How to be a Good Manager

by Greg Skloot
Management   |   5 Min Read
how to be a good manager

The #1 reasons organizations fail is because of an ineffective team. Whether it’s just a core group of co-founders or a team in a high-growth company, being a good manager can be the most effective way to get the results you want.

Here are the top 10 ways to be a good manager:

1. Establish a clear vision

A high-performing team is grounded in a simple, clear vision. This doesn’t have to be too far up in the clouds. For example, for a customer support team it can be as simple as “The support team exists to provide customers with a great experience and ensure any technical issues they have are resolved promptly.” Just by having it written down, it keeps the team aligned on the core objective.

2. Set reasonable, measurable goals

Teams operate best when they have reasonable goals that are easy to measure. Good managers work collaboratively with their teams to set goals for every month, quarter and year. These goals all tie back to the team’s core objectives, and are frequently discussed in every meeting and update. If there are no goals, we can never measure if the team is actually doing a good job.

3. Over communicate

The best managers are masters of communication. They understand that the biggest reason that teams fail is due to poor communication. Your team must be aligned on what the goals are and communicates when there is a problem. This communication happens best in team meetings and weekly status updates, using a tool like Weekly Update.

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4. Be transparent on progress

If we don’t know what’s not working, we’ll never fix it. Good managers ensure that the team is constantly sharing updates on the status of each important initiative, what road blocks exist, and the plan for accomplishing it.

5. Hold the team accountable for results

Good managers hold their teams accountable for delivering against the goals they established. At the end of the day, managers know that results matter most. Creating a culture of accountability is key for effective managers: it comes back to setting the right goals, being open about issues and calling people out if they don’t deliver. You should get everything in writing so it never gets lost in the shuffle.

6. Provide frequent feedback

If someone is doing something wrong, they need to hear about it so they can do better. The best managers provide continuous feedback, both positive and negative. It’s important to structure your feedback with examples of areas for improvement, and suggestions for precisely how to improve. Typically this feedback comes during regularly scheduled 1–1 meetings and replying to the team’s weekly updates.

7. Coach rather than dictate

While feedback is important, effective managers see themselves as coaches rather than dictators. No employee wants to be ordered around. To actually change behavior, managers need to make suggestions and guide employees to the right solution. When giving feedback, phrase you recommendations as “Consider trying X” rather than “Do X now.”

8. Take genuine interest in each person’s progression

Team members become loyal to mangers who actually care about them. In the professional world, one of the ways to demonstrate that care is by taking interest in each employee’s career progression. Work 1–1 with your employees to outline their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement and potential growth paths. If someone comes in as a Junior Marketer, outline for her a path (with lots of hard work) where she can become the Chief Marketing Officer.

9. Make a plan, and be ready to iterate

Teams rely on mangers to have a plan. Good managers put time into analyzing situations, looking at resources and making reasonable plans for how the team should execute on its goals. With that said, the best managers know that the plan can quickly change in a fast-paced business. Be ready to make changes to the plan, and properly communicating it to your staff.

10. Document everything

Well-run teams place importance on documentation. Good managers ensure that the most important processes are well documented. This facilitates smooth onboarding for new employees, and avoids over reliance on individuals. This documentation is also vital for communication. As a team scales, having the most important information written down is key for keeping everyone on the same page.

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