Are you interviewing for a new job and need to quickly gauge what sort of group you are getting into? Are you embarking on a management track or growing your management skills? Look for these six essential practices of a great manager.
1. Balance management styles
Wikipedia does a great job defining management style, but it is the balanced application of management style that makes a great manager.
Most of us get a gut feeling pretty quickly when working with a team. If you observe a lot of unmotivated people, high turnover, and hear banter about group politics, it’s a good sign that the management style isn’t working out.
On the other hand, if you notice the manager is looking out for the good of the business, customers, and employees, it inspires you and makes you feel valued. This involves some degree of flexibility in management style to meet everyone’s needs.
2. Set expectations, then coach individuals to meet them
Team members with different levels of drive and experience may require different levels of management input. When an employee isn’t meeting expectations, a manager will engage them right away. They will ask what challenges the employee is having with their workload, and teach them a better way to meet their goals.
3. Cultivate the right motivation
Good managers motivate team members by creating an environment where individual contributions matter and people can take pride in their work. This is the best way to build long-term engagement in the workforce.
Money can also be a powerful motivator, of course, but throwing money at a problem is only a short-term fix.
4. Regularly solicit feedback
Effective managers solicit constructive feedback. This allows individuals to feel comfortable contributing their thoughts and opinions. During normal working conditions, managers should regularly solicit input from the group. This is particularly important for matters affecting group workflow and performance.
During incident response or emergencies, great managers command the respect of their team members. Team members follow the chain of command without questioning orders. Managers can seek feedback during a post mortem.
5. Make decisions
In order to be a good manager, you have to be able to make decisions. People who are unable to be decisive and quickly address conflicts that arise will struggle as managers.
Some people have innate management qualities. Others may need take training and experience to reach their full potential as a manager. Training, including case studies and scenario-based role playing, can be very useful.
6. Encourage leadership
Leadership does not require management experience. Great managers encourage everyone in their team to be a leader. Leaders stand up for whats right and take the initiative when they see something that needs to be done. Businesses, teams, and networks need engineers that are leaders.
“But, you don’t have to take my word for it.”(Credit: Reading Rainbow) Check out the Next Level 4: Good Manager, Bad Manager podcast with two of the best network managers I know to hear what it takes in their own words.