How to be a great manager

by Andrea Byaruhanga
March 9, 2021

Have you ever wondered how to be a great manager? 

If you want to be a manager – or if you’re already a manager – and you’ve never asked yourself that question, you definitely should. There are a lot of managers out there, but not all of them are doing a great job.

Below, we share six tips on how to be a great manager, so read on!

1. Don’t micromanage

Micromanaging is something many managers are guilty of. It’s the habit of trying to supervise and control every little detail of an employee’s work. It’s the inability to give employees any freedom to do things their own way. In short, it’s a manager’s total lack of trust!

Micromanaging decreases motivation and learning; it’s also really annoying and stressful for employees. On top of that, tightly controlling employees’ time and actions means they’ll never be confident enough to think or make decisions independently. 

Micromanaging also affects a manager’s ability to evaluate an employee properly. How can you truly assess someone’s skills if you’re telling them exactly how to do everything?

To be a great manager, you need to trust your team members to be independent and to make decisions on their own, when appropriate. Instead of controlling every step an employee takes to get their work done, focus on whether they deliver results

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2. Walk around 

Some managers think their job title gives them the right to sit behind their desk, always separate from employees, assigning tasks and checking on progress by email or instant message.

A better idea is to walk around the office, having informal check-ins and conversations with your team. This is sometimes called management by wandering around (MBWA)

When you get up from behind your desk regularly to chat with your team, you’ll benefit from: 

  • Better communication. Employees aren’t always comfortable speaking up in a meeting or going to your office to ask a question. Approaching them in a less formal way will give them more chances to speak to you in a stress-free context. It will also let you clearly explain tasks, projects and goals and make sure everyone understands. 
  • Increased motivation. When you’re there to talk to, you’re allowing employees to get more details about tasks and projects by asking you questions. When they have all the information about an assignment, they’re likely to be more motivated to achieve the outcomes you want. 
  • More trust and loyalty. By regularly chatting with your employees face-to-face, you’ll build better relationships with them. If they can see that you’re a real person (not just a name on an email or an intimidating figure behind a desk), they’ll trust you more and be more loyal to you. 

3. Communicate 

Even if you’re not into management by wandering around, you should still make sure that the lines of communication are open. Did you know that 31% of employees want their managers to communicate more often?

When you have conversations regularly (both speaking and listening!), you’ll be able to:

  • Solve problems and resolve conflicts before they get serious. 
  • Increase productivity, as everyone will know what you expect them to do and achieve. 
  • Boost engagement and confidence because your team will feel supported and informed. 

A fantastic way to ensure great communication is to have regular one-on-one meetings with your employees to make sure that they’re happy, find out if they have any concerns, check that they’re meeting objectives (and how you can help them if they’re not) and more.

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4. Be fair

A manager should never pick favourites. When you treat some employees better than others (giving them more opportunities, being nicer to them, etc.), you’ll create problems among the other employees:

  • Motivation will decrease if they don’t believe they’re valuable or liked.
  • Productivity will drop because they will be focused on the unfair treatment rather than on their work. 
  • They may even leave the company. 

To create a fair environment, you need to set some rules and ensure expectations are clear for all employees. 

You also need to consider how a rule might impact employees differently, and adjust it if needed. For example, a parent of two small children might find it difficult to attend weekly dinner meetings, whereas it might not be a problem for a single person. Does that mean the parent should get special treatment or be punished? Nope! In a case like this, you need to try to find a solution that works for everyone, and that’s fair to everyone. 

5. Identify strengths

Not everyone is the same! Take some time to get to know them, and you’ll see that your team members have different skills, talents and even career goals. 

A great manager sees what their employees are good at and helps them grow and develop their talents. When you notice that an employee has certain strengths, try to give them opportunities and resources to boost their skills.

You should also give them the chance to reach goals and advance in their careers. If you have a job opening, consider promoting a current employee before deciding to hire someone outside of the company. 

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6. Acknowledge accomplishments

No matter who you are, you have to admit that it’s usually nice to get a pat on the back when you’ve done something well – and many employees agree! One survey found that 37% of employees said they would do better work if they were recognised more. 

When you acknowledge employees for a job well done, you increase their motivation and productivity, raise their spirits and encourage them to stick with the company. 

To make sure your team members are rewarded for their hard work, think about  starting a recognition program. There are lots of different things you can do; the rewards don’t have to be huge – just make sure they match the level of the accomplishment. 

7. Create great relationships

To build strong bonds with your employees, you can’t leave room for any misunderstandings – so your language skills should be top-notch. Need a hand with that? Let Lingoda help you sharpen the skills you need!