Effective management skills don’t come naturally to everyone, and even great leaders can stand to brush up their skills from time to time. As workplace conventions change and project management tools evolve, it’s important to keep learning new leadership skills so you can maintain a positive work environment for your team.If you’re wondering how to be a better manager, here are five easy steps you can take to improve your skill set and empower your team members.
How Do You Improve As a Manager?
Improving as a manager starts with learning how to be a good communicator. It’s your job to keep your team members on the same page on a day-to-day basis, as well as to ensure that they understand your overall organizational goals and company policies.Great managers are also good listeners, and they use their active listening skills to check in with their direct reports and relay concerns back to upper management. Being a good manager requires people skills, empathy, and emotional intelligence.Here are the key skill sets to focus on when learning how to be a good manager:
As a manager, it’s your responsibility to set goals and ensure that employees know why they’re doing the work that they’re doing. How do their day-to-day responsibilities align with your team goals and the long-term goals of your company?According to Gallup, only 41% of U.S. employees “strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for,” and only 13% “strongly agree that their organization's leadership communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.”How can you get better at goal-setting? The best managers use tools like the SMART goal framework, which dictates that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When team members know what their goals are, you can give them more leeway to take the initiative and call some of the shots.
Knowing how to delegate tasks goes hand-in-hand with goal-setting. Once you have a set of goals in mind, you can break them down into smaller tasks and use the project management triangle to keep track of a project’s scope, cost, and timeline — and to keep these three factors under control.But inexperienced managers have a hard time letting go and insist on micromanaging everything, leading to unnecessary delays and poor decision-making.Effective leaders use task management software to delegate tasks to team members. You’ll still be able to keep an eye on things and track your team’s progress, but you’ll spend less time sweating the small stuff and more time on strategic decisions.
Keeping Employees Engaged
Developing a sense of teamwork can be especially challenging in a world of remote work. But it’s essential to keep your employees engaged, whether you share a physical work environment or use remote collaboration tools to improve productivity.Improving employee engagement involves checking in with your team members about their job satisfaction and helping them advance their own career development goals.You can use performance reviews to identify poor performance and as a means to develop a plan to help underachieving employees. But also don’t overlook the importance of an employee recognition program to reward hard work.
So much of being a successful manager comes down to knowing how to lead effective meetings. From recurring team meetings to one-on-one skip-level meetings, you need to be able to get down to business while keeping things interesting and engaging.Good leaders don’t schedule meetings just to fill time, but to meet a specific purpose, such as setting goals, brainstorming project ideas, or even just building rapport.You can get better at running meetings by creating an organized meeting agenda and using an automated note-taking tool to take notes.
Finally, effective leaders don’t push their team members so hard that they get burned out. Good managers pay attention to their team’s well-being, and they encourage frequent breaks and downtime so employees don’t feel overwhelmed at work.Different generations have different expectations when it comes to work-life balance, and some team members may struggle to take time off.Let employees know that they can set boundaries around their personal life, and that it’s OK for them to have other priorities outside of work. Respect their time off the clock, and don’t expect communication 24/7.
How to Be a Better Manager in 5 Steps
Now that you know which leadership techniques and soft skills go into being a good manager, how do you put them into practice? Learn how to be a better manager by following these five actionable steps:
1. Identify Your Goals
First, make sure that your team goals are in clear alignment with your company’s goals. If you need to, speak with upper management to learn more about upcoming projects and long-term company objectives. Then speak with your employees to find out about their own skill sets and professional development goals.The more you can bring individual goals and company goals into alignment, the more productive your team will be.
2. Choose a Management Style
Next, choose your project management technique or leadership style. Some companies require rigid management styles with built-in hierarchies, while others may allow you the freedom to develop your own management style at the project level.Your personal management style can range from autocratic, in which you call the shots, to democratic or nonhierarchical, in which everyone on your team has an equal say in what goes on and contributes to goal-setting and decision-making.You can also encourage your employees to develop self-management skills, in which case you’ll still be responsible for delegating tasks but they’ll have more control over their personal to-do list and their individual approach to time management.
3. Develop Your Communication Skills
Some leadership skills get better with practice, but you can also learn how to be a better manager by taking a leadership development course. If you want to hone your skills in a specific area, consider a course in mediation or conflict resolution.Remember, your job is to be an authority figure, an active listener, and a motivational speaker, all in one! Even the best managers need to level up their skills from time to time or learn new skills in an external setting.
4. Use the Right Tools
The right tools can make all the difference between being a great leader and a mediocre one. Task management tools, time management tools, and other collaboration tools can help you reduce your workload and streamline your workflows.From Slack to Zoom to Anchor AI, there are dozens of apps out there that can help you get more out of meetings and motivate your team.You can even use task automation to automate recurring tasks, such as adding team meetings to your calendar or adding action items to your to-do list.
5. Focus on Mentorship
Learning how to be a good manager is an ongoing process. As you welcome new team members and navigate departures and promotions, you’ll be constantly faced with new challenges and evolving relationships on your team. One thing that’s important to keep constant is a focus on one-on-one mentorship and continuous feedback.Developing strong and mutually supportive relationships with your employees will make your job easier and reduce employee turnover. Plus, you’ll be able to identify skill gaps at your organization and provide the career development opportunities that your team members need to reach their full potential.
Be a Better Manager With Anchor AI
Being a good manager requires a combination of soft skills — like active listening and conflict resolution — and a willingness to embrace new tools and technologies. Great managers know when to delegate tasks, when to do things themselves, and when to use software to expand their capabilities.AI-powered tools like Anchor AI can help you become a better manager by facilitating communication and task delegation. From taking meeting minutes to identifying action items, Anchor AI can help you take care of tedious and time-consuming tasks so you can spend more time motivating and supporting your team.Sign up for free and try out Anchor AI for yourself!