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What Makes a Good Manager (The Ultimate Guide of Dos and Don’ts)

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A good manager is not a person who can do the work better than his men; he is a person who can get his men to do the work better than he can.” – Frederick W. Smith

Most employees would do anything to earn the opportunity to become a manager. But why? What makes them yearn to earn this tag?

Is it just the respect that comes with the title? Or is it the added responsibility that comes with it? Or, is it simply the feeling of satisfaction in achieving a career milestone?

Millennial managers series

Well, the answer is all of it. It’s the combination of all of these feelings that pushes us hard to rise above our peers and take charge of one of the most crucial positions in an organization. That said, while the managerial position does have its benefits in terms of career development, it can also be a thankless role. 

The reason why I say that is because a good manager has to keep a fine balance between employees’ needs and requirements, business goals, and their well-being and aspirations. And, that’s easier said than done. 

More often than not, managers have to manage so many things at the same time that they experience constant stress. They are held solely responsible for both the success and failure of projects as well as the performance of the teams they are leading. While the entire blame for project failure is placed on the manager, the credit for its success is often given to the whole team. So, if you have just earned this opportunity, you better pull your socks up and prepare yourself for challenging (as well as rewarding) times ahead. 

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Mistakes a Good Manager Should Never Make

Let’s travel back to the time when we started our professional careers. Over the years, we have worked for various organizations and under different people. From all those times, we can easily pick the ones who were not that good with managing people and influencing others. And, we certainly remember those managers who were exceptionally good in their role and inspired us to be a better version of ourselves. 

I’m sure most of us also remember our past managers for their good and bad managerial qualities. What was it that we didn’t like or admire about them? Were they poor or good motivators? Were they easy or difficult to access? 

We might have varied opinions on our past managers, but the fact is they have all played part in shaping our careers. Make no mistake about it, the managerial role is a demanding job with additional responsibilities. You cannot act or perform the same way in a managerial role as you did as a regular employee. 

I would now move on to divide this article into two parts. The first part enlightens readers on mistakes that good managers should never make, and the second part focuses on things that good managers must do. I have done this to give readers a clear and better understanding of what good managers are expected to do and what not. 

Amid grueling schedules, it can be easy for managers to commit mistakes unknowingly that can have a negative influence on their subordinates. Horrible Mistakes That Good Managers Should NEVER Make While Leading Their Team:

1. Micromanagement 

A survey of Trinity Solutions and published in My Way or the Highway reports that almost 79% of respondents had experienced micromanagement.

Remember how annoyed you used to get when your manager always used to peek over your shoulders at work? Now, remember all the nice things (pun intended) that you uttered in your mouth as you were constantly watched over by your managers many times in a day. The point here is that no employee likes to be micromanaged and a good manager must bear this in mind.  

Employees want a certain degree of freedom. They want managers to feel confident in their skills and abilities to perform a given job. Intrusive observations, manipulation, and exhaustive communication send a clear message to employees that managers do not back their capabilities, which can make them feel defeated, paranoid, and unappreciated. No employee can develop his/her skills when managers do not show complete faith in their teams and individuals. 

Great Managers are Leaders

2. Spoon-feeding Solutions

Good managers don’t serve everything to their employees on plates. Rather, they develop and fine-tune their skills in a way that they can resolve the trickiest of situations on their own. That said, some managers have this tendency of over-providing solutions for their teams. They are quick when it comes to offering solutions that their employees can find themselves with more effort than usual.

This habit of spoon-feeding solutions prevents employees from doing all the hard work of seeking the best solution themselves. By always helping employees with “the solutions”, managers are not allowing their team members to put their thinking caps on and take ownership of the problem at hand. Managers need not act like a school teacher who is always accessible whenever the team encounters problems.

3. Failing To Define Goals

Poor planning and inability to define goals do not do your team any good. Some managers fail to define goals for their employees who struggle with their work throughout the day. They have no idea why they’re doing work, or what their work means for themselves and the organization they’re working for. They can’t be productive when they do not have a direction or vision for work. 

