being a great manager

The 5 essential traits of great managers

25 Jun 2019 by Ashlee Laura

We have all reported to a manager at some stage in our careers. I bet you can remember more bad managers than good, right?

There’s definitely truth to the old saying “people don’t leave companies, people leave people.” That’s because a good manager will inspire and uplift their team, motivating them to work hard and be satisfied in their jobs. A bad manager will push, dictate and micromanage, leaving their staff feeling worthless, unworthy and unsatisfied.

I don’t know about you but I would prefer to be known as a great manager, and that’s why I have compiled the following five traits of a great manager.

1. Great managers inspire their team

Have a vision and share it! Simon Sinek, in his book “Start with Why”, talks about the importance of communicating your “why” to your team. He explains that by doing so, you will inspire and build a culture and team of people that are like-minded and motivated by the “why” and not just by money.

A great question to ask someone you are considering hiring is: “If you were given a million dollars today, what would you do?” If they answer that they would still do what they are doing, then it’s clear they love what they do, and they would probably be a great match for your team.

Sharing your belief in your brand, and the reason you were drawn to create it, will help draw other people into believing in it and you as well. When people come to you saying they would love to work for you because they love what your brand is about and the culture you have created, you might want to take a chance on them as they are clearly already inspired and passionate about your team and culture.

2. Great managers communicate effectively and listen

Communication is vital if you want to create a harmonious team who works well together and meets their goals. In some ways though, listening is the most important part of communication. Having the ability to listen will help your team feel comfortable talking to you. They will trust that they can come to you with any problem, because they know you’ll listen to what they say and implement strategies to solve the issue.

One big mistake I see business owners and managers make is sweeping issues under the rug. I get it! Direct communication is scary. But if you hear about an issue or concern, it’s important that you take the time to have that conversation promptly (away from the rest of the team) and take steps to correct the issue.

The same goes for praise and recognition. If you see that a team member did something really well, take the time there and then to communicate that to them. We often think we will tell them at the next meeting or next appraisal, but why wait? Your praise will have an immediate impact on their day and help to motivate and inspire them.

3. Great managers mentor not bulldoze

You really want to be able to mentor, inspire and encourage your team, just like a parent does with their children. Sure, you are not their parent, but you’ll get so much further with encouragement than you will by telling them off. When your team is learning to do something new you need to be able to encourage and uplift them.

A great manager would never belittle, undermine or bulldoze their team into doing what they wanted. Instead, they would set an example of the work ethic they want to see in their team and would not be afraid to get down and dirty and do the “junior” jobs.

When you lead by example, take time to encourage team members when they’re struggling and praise them when they’re winning, your team will be more motivated to work hard for you, solve problems and take initiative because they feel encouraged, valued and important.

4. Great managers empower their team

Empowering your team is all about giving them the tools, responsibilities and accountability to complete their duties. Of course we all want to make sure things are being done properly and to our standard, but it’s important to inspire and empower your team to work hard, trust them to do the work, and never micromanage or nag at them to do their jobs. Micromanagement is the opposite of empowerment. Nothing de-motivates an employee more than having someone looking over their shoulder constantly checking their work.

One of my best tips in this new exciting digital world is to implement a team app that will allow communication, assign projects and responsibilities, and allow your team more autonomy. These apps allow you to log in to see what tasks have been assigned and who has completed their tasks and projects. It helps create a culture of accountability and gives your team the power to prioritise their own day, as well as a feeling of satisfaction when they complete tasks. It’s a lot better than verbally telling your team to do things and then having to check up on them all the time. My favourite team app is Asana. It is easy to use, provides great visibility and allows you to tick off your to-do list.

5. Great managers are consistent

It is so important when leading a team to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it! How can we expect our team to have a culture of accountability if we ourselves are not being accountable and consistent?

When you say you will do something, do it. If you tell someone that you will get back to them, do it. If you are implementing a program or regular staff meetings, show up, be present, have an agenda, stick to the schedule and follow through with your plan.

I get it, we all get busy, it’s not just our team we are managing, we have a giant to-do list too. But a great manager leads by example, so be consistent and accountable, and your team will start to do the same.

So, how do you become a great manager? Have a good look at yourself and do some honest self-evaluation. Chances are you are probably already nailing some of these, so find your gaps and start working there. Remember, great managers listen, so don’t be afraid to ask your team for feedback on how you are doing. Sharing your journey from good manager to great manager with your team will inspire them to also continue to improve, making your whole team stronger.

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