Whether you’ve recently been promoted into a management position or you’ve been a manager for years, managing others doesn’t always come naturally. But have no fear! You can learn to be a great manager with practice and intention.
So what exactly does it mean to manage others? Even though the definition of manage is to have supervisory control, at the most basic level, being a great manager is more about coaching and mentoring than about managing or supervising. You’re helping someone develop their skills and career, not trying to personally control and monitor everything they do.
Though I don’t have room to write a book—and plenty have already been written—let’s explore five of the most important ways to be a great manager.
You’re in this position for a reason. Ideally, you’re good at what you do. You have a talent, an expertise, a value. It’s easy to think that guarding that expertise can make you even more valuable, but being a manager means that it’s not just your career you’re building now. Your objective is to help develop the people who work for you. That means sharing what you know, so those on your team can grow as well. If you guard your knowledge and expertise, not only are you preventing your employees from thriving, but you’re most likely creating more work for yourself.
Each person on your team is unique. And part of being an effective manager is learning what intrinsically motivates each member and then capitalizing on that to reveal their strengths. Understanding the unique strengths of each employee can help you leverage their talents to build a more collaborative and productive team.
Getting to know yourself, what motivates you and influences your own behaviors, is important. Without self-awareness, you can’t understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and how those elements affect your team members.
Now that you’re a manager, you’re also a leader. Your actions and behaviors in all areas of the workplace—client meetings, offsites, internal meetings, kitchen conversations—hold more influential weight than they did before, so having increased self-awareness is important. Your employees are now looking to you to set a positive example.
Part of your role is delegating work. This can be one of the hardest things to do as a new manager, because of our natural fear of losing control. Trusting your team and delegating work is empowering. Doing so can help your team rise to a challenge and feel valued and valid. But it can also give them space to make mistakes and learn. When they make mistakes, trust them to receive the feedback they need to grow. And most importantly, be brave enough to give it.
Ask for help when you need it, because we all need it sometimes. In fact, that’s what YOUR manager is there for, as well as the HR and talent development teams. As I said earlier, managing people doesn’t always come naturally, and that might mean you don’t know the right course of action when times get tough. That’s OK. Reach out. The worst thing you can do is ignore issues and conflict. They won’t go away; they’ll only grow into bigger issues that could have easily been nipped in the bud.
None of what I’ve written here is groundbreaking. But it’s important to remember that as a manager, you have a huge impact on your team’s experience in the workplace. Keeping these tips in mind can help you and your team find fulfillment and be as productive as possible.