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5 Actionable Ways to Become a Better Manager

Become a Better Manager
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People don’t quit jobs – they quit bosses. You’ve probably heard this one a few times. You’ve also probably left a job or two because the manager was impossible to bear, even though the work was fulfilling, challenging and paid well.

Great managers make people excel in the workplace, while bad managers make employees hate their jobs, drink excessive amounts of coffee and use their time at work to find another job instead of being productive.

Here are a few ways you can become the kind of manager people are happy to work with.

Delegate some of your work

This is a struggle of even some of the best managers out there, because it happens without them noticing it. Great managers don’t do all of the work themselves – they understand the value of delegating work to their staff. However, not many managers are willing to let others handle some of their workload.

So, why don’t managers delegate?

There are a few reasons why some managers don’t want to let others take some work off their plate. The first one is simple – they don’t think the other person can do the job as well as them. However, with proper training, this is an unfounded fear.

The second reason is that the manager wants to be irreplaceable. However, everyone can be replaced – it’s just a matter of how expensive and time-consuming it is to replace them and hire someone new.

Third, managers think that it would take more time to train someone to do their work than they would save time by delegation. In other words, the time saved would be minimal compared to the time invested in teaching someone to do the task. This is completely subjective and could be true, but delegation has its benefits, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

Fourth, and perhaps most legitimate reason for not delegating is that the staff is already overworked and there’s no one to delegate to. Or finally, the manager enjoys doing the work so much that they simply don’t want to delegate.

Why managers should delegate work

The first and most obvious reason is to free up time. As soon as mundane and repetitive tasks are delegated, managers have more time to tackle tasks that are vitally important. Second and equally important, employees will feel valued and know that the manager trust them and their work once they are the one doing it.

The final and most practical reason is that once work is delegated, the employees will know how to do it even if the manager is not around, for one reason or another.

The same rules for everyone

One of the companies I worked for (before I joined the wonderful team at Chanty) was largely focused on sales. As you may or may not know, the fourth quarter of the year is when everyone gets crazy about selling, as it’s the time before budgets are made in the new year. This is the time when no one in the company gets more than 2 days off at a time… Except for the managers, who took days off as they pleased.

Needless to say, none of the employees were too happy about it. The reason was – they had rules for everyone else and rules for the managers specifically. Or in the words of George Orwell, some animals are more equal than others.

Employees equalityImage source

To become a better manager, try leading by example instead of setting rules which apply only to your employees. If they see that you follow the rules you set yourself, they will see that you practice what you preach and they will be happier with your leadership.

Don’t micromanage

The bane of every employee’s existence, the reason why so many people would rather get punched in the stomach than have another meeting with their boss. Micromanaging happens when managers obsess over details and control every aspect of their employees’ work. This leaves employees with no freedom to think and make independent decisions. Needless to say, micromanagers are not amongst the most popular type in the workplace.

MicromanagementImage source

The first way to prevent micromanagement is to do something I already mentioned – delegate, but delegate with confidence. Leave the work to skilled employees and only tune in to check up on the results.

A great way to do this is the 95-95 rule. Simply put, try to be happy with 95% of the work for 95% of the time and you will spend 95% less time micromanaging. Although the numbers aren’t exactly scientifically proven, the message is the same – you can’t always be 100% content with the work that’s been done.

That’s why great managers focus on the results and not processes. If you focus on every single detail of what your employees are doing, you’re losing sight of the big picture. Set goals and give timelines, then catch up with your team to see how they’re performing. This management style will leave more time for your own tasks and your team can make their own decisions and work without constraints.

By the way, if you want to find out if you’re a micromanager, here are 20 questions to ask yourself.

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Try to be a good communicator

The primary reason why some people get promoted in managerial positions is their expertise and experience. However, a great manager also needs to have a broad range of soft skills, primarily the ability to communicate well.

First and foremost, communicate clearly. Many times, the reason why deadlines are missed and employees don’t deliver the results you expect is because you haven’t clearly communicated what needs to be done and by which date.

The second reason why conflicts arise and managers get a bad rap is lack of listening. When your employees are addressing you, make sure you’re actually listening and paying attention. Often times, managers only appear to be listening, while they’re merely preparing an answer in their minds, without paying attention to the person on the other end and their non-verbal communication.

A good way to improve your communication skills is to become more available. While you can’t be open to communication all the time, make sure your employees have means to contact you and share their thoughts. Whether this is physically or digitally (using a tool such as Chanty), have an open line of communication with your employees.

Tell it like it is

While words of praise are always welcome, sometimes the job isn’t done all that great. In situations like those, it’s up to you as the manager to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The way to prevent it is to openly give feedback, without sugarcoating or euphemisms.

The reason is simple – it hinders communication, and if your employees don’t get proper and honest feedback, they won’t know where they need to improve. As tempting as it may be to be mild to your employees to avoid being seen as the bad manager, this will harm your work in the long run.

This is not to say that it’s a good idea to go to the other extreme and reprimand employees for every single mistake they make as they go through their workday. Make sure your feedback is open, constructive and related to overall goals.

Conclusion

Being a great manager is much more than handling out orders and having a busy schedule. Great managers know how to delegate, communicate well, give honest feedback and stay away from the traps of micromanagement.

Do you know some other ways to become a better manager? Do you have any stories to share about exceptional managers you’ve worked with? Please let us know in the comments!

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Mile Živković

Mile Živković is a content writer and work-life balance expert at Chanty – a simple, AI-powered Slack alternative. When Mile isn't busy writing epic posts on productivity, work-life balance and time management for Chanty blog, he's probably driving somewhere. His hobbies include cars (huge fan of Alfa Romeo), photography and collecting pocket knives. You can catch him on LinkedIn.

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