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8 Things That Make You a Better Manager

Set yourself apart from average and bad managers. Be the manager people do not want to leave.

Photo by Ono Kosuki

Everybody wants a stellar team and a supportive manager. Yet, how many of us have that luxury?

Successful managers are a rare species. When you have one, you are likely to be loyal to him no matter what. Pay them with gold. They make your teams successful.

You can be one of them. You do not have to change your personality or take expensive courses. All you need are a few habits that set you apart.

1. Be visible

Does it sound silly to you if I say that to be a great manager, you need to be seen? I have a friend whose manager is never around. He is either in his office or at meetings or somewhere. It is like when your parents are never home. It does not feel safe.

Manager’s presence gives you a sense of safety.

You don’t need to sit next to your team all the time. But it is wrong if you treat your office like a fortress or a castle. You cute princess who does not want to be disturbed. Meh.

In the morning, greet your team. Come along to find out how it is progressing. Join them for lunch or a coffee break. Give them the impression that you are approachable.

2. Avoid using corporate gibberish

“Deliver it ASAP.” “Pick your fights.” “Focus and perform.” “I am looking into it.”

Companies are used to communicating in a certain way. If you are around for a while, you take over and speak like a baby doll. You repeat statements that are often not reasonable, meaningless, or hostile.

Watch out for your language.

As a corporate body, your team will not take you seriously. Be careful what and how you say things. Do they make sense? What if you hear them outside of your office bubble? Would you laugh about it?

Then you probably know what corporate gibberish is. Thus, you should use simple and understandable language.

3. Smile

A smile is free. Yet, how many people smile when they come to work?

Smiling can spread a positive mood and relax people. I have a fellow trainer friend whose training is great. Yet, when she gets into explaining concepts, she becomes very serious and never smiles.

“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.” — Connie Stevens

Take your smile on. You will feel more relaxed yourself. Challenges will be more bearable when treated with hope and positivity.

Smile is a management superpower that many forget about.

4. Take time to consolidate

Try this for the next four weeks:

  • Shorten every meeting you have by 5–10 minutes

  • Take this cut off time for yourself and reflect on what has been said

  • Note down questions, feelings, and remarks

  • Put down one action

Managers do not take enough time for themselves. Do a favor to your brain and let it relax and consolidate.

A difference between an average and an excellent manager is that a competent manager thinks more. Such a manager works better with information. To be able to do so, you need time. Reward your team by taking a break for yourself. You will be so much more useful.

Information flows around. One thing that managers consistently complain about is the lack of time. Gain some from your meetings. It is an investment that pays off in gold.

5. Be on time

It is a small thing, but it means a lot. You show your sense of organization and respect when you are on time. Do not let people wait for you.

Time management is one of the most valuable tools managers have. If you feel you have an issue with it, work on it. But do not punish your team by being the late guy. It is annoying.

6. Do not interrupt people in the middle

Great managers listen. But they do not listen to themselves. They listen to other people.

Do you listen? I mean actually listen. Not just hearing people opening their mouths, but the content and the tone. You may get tired of listening to other people. But jumping to their talk? Not good.

The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. Fran Lebowitz

When I said that waiting is annoying. It does not apply to conversations. On the flip side, when talking with your team members, you want to wait for what they have to say.

Try to avoid interrupting them. Some people need time to develop their arguments and describe all the facts.

Wait for them. It pays off.

7. Ask fearless questions

Now I want you to stop playing it safe and shy. Great managers get dirty by asking uncomfortable or even silly questions.

No question is wrong or too elementary.

Be curious about everything and do not take anything for granted. If you are afraid of asking questions, your team might be the same. So, here we have an example of blocked communication.

Be a better manager and try this exercise:

  • Bring up a challenge for your team

  • Let them think about it for a minute or two

  • Then ask them questions, but do not provide your answer yourself

Questions drive innovation and trust in teams. Questions help to feel psychologically safe. Begin safe means you are comfortable and you are willing to work. Any great manager should be aware of the power of questions.

8. Be a ‘Don’t Knower’

Just admit you do not know everything.

Managers are often expected to have all the answers. Yet, we rarely do. That is why we have such amazing teams. It is OK not to know.

“I’ve always been a ‘don’t knower’. I’ve always been very comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know.’ As a result, there’s a sense of openness. When you don’t know, and you’re really listening intently, people want to help you. They want to share.” — Eileen Fisher

Isn’t that great and refreshing? To be a better manager, you have to admit what you do not know and listen. Yes, people want to help you. You are not alone.

Saying ‘no’ and ‘I don’t know’ allows you to meet people and get their perspectives and recommendations. Empower teams around you by supporting their talents and leadership skills.

Be a manager and simply ‘don’t know’.

Final thought

Aspire to be a superior manager, and you will become one. The way you communicate makes a lot of difference. That you can work on.

Management is the most fulfilling job in the world. Make it true for your team.

If you try any of these tips, let me know. I’d love to hear how it worked for you. Likewise, comment below your suggestion to support other managers on their journey.

Good luck!

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