How To Become a Better Manager in 10 Steps (Plus Key Qualities)
Updated March 28, 2023
Managers are typically responsible for reaching company goals while also prioritizing the well-being of their team members. This requires a certain set of qualities to lead the team effectively. Learning what these qualities are and how to develop them may help you become a better leader and manager.
In this article, we define what a manager does, explain some qualities of an effective manager and share a step-by-step guide on how to become a better manager.
What does a manager do?
A manager is responsible for the following tasks:
Overseeing a team or department within a company or organization
Ensuring the correct and timely completion of specific projects
Acting as a liaison between their team and the company's senior leadership
Creating a vision for their team that aligns with the company's mission statement
Working to make daily operations more efficient and tailored to the company's goals
Tracking their team's progress and noting areas for improvement
Modeling professional expectations and behaviors to their team
Hiring and training new staff members
Working directly with clients or customers
Qualities of a good manager
Some of the most common qualities that comprise a good manager include:
The ability to monitor departmental spending along with maintaining the team's budget is essential. Managers are often responsible for ensuring their team is operating efficiently and working in a cost-effective manner. This may involve using spreadsheets to track spending, creating client invoices, and calculating project expenses.
It’s essential for managers to have excellent written and verbal communication skills. A good manager regularly communicates with their team to learn about their thoughts and attitudes towards projects, new work assignments and anything else concerning the workplace. This also helps ensure the team understands their responsibilities and helps them feel supported by their manager.
An effective manager always acts ethically, even when it may feel challenging. It's their job to set a good example for their team members. A good manager behaves appropriately and corrects any unprofessional behaviors they see.
Managers act as leaders who can guide their teams toward the company's goals and vision. Good managers also make personal goals and inspire their team to create career goals of their own. They can help their teams achieve success and support each individual team member in growing in their role.
It’s important for managers to be able to offer support, guidance and advice to their teams. Leadership skills help them oversee their team is doing what it is supposed to be doing. It’s also important to have strategies to motivate the team and help them keep a positive attitude at work.
How to be a better manager
Effective management is a learned skill that you can continue to develop throughout your career as a manager. Here are some steps to follow for how to be a better manager:
1. Learn how to inspire others
Inspire your team by getting to know each employee well. Help them each develop their own goals and core values. Then, as they work toward their goals, build trust with each employee by offering them positive feedback and support. Give them ideas on how they can improve their work and grow in their role.
Read more: How To Practice Inspirational Leadership
2. Find motivation techniques
Motivation is a way to help your team feel more productive and satisfied with their work. This may help them find meaning in their work, fostering a sense of connection between them and the organization and encouraging them to continue working hard. Here are a few motivation techniques you can use as a manager:
Keep communication open.
Offer positive feedback.
Implement a rewards system.
Give your team freedom with their projects.
Create a positive work environment.
Support career development opportunities.
Read more: The Best Ways To Motivate Your Team
3. Practice active listening
By listening and responding to your team, you can strengthen your relationships with them and help them feel more satisfied with their work. Become a better listener by dedicating time in your schedule to talk with each employee individually. Make them feel comfortable bringing up any questions or concerns with you. After they finish sharing, address their questions or think of solutions together.
4. Support collaboration and teamwork
Facilitate a collaborative work environment by encouraging teamwork among your staff members. One way to do this is through team-building activities. For example, you could plan a monthly team lunch or after-work activity.
Another idea is to make team meetings more personable. For instance, during each meeting, you could have employees answer a prompt such as "What is your favorite food?" or "Where is your favorite place to visit?" Lighthearted questions like these can help everyone get to know each other a little better.
5. Give and receive feedback
Help employees know how they are doing by giving them feedback regularly. Set a time to have employee performance reviews where you can talk about their achievements, goals and areas for improvement. Become a better manager by also asking your team to give you feedback.
A good way to do this is to have everyone fill out an anonymous survey. This helps ensure they feel comfortable sharing their real thoughts and feelings. After getting feedback, create a plan to improve the areas your team has highlighted.
6. Work on self-reflection
Despite a busy schedule, it's important to take a moment for some self-reflection. This may help you focus your thoughts and learn more about yourself as a manager. Ask yourself the following questions:
Would I like to have myself as a manager?
Am I a good communicator?
How can I make my team feel more comfortable?
How can I show my team I value their efforts?
What could I do to set a better example?
Am I making smart decisions as a manager?
Practicing self-reflection may also help you be more open to change. This process may allow you to identify areas of improvement and welcome them as opportunities rather than view them as challenges. This may ultimately promote more flexibility as a manager and encourage a positive attitude.
7. Set SMART goals
Setting goals for yourself and your team is an important part of being a good manager. This helps your team focus on what’s most important and establishes expectations. When setting goals, consider using the SMART method. This involves setting goals that are:
Specific: Choose a narrow goal for more effective planning.
Measurable: Identify the metrics you'll use to evaluate your progress.
Attainable: Make sure your goal is realistic.
Relevant: Focus your goal on your department's values and expectations.
Time-bound: Set an end date that can help you prioritize this goal.
8. Offer support and guidance
Keep communication open with your team and when you introduce a new project, try to provide clarity about your expectations. Let your team know they can come to you with any questions. Create resources that your team can refer to. Work on making processes more streamlined and straightforward.
9. Celebrate achievements
Acknowledge your team members for their successes. This demonstrates that you see and value their hard work, which may help them feel valued and more engaged with their work. For example, you can choose a team member to celebrate publicly each week or send private messages that recognize specific actions they took.
Read more: 22 Ways To Celebrate Wins at Work
10. Delegate tasks
Avoid feeling like you’re responsible for every task. Delegate tasks appropriately to your team to create a balanced workload. This also helps show your team that you trust their abilities. It may also provide you with more time to focus on improving as a manager rather than completing the day-to-day tasks another member of the team has the skills to complete.
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