Did you know that only 60% of employees say they have a world-class manager?
A good manager plays a significant role in creating a positive and highly productive workplace. Your behavior and management can transform your team into a super productive unit and improve morale among your direct reports.
There are some standard good management practices that successful managers use. If you haven’t already implemented them, our article will tell you how, and explain the benefits.
We’ll cover 12 examples of best practices for managers and team leaders, from how to communicate better, to how to delegate, and educate your team. So let’s get started.
1. Hire the right people (someone you’d be happy to see in the hallway)
Wrong hires have a big impact on a company’s productivity and costs. They usually perform lower than others, and managing an underperforming employee takes 70% more time than managing a high performing one.
Additionally, if your staff doesn’t share your company’s values, you’ll find it challenging to get everyone rowing in the same direction. At the end of the day the goal is maximizing profitability.
While a candidate does need to have the right essential skills for a role, you can’t “train” someone to have the right attitude and personality that fits your company. Business management is people management – make it easier for yourself from the start.
There are many advantages to hiring employees that are a strong cultural fit. Such employees bring more value to your business. They are generally more satisfied with their positions and exhibit that satisfaction through their work results.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of hiring the right person.
Consider a wide range of candidates
You need a vast pool of potential employees to find the perfect fit. As long as you have assessment criteria in place, you’ll know who to shortlist and invite for an interview.
Don’t limit your search to one job board either as you will lower the chance for finding the right candidate. You never know – professional social media like LinkedIn and AngelList could be the key to connecting with future members of your team.
Draw up an assessment criteria
Predetermined rules give you greater consistency in the recruitment process. You can use your criteria to analyze candidates, select them for interviews, but also to compare and score interviewees’ answers. You can even take it a step further – a Walden University case study revealed that practical demonstrations were key in determining if candidates 1. had the knowledge to complete tasks and 2. fit into the organization.
Prioritize cultural fit
When recruiting, prioritize the cultural fit and not just the role fit. This means that during the recruitment process, you must look beyond the candidate’s qualifications.
You’ll need to determine whether they share your company’s views and values, and then consider the candidate’s skills and the role fit.
Picture seeing them down the hallway— would you be happy to see them?
2. Be consistent in your actions
Consistency means that employees know exactly what to expect of you as predictable managers bring stability to the workplace. Without a consistent leader, employees are likely to feel confused and stressed, which will affect their productivity.
An excellent example of a consistent leader is Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, who is often named as one of the best leaders in history.
Jack Welch’s practice of ranking employees and eliminating the worst performers (otherwise known as the “rank-and-yank” method) worked well for him at General Electric.
Although some may have considered his leadership harsh, he was always consistent at his actions and his expectations were clear.
Good or bad, a consistent approach brings a multitude of benefits to your workplace.
3. Communicate (clearly, accurately and thoroughly)
Bad management often stems from poor communication. If you experience problems with your team, it may well be that your communication skills need some honing.
To become a better communicator, begin with the basics. Excellent communication is clear, accurate, and thorough, and doesn’t leave people with a question mark over their head.
And it’s especially important when you’re delegating tasks. When telling someone what to do, make sure you cover all the necessary details:
- Who is responsible for the task
- What they have to do
- When they have to do it by
- How should they do it (if needed)
Whether we are talking about written or oral communication, the same rules apply. Try to deliver the punchline first, then complement your main point with supporting information.
Since listening makes a big part of good communication practices, welcome additional questions from your team, and be ready to answer them with patience and empathy.
4. Listen actively and ask questions
As Sir Richard Branson says, “Listen more than you talk. Nobody ever learned anything by hearing themselves speak.”
Listening to your staff, trying to understand their perspectives and concerns shows them they’re appreciated and is a good practice to do.
Employees who feel listened to are happier and have lower stress levels. On top of that, those who believe their managers use active-empathetic listening (AEL) feel more in control at work and have higher general well-being.
One of the easiest ways to become a better listener is to show that you care. Demonstrating that you care about your employees enhances your professional relationships and shows staff you see them as valuable assets in the workplace.
You should encourage staff to voice opinions and ask questions—this also shows you’re listening and engaging with them. When you do ask questions, however, avoid interrupting them as they speak. Doing this encourages staff to open up to you.
