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How to Be a Better Manager: 15 Simple Tips

By Erika Miller
Grid with head shots of every contributor to the blog post.

65% of people think they would be more effective if they had a better boss. What are ways you can lead more successfully?

To help you better manage your teams, we asked business leaders and professionals for their insights. From understanding what motivates people to focusing on empathy, there are several ways you can improve your leadership skills to be a better boss.

Nope. Employee engagement is not driven by the high-level promises that are the dangling carrot of the hiring process. Employee engagement is about keeping your workers happy day to day. Employees who are happy with their everyday work environment stick around.

Here are 15 simple tips for pushing your management skills to the next level:

  • Ask First, Answer Last
  • Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence
  • Understand What Motivates People
  • Improve Employee Engagement
  • Be Willing to Make Adjustments
  • Take a Real Interest in Their Success
  • Give Positive Feedback
  • Quit Micromanaging, Start Delegating
  • Focus on Empathy
  • Provide Insane Amounts of Flexibility
  • Forget You’re a Manager
  • Acknowledge Small Wins
  • Be Consistent
  • Champion Open Communication
  • Help Them Trust Their Own Skills

Ask First, Answer Last

I was a lousy manager until I learned (from my manager and The Coaching Habit) that asking good questions and then shutting up to listen to the answers has to be the basis for how you manage. Asking simple questions leads your managed person to fill the silence with their answers.

They’ll often challenge their own assumptions on the way to discovering the answer for themselves. At which point your “answers” become confirmations of what they’ve already figured out. They leave feeling validated and capable, and you look like a genius. Note: Before you start using this new approach, let them know you’re trying something new. They need to be clear that you’re not asking gotcha questions.

Web Webster, TechnologyAdvice

Demonstrate Emotional Intelligence

Being in a management position for the past three years, I have realized that good managers use emotional intelligence while dealing with people and resolving their conflicts. They are good at adapting their people management skills to different situations, different people, and different environments. To understand what truly motivates your team, a manager needs to be emotionally connected and aware. Only then can they help boost employee morale and improve employee performance.

They are able to understand each person on their team and provide full support to them. They have strong communication skills, which enable them to build strong relationships with their employees, win their trust, and create positive attitudes among their staff. They encourage others to share their ideas freely with them and provide a safe environment where employees are not afraid to speak their minds.

Hamna Amjad, Efani

Understand What Motivates People

When you understand how your employees think and behave, you can better understand how to help them succeed. One way I see this play out best is by building goals together. This creates a few amazing outcomes, including personal buy-in, goals that excite and develop, and a high rate of completion. If you manage each person uniquely, you will find yourself with a highly engaged and motivated team.

Jenn Christie, Markitors

Improve Employee Engagement

Engaging employees in their work is a crucial factor for increasing employee retention and productivity. According to MBA professor Todd Dewett, engaged employees feel emotionally connected to their work and identify it with the whole organization.

Confusing engagement with motivation is among the common mistakes that managers make. They assume that their employees share the same level of engagement, and they do not put any special attention into the tactics to improve it. To sum up, the efforts will be more effective if a manager tailors them to each individual.

Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Be Willing to Make Adjustments

One big mistake in business is to continue to follow outdated processes. Be open to change within your organization to foster growth and ingenuity. Even if you’ve always done things a certain way, that’s not sufficient reason to continue following methods that no longer work. Be flexible and adjust processes whenever necessary.

Jenn Ohara, Soba Recovery

Take a Real Interest in Their Success

Focus on helping the people you manage be more successful and celebrate it when they are. At my business, this means having quick 10-15 minute huddles each morning as a team to talk about wins, any challenges, and how I can support them.

It includes weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss their personal development openly, regardless of what those goals might be. It also means regular training opportunities, whether it’s call calibration, learning new aspects of the business, job shadowing, or just learning a new skill.

