How to be a good manager – Skills straight from the office floor
Chances are that you've read the management guides, management philosophies, intricate qualities of a good manager, management theories and a lot more. Let's forget the textbooks for a moment and immerse ourselves into a practical and real life perspective. What makes a good manager? What are the skills of a good manager? Let's take a look at the skills of a good manager from a real world perspective in a typical office environment.
For ease of illustration and for the benefit of the reader, a male gender in the form of 'him' has been used throughout this article however this should not be misunderstood as a gender bias. Women and men can both make good managers.
1) A good manager is not necessarily a good worker
Did you think that a good manager can crack as many sales as the best performing team member? Probably not. The work of a manager revolves around managing people, and not driving the actual performance of the team. The team members drive the performance while the manager drives the team. Get the point?
2) A good manager delegates efficiently
As cheesy as it sounds, people who can delegate tasks effectively often make the best of managers. They know exactly who will be the best suited person for a task and they know exactly how to get the work done from them.
For example, in a typical organizational hierarchy, the CEO will pass on work to the top level executives who will then pass it through to the department heads. The department heads will pass it on to the team managers and the team managers will pass on the work to capable team members. As you can is, management is nothing but the art of delegating work to the right people at the right time. The team member bears the actual brunt of the workload.
3) A good manager does not mince his words
Being nice and managing people don't always go together well. Yes, managers mince their words while addressing teams as an entire unit to be politically correct. But in conversations behind closed doors and performance reviews, good managers will not mince their words in showing appreciation or displeasure. The ability to give clear and crisp instructions and direction is the basic skill of a good manager.
4) A good manager overlooks imperfections
It would be a dream come true for any manager to have a team in which all team members are outstanding performers. However, that often remains a dream rather than a reality. As individuals, we all have our imperfections. Managers must realize this and try to work with the imperfections of each team member rather trying to mould each team member to perfection. The skill of a good manager lies in the art of 'letting go' and saving the painful talks for when they are really required.
5) A good manager skillfully balances performance and people
Every manager has to face balancing performance/profits vs. people. This can be a tough moral dilemma because in some cases the benefit of the company may overrule the benefit of the team member. Decisions in this regard can be hard to make and managers usually tread on a fine line trying to maintain a good balance between the both.
6) A good manager does not go back on his decisions
"Written in stone" is what happens when a managers gives out a decision in front of his team members. Reversing decisions or going back on what was decided earlier is an absolute no-no for managers who take pride in their decision making skills. A good manager will put in foresight and insight to take the best decision, given the information that he has at that time. Going back on a decision is simply not an option.
7) A good manager has a grip over his moods
Let's put ourselves in the shoes of a manager for a minute. On one hand, the CEO of your company just came in and gave you the ultimatum to either increase the performance of your team or to lose your job. On the other, two of your team members had a massive argument that needs to be addressed immediately and you need to play the role of a mediator. Adding to your worries, a client complain needs to be urgently dealt with. All this is happening while you have just missed your lunch and your partner is nagging you by calling again and again on your cell phone. Having a head spin? Would you be able to keep a poker face while enduring all this at once?
Having total and absolute control over mood, emotion and expression is a skill that all great managers have.
8) A good manager does not give excuses
The responsibility of a team's performance lies on the shoulders of a manager. He is the one who will need to stand up and say "the buck stops with me" A good manager will not be found giving excuses to his superior. He will utilize resources and be a level headed thinker to get the job done, whether by hook or crook.
9) A good manager loves people management
All great managers take pride in the fact that they are able to mould and manage individuals to work for them. Call this a skill or call it a passion, it is generally considered a prerequisite for any aspiring manager.
10) A good manager procrastinates
Surprised? Don't be, because this is not what you think it is. Take a peek into the office of a manager of a busy team and you will find stacks of paperwork and files lying left right and center. Piles of paperwork generally mean pending work and surely a manager cannot be expected to deal with each and every pending task at once. Here comes the skill and art of prioritizing work that is important, and procrastinating the work that can be left for a certain tomorrow. Yes, procrastination is an absolute no-no when it comes to theories from management textbooks. But step into the real world into the life of a busy manager and you will note that work life is incomplete without procrastination on a daily basis.