As a person who had experience with managing as well as working on projects and activities with different managers, I can say from my experience and the other side of a table what and how to be a better manager. I have done projects with very lousy managers as well as great managers. What distinguishes them can be summarised in three main areas: Perception, Communication and Attitude.
Perception sometimes can lead to wrong conclusions. And these conclusions can lead to either great or weak results.
As a Manager you need to understand there are three types of perception:
- how you perceive yourself;
- how other people around you perceive you; and
- what kind of opinion is transferred to people about you.
You want the perception about you from your employees to be the right one. This can lead to greater cooperation between you and employees.
So here are some important points to consider:
Your perception about yourself
Self-perception is where we people tend to be subjective. It is a normal thing to do, and we often overlook some flaws about ourselves intentionally. How this impacts you to be a great manager? It is very simple. How you perceive yourself is important so you would have a clearer picture of yourself and the image you want to project about yourself to your employees.
You should be honest with yourself about your weaknesses as well as your strengths. By true determination of your strengths and weaknesses, you are going to get self-aware. This can lead you to improve yourself as a person. I suggest you to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and keep it handy. Prior meeting with your employees you can skim through your notes, you would remind yourself what you should avoid in communication and coordination with employees from your team.
The perception of other people about you
They say, “you create an opinion about someone in the initial 5 minutes when you meet him/her for a first time.” The first impression always stays in peoples’ mind, sometimes even regardless of your later actions.
Most likely, your team members or employees do not understand managers should, not only assure operative goals to be met and execution of their employees to be top notch, however align them with strategy and top management goals. Timing for each start with a project, product launch or any type of activity is always crucial, sometimes even within minutes. A good Manager should articulate this to his/hers team members, so team members can understand why managers push something to happen by all means.
Managers are on a higher hierarchy level at companies. This can lead to certain feel of fear and resentment. At least, you should ensure your team members you are on an equal level. This would lead team members more openly to articulate problems.
However, you need to set boundaries as there is a certain type of people who could take advantage of this. Acknowledge them, even if you approach them as you are on a same level you are the one who is held responsible for the timely and quality performance.
As a Manager you should beware of this, and make most of it.
What kind of opinion is transferred to people about you
You should understand that there always will be people who would either approve your work or simply don’t. If you are a person dedicated to a career in Management, you will learn to take constructive criticism or how to react on something, which is not.
Unfortunately, this is a point which is beyond your control. In behaviour science which deals with organisational behaviour or better say corporate culture, it is mentioned that people organise them, divide themselves in groups. And in these groups if you are with someone and support their views the other group perceives you as a threat. However, this is a point not even worth your attention.
Something you already know, one of the key factors influencing project or team performance is communication. As a Manager you are the one who should take care of the team motivation and fair and honest communication, between you and team members and in the direct communication team members have with each other. You have to respect your team members, and inspire them to show respect to each other as well.
So, here are some tips in terms of communication, which are important, however in most cases overlooked, by Managers:
Communicate to team members how much time it was needed to perform research with other departments and creation of your business plans or project plans. If you have time, you can even allow a short peak in your materials. This way team member will know it is not an easy job to do. It takes a lot of effort and time to get to the phase a project being considered to be developed or an action to be taken on a certain issue;
Don’t forget to communicate any information you hold to your team members. You as a manager do not have the knowledge why something is needed and when. Even if the change or information you hold seems too insignificant to you, it can be a major obstacle from another team member point.
Don’t forget to gather your team and inform them for the launch dates when final go is given by top management. If your project or activity has to team members from other departments, beware they need this information as soon as you have it. Other departments or your team members have to align their resources and plan timelines for actions needed, materials to get prepared and their distribution to front lines, not to mention trainings.
Don’t forget to gather your team for lessons learned meeting and encourage them to speak out. You can learn and save yourself from misery for your next project or activity;
When you do the evaluation of your project with your department or any other concerned party in the company, and you know how good this project or action undertaken performed, it is advisable to gather your team members and inform them of this. If your project or activity did well, acknowledge each team member for their work and effort. If not, just say or let them know, you know, and they know, where the problems and gaps occurred, however you hope you all learned a lot from this experience. I suggest you to do this meeting in a friendlier environment, not in a meeting room. Don’t forget to get their feedback and observations on this.
You as a Manager, should know, that attitude toward certain areas of interest or attitude in general is observed by people around you. If you plan to have a strong team full of enthusiasts and motivated people, you need to control how you react in unexpected situations or even day to day communication.
Points you should consider:
Don’t expect people to share information without your approval. Encourage people to talk to each other and solve issues even if you are not there. Encourage them to call you if they have something to ask or report.
Don’t expect overnight results. As much time it was required for you to finish up with your planning process, a team member needs time for something else.
Understand that team members have other responsibilities too. The project or activity being developed or taken can be an additional task for them.
Don’t panic. Even if there is a fast track project required by market changes or any other reason. If you panic, other people will too, and then you’ll have chaos to deal with instead your project or activity.
Launch date means something to you and your team members. Gather your team after a successful launch of the project/activity. Celebrate it with a coffee in the lounge room and share success with team members.
Conclusion on how to be a better manager
All of above written points are summarised from my own experience. These points and views can help you in your daily operations as a manager. By practicing honest and open approach to your team members across organisation, you are going to be recognised company wide.
If you work on a future project with these team members, they would love to work with you and even outperform themselves. It would also bring positive results in your corporation wide reputation; so other people would like to work on a project or activities where you are involved, hold the position manager. You most certainly would inspire other managers to have a different approach to their team members too.
And lastly, inspire others so you can get inspired too. That’s how to be a better manager.