They also fail to prioritize work, which means they complete projects and tasks in the wrong order. When employees don’t see career growth in their jobs, they tend to switch jobs. On the other hand, goal-setting too can backfire if objectives are overly ambitious and unattainable. Good managers always set attainable goals for employees and reward them for achieving them. 

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4. Leading With Egoistic Mindset 

As the American proverb puts it, “ Arrogance is a kingdom without a crown.” Hubris has always been one of the main causes of conflict and grief. Arrogant managers think that since they are in charge of their teams, it’s because they are more skilled and competent than others. Such managers tend to show their supremacy to their subordinates from time to time. 

They think they have the best ideas and information, and use their position to manipulate others. Many employees express anguish over arrogant, egoistic managers who are unfit to lead. In other words, the inflated ego narrows our vision. We lose perspective and we only hear and see what we want to. As a result, managers lose touch with their team members, which further widens the gap between both sides. 

5. Displaying Blatant Favoritism

Being seasoned professionals, we are well aware of office politics and favoritism. It’s disheartening and demoralizing for employees when they already know who’ll be the next person to be promoted to higher positions just because he/she enjoys a close relationship with a manager. Poor managers are quite good at showing who they favor over others, irrespective of an individual’s abilities or lack of them. 

Managers displaying signs of favoritism at work can disrupt the workplace. This unhealthy practice in the workplace sends the wrong signal to employees, except for those who enjoy the manager’s special attention. People are likely to believe that hard, honest work doesn’t bear fruits because to grow within the organization, a worker would have to earn a place in the manager’s good books. 

Now that you’ve read about some dreadful mistakes that should be avoided by managers (both experienced and new), we will now discuss some eminent qualities that good managers have, and aspiring managers must have. 

There are countless organizations in history that have fared exceptionally well under good managers. Without an experienced and competent captain to steer the ship, the crew is constantly at the risk of losing direction and encountering several problems. 

As John C. Maxwell has put it, “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”  

Given below are five key qualities that separate good managers from mediocre and poor managers. The latter can take a leaf out of the book of the former to improve his/her management skills significantly. 

Qualities That Make A Good Manager

1. They Align Organizational Purpose With Team Goals 

Collaborate Across Project Management Tool

These are times when businesses are undergoing a massive transformation as regulatory changes, competition, and technological innovations are regularly updated. Organizations today need to be dynamic in order to adjust and adapt to the latest developments. Good managers don’t just tell their employees to do tasks; they also tell them why they need to do what they are assigned to do. 

Employees who connect their work with the mission of their organization feel their job is more important and their work holds much significance. However, the majority of employees are still unsure about how their work contributes to the “big picture”. Good managers help them understand the value of their work and how it’s vital to achieve organizational goals. 

2. They Demonstrate Empathy With Their Team

A study by research firm DDI shows that empathy is one of the main drivers of overall performance amongst managers. Another study by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCI) shows that managers with an empathetic behavior toward their team are viewed as good performers by their bosses. 

Empathetic managers understand the emotions of their team members. They understand how team members are feeling and this quality enables them to communicate effectively and solve problems right in the bud. As a result, their employees trust them more and managers can build rapport, which fuels team success. Being empathic towards employees equips good managers to form personal bonds with employees and foster long-term relationships with them. 

3. They Delegate Tasks Effectively 

Good managers delegate tasks effectively. They demonstrate faith in their employees’ ability to perform delegated tasks and allow them to learn new skills and develop strengths that they might not otherwise know they have. Good managers don’t delegate tasks randomly; they identify potential within their teams and assign work to the right people using the right methods and tools.

Good managers delegate tasks and split responsibilities according to the potential and talent within teams. This helps to significantly improve overall organizational efficiency as well as time management. Assigning important tasks also helps team members develop confidence in their abilities, which motivates them further to put in their best efforts. 