Phil Bryson, Desert Pro Home Buyers

Give Positive Feedback

Give more feedback to your employees, especially more appreciative feedback. The more valued your employees feel, the more confident they will feel, which will affect their work. Your employees should work from their strengths rather than their weaknesses, and appreciation will allow them to work from their strengths. While you should also give developmental feedback as well to point out anything your employees should work on, I would aim for a 4:1 ratio of appreciative feedback to developmental feedback.

Joaquín Roca, Minerva

Quit Micromanaging, Start Delegating

Employees hate being micromanaged because it not only disrupts their entire workflow but also makes them feel like they’re constantly being monitored without any trust. Rather than trying to control their every step, managers should practice delegating tasks more effectively.

Start by evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, and interests of your team members to identify which tasks suit them the best. From there, it’s all about equipping your team with the right resources and tools and letting them meet the results without interference — unless they ask for help, of course!

George Mitsov, ProxyEmpire

Focus on Empathy

Empathy is by far one of the best ways to become a more effective manager. The more you know about your people, the more you engage with them, and the better you will be able to work with them. In addition, your employees will know that they are cared for and that their voice is heard and has merit. An ability to be a strong, yet empathetic leader, will greatly grow your company.

Jeff Meeks, EnergyFit

Provide Insane Amounts of Flexibility

Your employees want to be able to live their life without feeling guilty. The best way managers can enable this is to provide as much flexibility as possible. Whenever I have a new team member, I tell them: “Make sure your job is done well, be honest with the company, and then do whatever you need to do.”

Almost always, they respect this request, which means the company is happy and they get to have a life away from their desk. As Gen Z enters the workforce (25% of your team will be Gen Z by the year 2025), this flexibility will be one of the most important benefits a manager can provide.

Logan Mallory, Motivosity

Forget You’re a Manager

Think like your employees. You want to ensure your employees are as happy as possible. To do that, you have to put yourself in their shoes. Forget that you have a manager title and envision yourself in each and every role. Remain grounded so that you can gain perspective into every detail of the business.

Jacques-Edouard Sabatier, JOW

Acknowledge Small Wins

Employees simply want to feel appreciated. As such, it is incredibly important for managers to acknowledge success. Indeed, most managers correctly celebrate the large wins. However, the best managers take time out of their day to acknowledge the small wins.

For example, send a proactive email to celebrate a successful Powerpoint presentation. In order to help employees properly feel validated, consider three acknowledgment strategies: (1) peer-to-peer validation, (2) public team praise, and (3) monetary or carrot-driven incentives.

David Wolfe, Olivers Apparel

Be Consistent

Consistency is essential when managing a team of people in order to avoid confusion. Follow set processes for various tasks. Optimizing processes and workflows can help with efficiency. These processes can be repeated, which will offer consistency.

Andrew Bernstein, Kinder Beauty

Champion Open Communication

When it comes to the business world, communication is a key factor in creating great chemistry within your team. If you are not able to get your idea across to your team members, then it will not be executed properly, which causes unnecessary setbacks.

The best solution is to plan out your thoughts and ideas before discussing what you want to execute with your team. That way, your points will be concise and to the point. You want to make sure you are getting the same communication from your team members as their honesty will help you motivate the team to get tasks done effectively and efficiently.

Jacob Dayan, Community Tax

Help Them Trust Their Own Skills

Every company has a few team members who struggle with their own self-worth. Perhaps they are new to the industry or maybe have had past experiences that have caused them to doubt their skills. However, a leader who recognizes this and can exhibit empathy can often make all the difference and quickly turn a struggling employee into one of the most productive members of the team.

One of the best ways to show a person their own self-worth is to trust in their skills by assigning them tasks that may cause them to step a little out of their comfort zone. Often, as leaders, we can see the true potential in an employee when they can’t see it themselves. Once they have successfully finished the project (with plenty of support), they can revel in that feeling of satisfaction and exhilaration that comes from expanding their skill set and reaching a positive outcome.

Greg Gillman, MuteSix

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