That said, even the most supportive business owners may have trouble getting their employees to open up due to the power imbalance. In those cases, prioritize increasing your team’s comfort with using your Human Resources department to voice any concerns.
5. Lead by example
If a manager is demanding something she is not doing herself, then the employees will be less motivated to do it.
Show, don’t tell. If you want to influence your team, the best thing you can do is to be an example to follow. Remember that employees look up to you to determine what is acceptable and desirable behavior in the workplace.
Ask yourself — What behaviors do you exhibit that others already mirror? Which ones could you start exhibiting that will influence your team and make the workplace better for everyone?
For instance, can you:
- Show greater flexibility?
- Demonstrate a stronger work ethic?
- Communicate more clearly?
Leading by example may sound like a cliché, but it’s a vital part of proper management, so think about the areas where you can be a powerful role model for others.
6. Delegate and get out of the way
Some managers fear delegation because of the underlying concern that they could complete the task better. However, with a limited amount of time, delegation becomes an essential part of project management.
Delegating not only saves you time, but it also helps develop your team. By delegating more tasks, your employees will build their skills along with their confidence.
When you delegate a part of work to your team, you also enable them to develop their way of doing things. Whichever approach they take, don’t interfere. Instead, take a step back, ask for updates, and check whether they require your input.
To avoid micromanagement, provide your staff with the tools they need to do an outstanding job. A good training program is a foundation for successful delegating.
Create documentation and processes (if they aren’t already in place) so that your employees have a roadmap for success.
Looking for some guidance on when to delegate? Try using the 70% rule.
If someone can do a task 70% as well as you can, delegate it. Train that person for an additional 10% and be happy with 80% as a result, because nobody will do things exactly as you.
Managers need to understand & accept that.
7. Provide constructive feedback regularly
Mistakes will happen—it’s a part of managing a team.
Your reaction to those mishaps, however, can either make your team more effective or start a conflict. Delivering feedback properly is a critical management practice to master.
Most people enjoy becoming better at their job, and they can achieve this with regular feedback you give them .
However, you need to steer clear of critiques. Instead, give your staff useful, actionable feedback that they can apply to their role and grow their skills.
The secret is striking the right balance. Kyle Porter from Salesloft says that for one “critique” (or feedback on what to improve), you should use five praises to balance things out.
Here are some best practices for giving feedback to your employees:
Give feedback in person
Giving constructive feedback in a crowded office is never a good idea. It can damage your employee’s confidence and self-esteem while making them defensive. Instead, find empty space or hold a one-to-one meeting in your office .
Before you move on to any negative comments, begin with acknowledging the positives. If there are areas for improvement, talk with your staff about how you can achieve this together.
And when you come to share constructive feedback, be positive and informal. Your tone of voice is everything. It will help to take the fear out of a meeting and make your team member feel more relaxed.
Don’t overwhelm them – use clear goals
Although it’s important to stress areas that need improvement, there is a thing as too much information.
Instead of telling your employee about everything they need to work on, prioritize the most important area of concern for the moment and focus on that.
Once you address the most pressing issue, you can move on to the next thing.
Giving feedback can feel uncomfortable for both sides but it’s crucial for employee’s growth and thus—retention.
Paul Petrone, Linkedin’s Head of Academic and Government Marketing, shares that employees are more likely to quit if they aren’t growing in their role.
Regular feedback for your employees will help your day-to-day operations run more smoothly and give your team a sense of accomplishment as they develop and meet clear goals.
Consider introducing your team to benchmarking – comparing your methodologies to those of the best businesses in your industry. Doing so will provide a steady source of inspiration and motivation for dedicated workers.
Similarly, Key Performance Indicators – defined by your business objectives – were noted to improve industrial production. This is thanks to being able to compare KPIs with similar businesses to identify poor performance and locate improvement potential in your company.
8. Spread Your Positivity
Moods are contagious, and you have a bigger impact on everybody’s mood than you may realize.
When you come to work in a bad mood, it affects the productivity, morale, and quality of work of your employees. So, don’t forget, as a leader, you’re responsible for setting the atmosphere throughout your company.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to hide negative things from your team, but if you act cranky and defeated , the chances are that attitude will spread to your team as well. So put any drama or panic to the side and act professionally.
