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8 Techniques to Become a Better Manager of People
The differences between a mediocre manager and an extraordinary one are many.
Depending on the specific managers in question, there are likely to be many differences in style and approach between any individual and the next.
But which combination makes for the perfect manager?
1. Strive for Personal Fulfillment
The desire to become a better manager is the pinnacle of actually becoming one.
A lackadaisical manager often has little tolerance for acknowledging how they can become better and it’s exactly this fact which prevents them from ever progressing. If the key to becoming a better manager of people is the desire to want to become one then, in essence, the ambition of striving to learn and implement techniques to improve as a manager is essential. Refusing to become nonchalant and believing firmly in ones quest to improve will ensure you find yourself becoming a successful leader of people.
2. Strengthen Emotional Intelligence
Each individual has an inherent level of emotional intelligence and some are unquestionably gifted to interpret and display it better than others.
It’s been proven many times over that managers with highly developed emotional intelligence have a much better ability to understand their staff. This tends to surface on both a personal and professional level and goes a long way to explain their success as an effective leader of people.
3. Invest in Making Connections
Adopting a personal approach to your interactions with others contributes to their feelings of respect and being valued.
Managers who fail to invest in team building relationships with their staff often leave their people feeling disconnected and underappreciated. Consequently, learning about your staff on an individual basis helps build stronger connections and assists with the development of collaborative working relationships. It also contributes to strengthening the team as a whole because it affords you the ability to steer your ‘team’ ship towards a positive level of communication and exchange of information, thereby creating a more effective working environment.
It's almost impossible to improve if you're not aware of areas that need improvement. How will you know that you're not well understood if no one tells you?
A good manager of people welcomes feedback on their own performance. In addition, they create opportunities to become more aware of how their performance is perceived and the consequences it has on others.
Asking for formal or informal feedback from employees or receiving peer review feedback from colleagues are all great ways to increase your ability to look inside yourself, which in turn can assist in retaining your staff in the long term. On the other hand, you may request feedback from your own manager or relevant partner at peer level within your business. Combining 360 degree feedback from people above you as well as those whom you manage will place you in the valuable position of building an accurate representation. This will ultimately assist you to identify your own areas for development in terms of how you manage people.
5. Ongoing Education
Just as many jobs require up-skilling and further education on a continuous basis, a successful leader should also be willing to participate in ongoing education when it comes to management style and personal development.
He or she will seek out opportunities to learn new techniques for managing staff, and search for ways to learn how to better manage people. What works best for one manager and employee may not be the strategy that works best for the next. Particularly when faced with the challenge of managing difficult staff, a strong people manager will likely seek out formal education to assist in strengthening their management skills and ability.
See our pages on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Lifelong Learning for more information.
6. Developing Patience
As a manager, patience is one of the most critical skills you can learn.
You may consider yourself a very patient person, but the workplace is not the best place to learn that you may not actually be particularly patient when put to the test. A good manager doesn’t run on a short fuse, nor will staff be scared to approach him or her for fear of a blow-up. Developing your patience, and being known for integrating patience into the every-day management of your team, is essential.
Any new staff need to witness that you have patience during their on-boarding process and while they learn the ropes. Existing staff need to believe you have the patience to cope with challenging situations and that you won’t jump ship, or blow off steam immediately, when presented with difficult times.
Another soft skill displayed by strong people leaders is that of fairness.
It’s perfectly human to prefer certain people over others, and sometimes you’ll find your personality simply clicks with some in your team, and not others.
A good manager has the ability to stand above this and exert fairness in their authority. The manager able to do this will gain respect for being fair even if they get along with some staff better than others. Favoritism is not part of the job but leading a team to success, is.
As Michale Pollon says, "I think perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not."
8. Exude Enthusiasm
Exuding enthusiasm for what one does is a sure fire way to attract others.
People become excited when working with a manager who enjoys what they do. A manager who exudes genuine pride and enthusiasm for his or her work is inspiring, and people recognize when apparent happiness is merely a facade.
A good people manager will dedicate time at work to improving the quality of their work as well as investing in their staff, and it’s this combination that becomes infectious to others.
Building a high performing team isn’t easy, and one of the best ways of doing so is to lead by example.
Work towards the ultimate goal of inspiring each individual cog in the machine to work as effectively as possible. People perform best when inspired and motivated to do so, so it’s critical to take pride in your work and exude the confidence and enthusiasm that you know how to do it best.
About the Author
Joe Flanagan is a Senior Consultant at Velvet Jobs, an outplacement services provider. They also provide a resume builder and job search facility for job seekers and employers across the globe. Joe’s expertise includes recruitment, resume writing and workplace issues.