Hands down the worst manager I ever had distrusted all his employees from the day he hired them. If you weren’t ten minutes early for work, you were late, and all non-work related conversation between employees was forbidden. If that wasn’t disheartening enough, he had the nasty habit of spitting his chewing tobacco in the wastepaper basket located next to my desk. Utterly revolting!
I think it’s fair to say he was not a good manager.
Fortunately, the majority of my bosses have possessed good management characteristics, including these five key traits:
1. Be positive – Inspire employees to do their best by setting a positive tone in the office. Pay attention, not only to words, but to body language when interacting with employees. For example, make sure that a brow furrowed in concentration during a staff meeting isn’t misinterpreted as a negative reaction when innovative ideas are shared.
2. Positive reinforcement – Let the praise flow when deserved. This was a hard one for me early in my management career. Not because compliments weren’t deserved, but because I presumed employees knew I was pleased with their work. A silly presumption, right? Don’t make the same mistake. Recognize good decision-making and behavior. One of the best ways is to send the employee a thank-you or congratulatory email and cc: your boss to demonstrate that outstanding performance gets notice company-wide.
3. Delegate and mentor – Challenge employees and help them grow. As a manager, stifle your urge to direct a precise course of action when presented with a dilemma. Instead, encourage employees to problem-solve and design a plan to implement the solution. Ask thoughtful questions about proposed solutions and implementation plans to help employees think through the best strategies. Provide clear expectations and check in periodically to monitor progress and realign tasks if they get off course.
4. Trust and honesty are two-way streets – You have to give to get. Employees won’t be forthcoming with a manager they don’t trust. Good managers create an environment which encourages employees to raise problems internally before external forces become aware of the issue instead of sweeping them under the rug. Early awareness will make the issue easier to fix and provide opportunity to develop a well crafted message in the event the problem becomes public. Which leads me to the next point…
5. Dump the blame game – The important question is why something went awry, not whose fault it is. Focus on reviewing the process which led to the problem. Did a step get overlooked? Did an unanticipated glitch occur? Then take steps to ensure the same situation won’t happen the next time. Employees will appreciate the lack of blame and will reward you with loyalty and a desire to ensure future success.
Weaving a common thread through all five traits is communication. Good managers clearly articulate direction, listen to the response, learn more about the issue and adjust course when necessary as they demonstrate these five characteristics.
I began this blog with a story about my worst manager. I’ll end with a story about my best manager.
She encouraged me to grow personally and professionally by giving me tasks and projects that stretched my wings. She guided me through tough budgets and personnel decisions and clearly had my back when questions arose. She did it all while utilizing the five traits listed above and I will be forever grateful.
I’d love to hear your ideas about what makes a good manager. Please comment below or tweet me @Delora4Biz.