To further spread positivity, you can:
- Smile at team members and colleagues more
- Celebrate the little wins with your team
Just as importantly, remember not to neglect mental health care for yourself either. Ensure that you get enough sleep, some exercise, eat a balanced diet, and take time out when you need to; otherwise, it will be hard to maintain a positive attitude.
If you feel you’re close to burning out, request a personal day so you can return refreshed and positive, ready to motivate your team again. It’s up to you as a good manager to manage your ups and downs.
9. Develop your people
When you focus on your staff’s development, you’re helping them to become better at their jobs. Helping them learn more can parallelly improve their soft skills as well as specific job-related skills.
If you want to encourage your team to grow and progress, you need to give them the resources they need to further their development. This means providing staff with:
You can do that by getting staff more involved at work, such as mentoring a junior employee or presenting to senior staff. If you’re used to hosting regular meetings, try setting a goal of each one directly benefiting as many employees as possible. Foster a learning environment.
Additionally, you can develop your team’s skills by putting them into another role. This could be helping you to interview a prospective employee, working on a new project, or shadowing another colleague.
For new experiences outside of their day-to-day roles, see if your company has a professional development budget for sending employees to a training class.
Also, if there is an opportunity to bring an employee on a business trip or to a conference, go for it. Doing so will give your people the chance to see your company’s work in the broader context of your industry or market.
They’ll come back to work with renewed enthusiasm and a greater sense of purpose.
10. Be flexible
Learn to relax your need for control and show your staff some flexibility.
When you are flexible with how your people accomplish tasks (within your company’s procedures), they have the opportunity to innovate and find more efficient ways of doing things.
Overly rigid management can lead to alienating your employees and lowering company morale. Remember that there’s more than one way to approach a task, so show some flexibility in getting things done.
Being more flexible also means being more patient. Some of your employees won’t always grasp the finer points of a task at first. However, they’ll get better, so offer them some leeway in the meantime or allow them to find their way of doing things.
Again, you’ll want to properly train employees before giving them more flexibility. They must understand core company processes before they can innovate.
A good management practice is to allow flexibility for employees that are well-trained and confident in their roles. Give them more opportunities to solve problems and find solutions with your guidance.
11. Remain as transparent as possible
You may underestimate just how much your staff value truth and transparency.
Transparency brings trust, and with that comes greater respect and loyalty from your staff.
Greater transparency also gives your staff confidence. They have a clear picture of where the company is heading. And if there are problems ahead, keeping staff well informed eases uncertainty, thus reducing stress.
And when you show greater transparency to your staff, there are many more advantages, such as:
- Team building becomes quicker : A transparent approach means staff are happier to voice opinions and give their perspectives.
- Problem-solving becomes easier . When your staff are aware of potential problems, they can work together to create solutions.
- You build deeper relationships: When you solve problems more openly, trust deepens among your team, and the workplace performs better. This means everyone wins.
If transparency is so important, why aren’t more leaders transparent?
A Forbes article says it’s because managers are worried about not appearing authoritative.
However, we see that transparency at work brings many benefits, so try to implement it as a good management practice.
12. Use quantitative data to make decisions
Using quantitative data is an effective way to create employee training and development programs. This technique is also known as DDDM (data-driven decision making.)
Many top-performing companies turn to data to make decisions. Instead of relying on guesswork or gut instinct, they prefer to let the facts guide them. Google is just one of the high-profile companies that use data in the workplace .
They relied on data for training managers. Google started by using data from employee surveys to draw up a set of behaviors that separate good managers from bad ones.
That revelation allowed them to reshape management training systems, giving new managers the ability to excel.
However, for data-driven work culture, your workplace needs to have a strategy in place. The first step is to define your goals—both achievable and measurable.
Once you’ve outlined your goals, you’ll know which areas you must focus on and what type of data you’d need to gather.
Using quantitative decision making to create new training programs has its advantages, but you also need to know how to manage that data, and most importantly, how to keep it secure.
Good managers can manage anything
When you rely on good management practices, you can professionally develop yourself and, consequently, develop your team.
As John Maxwell said about leadership – “tend to people, and they will tend to the business.”
Achieving this means that you must lead by example and act in the same way you expect others to act.
Show your human side. Show your employees that you value their work ethic or the results they deliver. Demonstrate empathy, compassion, and a helping hand when it’s needed.
Follow the 12 rules we shared to take your managerial skills to the next level and to create a team that trusts and respects you.