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4. They Set Clear Goals And Expectations 

Point out Other People’s Potential

Clarity is the pathway to solid results, but a recent survey shows that 42% of employees have cited having unclear goals as their biggest source of stress. Good managers are quite direct and specific about their expectations from employees. They don’t give broad and vague instructions – thereby leaving no space for ambiguity. Whether it’s small daily tasks or a long-term project, good managers have a clear idea of what they expect from every employee, based on their ability and capacity. 

Many good managers use the SMART goal method to define expectations. They also validate their expectations with specific reasons as to how these will positively affect you, your organization, and the employees themselves. When employees understand the reasoning behind the task, they’ll be more compliant and eager to take the required steps to meet expectations. 

5. They Make Communication A Priority 

Navigate the Tough Conversations with Poise

Effective communication is the key to not only maintaining amicable relationships in the workplace but also delivering work successfully. Good managers are the first ones to recognize this, and therefore, invest their time and energy in ensuring a smooth flow of communication throughout the project. 

From navigating team meetings with poise to providing people with the right direction in the project – a great project manager ensures that things never slip through the cracks. They are not afraid to take the help of the available resources like online communication tools for the same.

6. They Bring Out The Best In Their People  

Manage by Trust, Not by Fear

Only 45 percent of employees are completely satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive. Poor managers are biased, but good managers identify and understand the differences that every individual brings, evaluate performance fairly, without prejudice. Best managers always recognize good performance and give credit where it’s due. Even when they identify weaknesses or faults, they criticize constructively so as to make employees realize their mistakes and work hard to correct them.  

Good managers make sure they have an effective review process in place to evaluate performance fairly. Thanking your employees for their contributions and rewarding them for the job well done goes a long way in improving their morale. Good managers respect their employees and show them that they are valuable assets to the organization. Even the smallest of achievements need to be celebrated at first. Believe in your team even if no one else does, and you will certainly bring out the best in them.

7. They Leverage The Latest Technology  

Smart managers know that technology, like project management software or online collaboration tool, is there to simplify the way they handle their teams, and their teams manage their work. They know that technology has a solution for everything  – right from efficient task management and simplified collaboration to effortless reporting and time tracking. 

This is the reason they never hesitate to invest in the latest tools. In fact, they are the first ones to look for tech solutions to make life easy for their teams and make them productive. By doing so they are able to not only bring the distractions to a minimum, but also bring the best out of every team member, and that’s the reason why they are loved by everyone. 

8. They Set Up The Team For Success

Motivate the Team 

Good managers don’t just inspire their teams to collaborate and work efficiently, they don’t settle until the team reaches the pinnacle of success. To ensure this, they focus on individual performances, while aligning their efforts with the overall team goal. 

By bringing together all the aspects of successful team building like communication, collaboration, clarity and trust, they make sure that the team knows the purpose of their efforts. They know that success comes only with collaborative efforts, and that’s exactly what they inspire the team to perform. 

9. They Inspire At Every Level

They Communicate Employee Appreciation

Most importantly, a good manager never fails to inspire others. This inspiration comes at many levels; from boosting the morale of the team when things are not going right to talking it out with individuals when they are facing problems in their personal lives. 

Good managers know that their role is not limited to only making a productive environment. Rather they have a role to play in building a positive work culture so that  individuals thrive, and continue to strive for betterment at every level. When you are part of a positive work environment, innovation and creativity come out naturally. And, that’s one of the hallmarks of a great team, led by an equally able manager. 

The Final Thought 

In a nutshell, being a manager is all about handling not just your work but your team with great responsibility. You are expected to deliver the goods as well as command the respect of your team. And a good manager knows how to achieve this. They cultivate happiness at work and encourage every employee to be a better version of themselves. 

Good managers positively influence the lives of their team members and help them develop their skills. They groom them for senior roles in the organization in the future. That said, you can’t become a great manager overnight. You need to actively make efforts to improve and be consistent. 

So, are you ready to take the steps necessary to become a good manager?

 Vartika Kashyap
Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap is the Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.


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