Pushing your team to outperform is only one aspect of good management. Offering support and respect is also vital to a truly effective management style.
But as anyone in a managerial position knows, it’s not always easy being a good boss. After all, being a great manager requires you to fulfil so many roles: strategist, counsellor, and mentor to name just a few.
So how can you enhance your management technique in 2019?
We talked to successful managers from a variety of sectors and came up with these five steps to improve your leadership skills.
Be part of the team
Taking the time to understand and support the people working for you is the first step towards creating a happy, hardworking and loyal team. It’s also important that you come across as a team player, and not as someone who thinks they are above the other employees.
IT manager Dave Harris said: “One of the most important lessons I have learned since becoming a manager is that you should never ask someone to do something you aren’t prepared or able to do yourself.
“If you lead your team from the front in this way, you shouldn’t need to manage them as such.”
Helen Tomlinson, who runs a sports equipment supplier, agrees. “You have to be prepared to make the tea and sweep the floor, just like anyone else,” she said.
Organise regular team meetings, keep them casual and encourage everyone to have their say.
Keep the lines of communication open
Misunderstanding wastes time and can leave employees feeling demoralised, so it’s vital to be as clear as possible about what you need from your team.
To do this, you will need to communicate regularly with the individuals working for you, both on a one-to-one basis and as a team.
On the flip side, you also need to listen to what your employees or team members have to say. Whether they need to discuss a work matter or a personal issue, it’s important they feel you are available to support them.
“Watching and listening are vital elements of successful management,” Tomlinson said.
You may occasionally have to resolve conflicts that arise between members of your workforce. Try to do this quickly and firmly – but only after getting both sides of the story.
Reward good work
Too many bosses only get involved when things go wrong or weaknesses are exposed. So never miss an opportunity to congratulate your employees for work well done.
Everyone wants to be praised, particularly when they have worked hard on something. Knowing you appreciate their efforts should motivate them to work just as hard or harder in the future.
Landscape gardening company owner, Richard Cocker said, “Showing empathy towards the work load of an employees and offering sincere appreciation and gratitude towards the staff goes a long way.”
Praising individuals publicly can be good for morale. But if you need to give someone negative feedback, this should always be done in private.
Encourage individuality and personal development
Getting to know your employees better by listening to them, will allow you to help them play to their strengths.
While one individual may want to ascend the leadership ladder, another may be able to work more effectively if you allow them to do more flexible hours.
Cocker said, “As a manager it’s important to understand that not all people work in the same way or have the same personal goals.”
Even small changes such as a new seating arrangement can make a big difference to productivity. So ask your team for suggestions to improve the overall work environment, and do what you can to implement them.
Finding out what people value about their jobs will help you to split the workload accordingly, and should boost performance to boot.
Set realistic targets – and stick to them
We all need goals to work towards. So as a manager, it’s important you delegate work and set targets both for the team and for each individual. Doing this should help to give your employees purpose and direction, and ensure that everyone understands the business’s larger organisational ambitions.
However, be careful not to set too many targets, or pressure people to hit unrealistic goals, as this could have the opposite effect.
Once the targets are in place, you should also take the time to meet regularly with the team and its individual members to ensure they are on track and have not come across any major problems.
While regularly monitoring progress is a sensible step, micromanaging will stifle your employees. Trusting them to get on with a project will build their confidence and sense of involvement, and leave you free to deal with some of the many other aspects of being a good manager!
Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.