4 Tips on How To Be a Good Manager and Leader
Everyone remembers their favorite manager.
Maybe it’s the person who took you under their wing when you were starting your career. Perhaps it’s someone who showed you tremendous compassion at a challenging time. Or do you think of a leader who helped you develop and grow in your own role as a manager?
Whoever your most impactful manager is, they likely made you feel supported, assured, and happy with your responsibilities and yourself at work.
But what sets a good leader apart from a bad one?
Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned professional looking for a refresh, learning how to be a good manager never really stops.
In this article, we’ll look at four ways you can become a better leader and share the ten qualities of a good manager.
4 tips on how to be a good manager and leader
Managers have a direct impact on employee happiness, productivity, and engagement. This means that ineffective managers can hinder both employee performance and business results.
There’s no secret trick to learning how to become a better manager, and every individual is different.
However, following these guidelines might help you improve your skills and allow you to take another look at your management habits to help guide your teams more effectively.
1. Understand your team
To be an effective leader, you must establish rapport beyond “Hi, how are you?” and get to know your team on a more personal level.
We’re not saying you need to be best buds, but knowing what motivates your direct reports and understanding their world and how they operate means you can use this information to customize the employee experience and develop happier, more engaged employees.
For example, if Jane tells you she’s a single parent with two children under seven years old and her preferred communication style is asynchronous, you know to let her leave early to attend to childcare needs and direct message her any important updates later.
And because Jane is a professional adult, you can trust her to catch up on work later that evening.
In contrast, if you weren’t aware that Jane is a single mother of two, you might not understand why she needs to leave early or try to contact her when she’s unavailable, which could lead to misunderstandings or miscommunication.
The first scenario is more likely to ensure that Jane feels supported and respected in the workplace, which leads to increases in employee happiness and engagement.
To get a full picture of your team, look to understand the following attributes alongside professional strengths and areas for development:
- Working style (e.g., collaborative, high-touch, or independent working)
- Learning style (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
- Communication style (e.g., direct, analytical, collaborative, influential)
- Communication preference (e.g., synchronous or asynchronous)
- Likes and dislikes
- Hobbies and interests
- Responsibilities outside of work
Keep a small notebook or file for each employee’s answer, and refer to this regularly to ensure you know how to manage your direct reports effectively.
2. Establish regular check-ins
One-on-ones are the perfect opportunity to deliver constructive, actionable feedback that helps employees develop and grow in their roles.
Set up a regular meeting schedule with all your direct reports. Use this time to discuss work assignments, projects, employee performance, business results and objectives, and ask them how they’re doing outside of work.
Remember that any feedback you deliver must:
- Be specific and include relevant examples
- Focus on performance, not personality
- Be actionable and help the employee improve their performance
Ask employees how they feel about their roles and workload, and check to see if they’re feeling overwhelmed. If they are, it’s your responsibility as a manager to support them and ensure they’re not experiencing burnout.
Use performance marketing software with a built-in one-on-one tool to easily schedule meetings, create agendas, take notes, and set OKRs. You can easily share this information with direct reports, streamlining the one-to-one process and helping you communicate async.
3. Create a positive, inclusive work environment
It’s your responsibility to foster a workplace environment where employees feel respected, heard, and supported. Here’s how:
Celebrate individual, team, collaborative, and business success openly and enthusiastically. Give credit where credit is due and ensure all team members feel included and celebrated.
Foster a psychologically safe environment
The American Psychology Association’s (APA) 2023 Work in America Survey found that 57% of workers said it’s very important that an organization values their emotional and psychological well-being, and 35% said it’s somewhat important.
It’s up to managers, leaders, and businesses to build workplaces where employees feel emotionally and psychologically safe and ensure that employee well-being is prioritized.
For example, aim to create a sense of belonging in the workplace, foster a learning-first environment, and make sure employees feel valued and like their contributions matter.
Allow flexible working
Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that work-life balance is the top consideration when choosing an employer. So, if you want to keep employees happy, improve retention rates, and become a more effective manager, ensure you offer direct reports an opportunity to work when and where they please.
Equity is the practice of creating a culture of fairness, impartiality, and justice throughout employment policies and practices.
As a leader, promoting equity means that direct reports have equal access to development opportunities, fair and balanced compensation, and are treated respectfully and without favoritism.
In an equitable workplace, employees from all walks of life feel included and like they belong, which helps improve morale and performance.
4. Support career development
Employees need to feel like their contributions matter and that they work in an environment that supports their professional and personal growth.
For larger, more established companies, this might mean helping employees develop skills that will help them climb the corporate ladder and develop them into leaders of the future.
Alternatively, if you work at a small or medium-sized business, you could create career pathways with more lateral movement, fewer hierarchical steps, and a bigger emphasis on communication and collaboration.
Flatter organizational structures provide an opportunity to improve employee engagement by giving employees more autonomy and responsibility, which helps keep them motivated, empowered, and engaged while providing them with career development opportunities.
10 qualities of a good manager
Any manager worth their salt will excel at the following skills:
- Empathy: understanding the needs of others and being aware of their feelings and thoughts.
- Transparency: being open and honest with communication; don’t sugarcoat or patronize employees
- Communication: communicate clearly, provide regular feedback, and recognize good performance.
- Listening: focus on what your employees are saying; show employees that you respect what they say by actively listening when they speak up.
- Approachable: employees should feel like they can come to you with any issues or problems—no matter how big or small.
- Trustworthy: respect employee confidentiality; help your employees know you have their best interest at heart.
- Fairness: treat all employees equally; encourage diversity in the workplace
- Self-awareness: reflect on how employees perceive you; work to change approaches so you can lead teams more effectively
- Assertive: present options with confidence; speak up about important issues
- Openness: be willing to try new ideas and respect other opinions
Learn more in the Manager Enablement Playbook
When it comes to manager effectiveness, where should you focus your time and budget? How can you distinguish between an effective manager and an ineffective one? And how can you replicate the success of good management at scale?
We created a guide to help you answer those questions and give you tips and tools for measuring key talent metrics, improving manager effectiveness, and creating a continuous learning environment for your managers.