the first step. Unless you follow through on what people tell you, they’ll soon stop talking.

14. Look for ways to do things better

Maintaining the status quo won’t win you any prizes. Always be looking out for ideas for improvements – how can you make a process more efficient, deliver a better service, cut costs?

15. Embrace change

Change is going to happen, so you might as well welcome it. After all, the opposite is stagnation – and who wants to stagnate? But change can bring negatives as well as positives. Your team will have concerns, some justified, some perhaps less so. Be sensitive, and don’t ignore issues.

16. Collaborate with colleagues

When you understand your colleague’s worlds, you can see how activities fit together and provide mutual support. There could well be opportunities to integrate processes or develop joint projects that will contribute effectively towards organisational goals.

17. Manage upwards

You can only achieve what you want to achieve with your boss’s support. Take time to understand their personal drivers and motivations so you can get the best from the relationship.

18. Always act with integrity

Be honest, fair and consistent. Try to do the right thing. You’ll earn the trust and respect of your team, and they will stick by you even when times are tough.

What have we missed? Share your favourite management tips on either our LinkedIn or Twitter account.

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