While the highly effective habits of good managers tend be overlooked, the traits of bad managers are engraved in our memories. Here are seven habits of the highly effective you can incorporate into your workplace:
- Be purposeful. You can't possibly manage well unless you have crystalline clarity about what you are managing toward, says Greg Bustin, a Dallas management consultant and author of Accountability. "Thinking it through beforehand and writing it down help you determine the steps you need to take and priorities to put the steps in," Bustin adds.
- Encourage subordinates rather than driving them. "I'd rather be out front cheering with a banner than in the back with a whip," says Patrick Thean, co-founder and CEO of Rhythm Systems, a Charlotte, North Carolina, business strategy software provider. One Thean customer met a tight development schedule by stressing to subordinates how groundbreaking the product would be rather than criticizing members for failings. "They were encouraging and future-focused versus backward-blaming when things did not go perfectly," he explains.
- Get some wins. Reaching milestones energizes everyone, yourself included. So always make sure you build in and celebrate incremental successes in any management effort, Bustin says. "Being able to bring it to completion, check a box, tie a bow on it, and feel you've made progress is an important habit," he says.
- Measure well. Pick the right metrics for measuring the results of your management efforts, stay on top of them, and share them with others. "Knowing what success looks like and being able to share and explain that to their teams makes the entire team highly effective," Thean says.
- Focus on the process as much as the end result. Keep yourself and others aware of the learning and skills improvement occurring as you chase the objective at hand, and not only on the goal. "Effective managers must be observant and focused on the development of their teams," Thean says. "Every opportunity, through victory or challenges, is a wonderful opportunity to grow the abilities and capabilities of their team members."
- Be resilient. Managers who truly care for subordinates cannot afford to be waylaid by tough decisions. Ann Hambly, founder and CEO of 1st Service Solutions, a Grapevine, Texas, commercial real estate mortgage advisor, recalls one awful day when her task was to lay off half her staff. "It was like there was a horrible rainstorm outside," she recalls. "I was going to get wet. The best thing I could do was put on all the rain gear I owned and carry an umbrella." For her, that meant reminding herself that the unpleasant task was part of the job she had to do and not a personal choice she had made.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated. Making a habit of this can make you a hero, says Ann Hambly. For instance, at a previous firm an employee needed more days off to care for an ailing spouse than policy allowed. Hambly told him to take whatever time he needed, and she would personally cover for him. "He has told me that he would never forget that," Hambly says.
Developing better managerial habits can be challenging when previous managers have left employees dispirited and unproductive. But managers who try to exemplify these seven habits of excellence are better prepared to do an outstanding job in almost any environment.
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