How To Be a Good Manager: 10 Tips (Plus Characteristics)

Updated December 9, 2022

A team meets in an office meeting room. A writing board is seen to the left of them, and the team sits at a large table in front of a wall of windows.

A manager is a person who oversees a group/team, a project, a process or other entity to ensure its success. While there are many different ways to be an effective manager, there are a few key characteristics and skills you can develop to ensure success when managing a team toward its goals. If you’re interested in management, you can benefit from learning how to become a good manager.

In this article, we explore 10 ways to be a good manager, as well as review strategies for new managers and the characteristics and skills that can make a manager a great one.

Key takeaways:

  • Good managers listen to the team and create a welcoming environment.

  • Giving and receiving feedback helps managers improve.

  • Managers can continuously develop their management skills throughout their careers.

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How to be a good manager

Becoming a great manager is a learned skill that requires diligence and continuous development over time. Here are 10 ways you can work toward being a good manager first:

1. Maintain open lines of communication

Communication skills are one of the most important skills for managers. Establishing and maintaining open lines of communication with your team can help you better understand their needs, work with them on achieving tasks and decrease any possible misunderstanding. While it's important to possess strong communication skills as a manager, you can also support your team in building their skills in this area.

Read more: Management Communication: 18 Ways Managers Can Improve It

Tip: Building working relationships with the team based on trust can go a long way in promoting a positive workplace.

2. Support team collaboration

Collaboration is the act of working effectively with others toward a shared goal. Encouraging a collaborative team and workspace creates a better, more enjoyable place to work. The more people enjoy working together, the more efficient their work may be as they develop professional relationships.

Establishing a collaborative work environment starts with providing team members with individual expectations and building trust. For example, when employees have been assigned a task or a project, a supportive manager trusts them to complete the job as discussed. Creating a relationship with employees based on mutual trust goes a long way in promoting a positive workplace.

Related: Teamwork and Collaboration: What They Are and How To Improve Them

3. Make expectations clear

It's helpful when managers provide clarity about their expectations for each person on the team. For example, an organizational chart that outlines the department's goals and defines an individual or team's task assignments is a great way to clearly establish expectations.

As changes to the work process are added or updated, the manager can encourage communication among the employees as to how the updates are working and then request feedback so it's a collaborative effort. Involve the team in the process.

Related: How To Communicate Expectations To Employees

4. Provide and receive feedback

To understand your managerial strengths and areas for improvement, be proactive and ask for consistent feedback from your team. What’s more, it’s also important to provide feedback to your team as it arises so they’re also consistently aware of what their strengths are and what they can work on to achieve their goals. Consider scheduling regular opportunities, like 1-on-1 meetings, to both give and receive formal feedback.

Read more: Giving and Receiving Feedback: Definition and Examples

5. Listen to all members of the team

When managers listen and respond to their team, it fosters a sense of confidence and an honest, open workplace. One way to ensure everyone feels like their input is valued is to schedule weekly and/or monthly team meetings.

In some cases, a quick meeting each morning may be a better option to jumpstart the day and take care of any questions, concerns or unfinished business. In these meetings or stand-ups, managers can listen, take notes, ask direct questions, encourage participation from all team members and close each meeting on a positive note to let everyone know they've been acknowledged.

Related: Passive vs. Active Listening: What's the Difference?

6. Acknowledge successes

An essential part of a manager's responsibilities is knowing the role of each employee, the skills they possess and how well they do their job. Consider preparing suggestions, programs and resources for your team so that they’ll feel supported in achieving their own goals. Employees who are supported, acknowledged and appreciated by their manager(s) often feel compelled to continue growing and stay at the company for longer periods of time.

Tip: Good managers are often aware of how an employee performs and how they can improve.

Related: 22 Ways To Celebrate Wins at Work

7. Set a positive example

As a manager, it's vital you set an example of the type of work environment you expect your employees to support. Doing so means communicating and collaborating, providing helpful feedback, displaying a work ethic, showing appreciation for a job well done, supporting other team members and being willing to help when needed.

It's best for team members when managers are approachable, supportive, attentive and trustworthy. These types of managers encourage employees to treat each other in the same way. Building trust and confidence within the team is a key factor in becoming a successful manager.

Related: Positive Leadership: 32 Traits of Positive Leaders

8. Establish achievable goals

A good manager sets clear and achievable goals that are in line with the larger organizational goals, mission and vision. There are many options for how you might approach goal-setting, including OKRs and SMART goals.

Establish a specific measurement of success so your team knows exactly what they should be working toward. Keep an open line of communication about how your team is progressing toward their goals and advocate for them when roadblocks arise.

Related: Stretch Goals vs. SMART Goals: What's the Difference?

9. Provide training

Good managers are often aware of how employees perform and how they can improve. This awareness is accomplished by assessing all aspects of the operation and determining where improvements are needed, and then implementing changes to streamline the process.

One way to do this is through employee training. Opportunities such as on-the-job training, mentoring via one-on-one instruction and team training sessions provide employees with a structured and organized program.

Read more: 7-Step Guide for Creating an Effective Training Program

10. Understand your role

To be an effective manager, it's best to understand your role and how it fits within the larger organization. Try to evaluate your strengths as a manager and which areas you should focus on improving.

If you need to gain more understanding of the very nature of your role and how to grow in it, you can turn to your own supervisor for direction as well as support. Regardless of how long you've held a manager role, continuing to learn is an ongoing process. To this end, take advantage of management training opportunities that cover comprehensive development skills to keep growing professionally.

Related: How To Be a More Effective Manager: 18 Ways To Improve

Characteristics of a good manager

There are several strategies you can use to become a good manager. However, it's also important for managers to have certain skills that equip them for the role. Here are a few characteristics of a good manager: 

  • Collaborative attitude: Collaborative managers can help foster an environment where employees feel welcome and respected. This helps teams work together, build trust and solve problems collectively.

  • Growth-oriented: Often, good managers are growth-oriented, which means they care about short-term and long-term goals. This mindset also helps good managers support employees who want to progress.

  • Communicative: Communication skills are how managers relate to employees. Consider creating communication norms and guidelines for your team to follow so everyone has a voice.

  • Motivational: The ability to motivate your team members to develop professionally is another characteristic of a good manager. Motivational managers provide encouragement as well as support that set team members up for success.

Tip: It’s important for managers to learn how to work with team members individually, as every person is different.

Read more: New To Management: 20 Tips for New Managers

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Work to improve your leadership skills

If you want to succeed in management and become a good manager for your team(s), consider continuing to develop leadership skills throughout your career. Approach professional development as a lifelong process.

As a manager, focus on the key soft skills that will help you be a great leader. For example, active listening is a soft skill that helps leaders hear the ideas and concerns of their team. Empathy helps leaders understand how the team feels about certain aspects of their job, such as their daily workload, environment and workplace relationships.

Related: 11 Ways To Demonstrate Your Leadership Skills at Work

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