Five ways to be a better manager

Good management is as much about managing up as managing down

If you asked your employees to describe the traits of a perfect manager, what do you think they would say? Relaxed or inspiring, reasonable or passionate, everyone has their own idea about what makes a good leader. If you want to improve your managerial skills, you need to focus on a wide range of areas and remember that there is always room to grow.

Manage performance regularly

Performance management should not be something done once a year at the annual review. If something is going wrong, the worst thing you can do is leave it for months before attempting to correct it. Make sure that your team members know what is expected of them, and regularly update them on their performance.

If someone does excellent work, tell them about it; if they need to improve or develop their skills, tactfully let them know and give them the opportunity to improve.

Bend like a reed in the wind

You need to be flexible yet consistent; too rigid and you will snap (literally), too flexible and you will find you are pushed off course. Be aware that sometimes you have to do things in a new way.

If there is a deadline looming and two members of your team are off sick, now is not the time to insist everyone else goes out for the weekly two-hour Friday lunch social you instigated to improve team bonding. Yes, it is a good idea – but not this week.

Develop a thick skin

Good management is as much about managing up as managing down, which often means delivering unpopular news or instructions one way or another. When people get angry, remember that it is usually about the situation rather than you. Learn to shrug things off and always stay professional.

Keep growing

Learn from experience, and put lessons learned into practice. Also keep up with your staff, especially if you work in a fast-moving sector – and with the digital age, this is most sectors. If a member of your team is absent, you may not know exactly how to do everything they do; however, you should be able to instruct, support and manage someone who does.

Network with the right people

Especially useful in large organisations, getting things done is as much about knowing the right people as having the best ideas or the most talented team. Build links with your opposite numbers in other departments.

If you want to boost productivity by taking advantage of a new piece of software, you need to have your IT team on board; if you want to launch a new product, your sales team needs to be brought on board early; if you want access to the CEO, make friends with his PA.

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