These steps help you to become a good or better manager.
1. Reflect on managers you thought were good
Taking your first steps as a manager can be hard. You probably feel like Bambi on ice. It helps to look to the managers you’ve thought were good and inspiring. You can use them as a blueprint for how you want to do things. But even later in your career, it’s still valuable to look to others for inspiration.
Take some time to think about the managers you thought were really great at various points in your career. Write down this person’s strengths and how you could put these into practice. Look at this list on a regular basis to remind yourself of these points.
This might be stating the obvious, but don’t lose sight of your own personality when doing this. If you usually show up at work in a suit and then one day you suddenly decide to start wearing sneakers and a turtleneck because that’s what Steve Jobs did, you might be losing your own style.
2. Speak to other managers
Who better to go to if you want to learn how to be a good manager than a good manager? If you’ve followed tip one, you’ll probably already have a list in your head of the good managers in your network. Invite them out for a cup of coffee to talk about their mistakes and best achievements. They’ll probably find it really fun to share their experiences.
Also reach out to fellow managers you haven’t met yet, for example through a peer-to-peer mentoring group or a mastermind group. In peer-to-peer mentoring, you meet up with a number of – usually less than ten – peers and help each other to become better at your jobs. You can find one for any industry or role: simply do a Google search or – even better – post an appeal for suggestions on LinkedIn. Setting up your own group is obviously always an option too!
3. Discover what’s unique about each of your team members and get the most out of them
A study by Harvard Business Review of 80,000 managers discovered that there are as many management styles as there are managers, but that one habit makes a good manager stand out from the rest: good managers devote time and attention to discovering the talents, quirks, and weaknesses of each individual team member. They then think about how they can use these to achieve their goals.
Doing this means you end up giving team members the roles that best utilize their talents. This delivers better results than when you try to motivate employees to do tasks and roles that they aren’t so good at or don’t enjoy as much. What’s more, this way you let your employees know that you see them for who they are. This strengthens your bonds and makes the team as a whole much stronger.
4. Develop a shared vision and strategy
Research carried out by Google shows that the best managers have a clear vision and strategy for their team. Team members are more productive and prioritize their work better when they have a clear idea of what the higher goal is. This is especially true if the vision and strategy are developed during consultations with the team as a whole.
Once you’ve developed a shared strategy, give the team frequent status updates about the progress that is being made to reach this goal. By doing this, you create transparency, motivate your employees to keep doing their best, and together you have the ability to make adjustments if the team veers off course.
5. Stay informed and be prepared to change your mind
Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean you’re an authority on everything. It’s okay that you don’t know it all and that you don’t have an answer for everything. That’s why Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson says: “One of the leadership challenges is […] to recognize that you don’t have the answer yourself.”
So don’t hesitate to get frequent updates from your team: collectively they probably have a much better idea of what exactly is going on at work than you do by yourself.
And if your team has other ideas about how certain processes can be implemented or which direction a project should go in, be prepared to change your mind. You’ll go far if you follow the motto, “the strongest argument wins, not the highest authority”!
Nothing is as frustrating as a rigid manager who follows processes simply “because that’s how it’s always been done”. And nothing is as powerful as a manager who changes and grows.
Each manager is unique
Whichever tips you decide to follow, remember that each manager is unique and that it takes time to develop your own management style. With Bambi it was also all about falling down and getting back up again at the beginning, but with a bit of help, he was sliding around in no time like he’d been doing it his whole life.
Would you benefit from talking through your role as a manager? For example, about a specific situation or how you can grow in your role? Schedule a consultation with one of our psychologists. They’ll be able to offer you the appropriate support.