Effectively managing others is both a science and an art, just like programming or playing an instrument. Based on personality and past experiences, some people tend to naturally be stronger at leading and inspiring others. That being said, anybody can learn how to be an effective manager if given the right training.
What's nice about the world we live in today is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel to be a great leader. Countless studies have been poured into determining what makes for a good manager.
Whether you've always seen yourself as a natural leader or are scared in front of others, here are six science-backed tactics that are universally effective.
1. Constantly train employees and encourage learning
Numerous experiments have found that training employees both for "current work" as well as helping them pick up additional skills, can drastically improve overall morale and productivity.
Training for work-related tasks helps employees improve the quality and efficiency of the work they are doing. Spending time to train them will accelerate their output and create stronger overall relationships. This training shouldn't just come during the first few months of onboarding, either. There are new strategies for increasing productivity coming out every day. Turning training into an ongoing endeavor will create a culture of constant improvement.
Good managers also empower their employees to gain additional, longer term skills. This could be anything from training sessions to online bootcamps to weekend retreats. This investment demonstrates care for employees and gives them an opportunity to pick up skills that could be helpful at work or in a future position with the company.
2. Give employees space to do their own work
Contributors who feel like they can make their own decisions at work are both more productive and happier. Perfectionists often want things done in a particular and specific way, but as a manager, imposing that on employees can be detrimental.
This can be especially difficult for people used to being an individual contributor. Being a manager is about stepping away from the individualistic mindset and allowing others to make many of the small decisions.
It's contingent on being on a team that can do good work, but under that assumption, giving employees autonomy to do their work how they want will make them more accountable for their output. When someone feels like they are making their own decisions and doing the work they want to be doing, they'll feel a stronger sense of responsibility and desire to do quality work.
3. Let people work remotely (at least on occasion)
Some people are much better working remotely than in an office.
Many of the best managers allow their employees to make their own hours. It demonstrates trust, creates more accountability, and enables employees to work in an environment where they thrive. Remote work also puts an emphasis on output as opposed to physical hours in the office.
Even if it just once a week, granting your employees an opportunity to work from home builds trust among team members. And, with the improvements in communication technologies, it is easier than ever to set up a productive remote workplace.
4. Get their hands dirty
When employees have to do work that they don't particularly enjoy or that may be difficult, it is easy to develop resentment for their managers who are not dealing with the same pains.
Employees respect managers who are willing to dive into the weeds and get their feet wet. It can demonstrate high levels of competency, depending on the work, and signal that you care about your employees. The best managers have their employees know that they would never ask them to do anything they themselves would not.
5. Give praise when it is due
Giving people credit after a job well done isn't a sign of weakness. It lets employees know that you value what they are doing. That appreciation keeps employees motivated and shows them that you're paying attention to what they are doing.
Showing your employees you truly care about them will pay dividends in the long run. It takes a mature and experienced manager to empathize with their employees struggles. The greatest leaders treat their followers (in this case, employees) as partners. Teams built on trust, rather than hierarchy, are far more likely to succeed in the workplace.
6. No fear of being honest
Being honest with employees can be difficult. Giving harsh feedback can be demoralizing for both parties. Often, managers will suppress these feelings for long periods of time.
Transparency and breaking down those barriers early, though, can make a world of a difference. It can be tough for employees at first, but it sets the standard of work high. Plus, it helps employees learn from mistakes instead of continuing to make them. After breaking down these barriers, future difficult conversations with employees will become easier. As a manager, being able to talk honestly with employees is also a way to make daily life easier and more enjoyable.