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6 Min Read

Want To Know How To Be a Better Manager? Here Are Some Tips

HR tech writer Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross

At one point in your leadership career, you’ve probably asked about how to become a better manager. Managers have a lot of responsibilities, and they deserve to know how to be their best selves at work.

Unfortunately, we put a lot of stress on managers. Manager burnout has increased significantly in the last few years. Many companies don’t follow promotions with adequate training. Research has shown that 1 in 3 workers say their manager can’t lead a team. We also know that almost 1/3 of human resources time is spent addressing problems caused by poor people managers.

Manager effectiveness has a significant impact on workers. By learning how to be a better manager, you’ll be able to support yourself and your employees.

1. Focus on self-awareness

Being a good manager requires vulnerability. As a leader, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses, where you can best serve your team members, and where you might lack the skills they need.

You can build self-awareness through:

Once you find your strengths, you can lean into what makes you a unique leader. Creating habits around motivation, simplicity, and patience can make a significant difference for your staff members. Finally, leaning into coaching will give your team members freedom, confidence, and control over the work.

2. Invest in your self-development

You’ve probably heard phrases like you can’t pour from an empty cup or put your mask on first. As a manager, you are in charge of a team of employees or independent contractors. Great managers know that they must work on improving their skills and performance in order to do the best they can at managing their team.

When things get challenging, your first instinct may be to drop your job to put out work fires. While you need to be there for your team members, you have to carve out time for yourself too. 

You must model the behavior you want to see from your team members. Put an hour or two of personal development time on your calendar every week and make it non-negotiable. Eventually, the habit of investing in yourself will stick.

Do you want to take some time for your professional development this week? Check out our events page for upcoming and on-demand webinars. One of our latest events, 8 Skills Your Managers Need to Thrive in 2022, will benefit any people leader.

3. Be present for your direct reports

Questions like how to become a better manager can be challenging to answer. One of the essential duties of a good manager is being present for direct reports. Your team needs you to be present, connect, and build a relationship with them. Unfortunately, 40% of employees say their manager fails to have honest conversations about work topics frequently.

Here are a few ways that you can build trust be there for your team members:

  • Make one-on-ones mandatory, and avoid canceling them.
  • Have genuine conversations that go beyond commenting on the weather.
  • Flex your active listening skills by being present in conversations with direct reports.
  • Recognize progress and accomplishments, no matter their scope.
  • Share with and invite feedback from your direct reports so employees feel heard.
  • Get direct reports in the habit of proactively asking for help.
  • Do what you say you will do and turn words into action.

4. Don’t be afraid to manage up

To become a better manager, you need to have the resources and trust of everyone who works above you. It can be challenging to manage your manager, but it’s a requirement for anyone who wants to lead effectively.

Build a relationship with your managers

First, you need to spend a portion of your time connecting with your leaders. Being a leader is a privilege, and part of that job is navigating office politics. Show your manager and CEO that you are serious about the position, share your department’s wins, and be a fierce advocate for your employees. Above all else, build a connection with the people that oversee your work. You want them on your side.

Share what you need to become a better manager

Once you’ve built a relationship, spend some time thinking about what you need to excel at your job. Maybe you need a personal development class, an outside mentor to give you management advice, or a new employee to be fully staffed. Then, create a plan to share how these additions will make you a better leader. Finally, present these ideas to the right people in your organization.

Follow-up to ensure you get what you need

Since your manager needs to consider other people, you might not get what you need right away. During one-on-ones with your manager, follow up when appropriate to get updated information on the items you asked for. While you’re waiting to get your needs fulfilled, implement anything that your manager was able to get for you.

5. Focus on the data

Last, if you wonder how to become a better manager, work on skills that make you indispensable to your organization by focusing on data. Being data-driven is a gift for companies across the country. Managers who focus too much on their own bias cost the company money and time. Businesses take in endless amounts of data, and managers who can interpret and act on this information drive high performance and have the most impact.

So, how does focusing on data work for managers? First, use management enablement tools to support your direct reports. Dive deep into the resources and information these tools provide to make good decisions for your department.

For example, you can use an employee engagement tool like 15Five to:

  • Gain insights from engagement assessments
  • Conduct performance reviews
  • Focus on what matters with OKRs and goals
  • Recognize your best employees
  • Hold one-on-ones with direct reports

Once you start using technology to run your department, analyze the data you get. What are 1-3 quick wins you can have for your department based on the numbers? Implement those ideas first, and share the results with higher-ups.

Key takeaways on how to become a better manager

Becoming a better manager comes down to a few simple strategies:

  • Use self-awareness and personal development to work on your management skills.
  • Be present for your direct reports so they have a place to go when they need help.
  • Work with your manager to ensure you have everything you need to succeed.
  • Become data-driven so that you can make the best choices as a leader.

When you start your career as a manager with these strategies in mind, you can accomplish great things for yourself, your employees, and your organization.