New business owners are sometimes thrust into the position of managing people without having the experience of working as a team leader. Effective leaders can inspire and motivate staff while dealing with discipline and conflict in a fair manner. Your attitude sets the tone for your employees; by being approachable, listening well and communicating clearly, you can be a better boss and equip your teams with the right knowledge and resources to succeed. Here are five skills that are key to being a good manager.
Select and develop the right people
Hiring competent people right off the bat makes managing them a lot easier later on. But how do you know which candidates are right for your business? Consider how prospective employees will work within your existing team and what kind of motivation they’ll need to succeed. Successful management involves motivating people in a way that suits their personalities; some people like routine and a lot of direction, whereas other people prefer to be given tasks to run with and respond better to a hands-off approach. Micromanagement — or controlling every tiny aspect of an employee’s work — is a counterproductive approach as it breeds resentment and has the opposite of the desired effect. Hire people whose skillset and personality you have confidence in and then give them the tools to grow and develop with your team.
When it comes to planning, making decisions and problem solving, managers need to be able to effectively communicate their ideas and visions. Communication begins with clearly setting out the goals of your business for your team, whether these are sales targets or customer-driven goals, and outlining the best ways to hit them. Employees need to know what is expected of them, and as a manager it’s your role to delegate effectively and give feedback to anyone who is not achieving what they have been asked to do. Managers should also communicate positive feedback to people who are doing a good job or going above and beyond their role. Choose a communication method that works best for you — from an informal morning “standup” meeting to internal communication channels such as Slack or monthly/annual reviews.
Delegating tasks can be a daunting concept for business owners who have built their company from the ground up and want to control every part of it. But taking on too much can lead to burnout. One key management skill involves being able to effectively delegate jobs to your staff. Learning the art of delegation includes setting clear objectives and boundaries and providing support, in the form of training, briefs or team resources, to achieve your goals. Timing is everything, and in some cases delegation might not be an effective use of your time if it takes longer to train someone than to do it yourself. But beware of that train of thought as it can lead to taking on too much yourself.
Discipline and deal with conflict respectfully
Managing a happy and cohesive team is fairly straightforward, but when conflict arises and disciplinary action has to be taken, it can set the effective managers apart from the mediocre ones. Respectfully disciplining staff and dealing with conflict involves giving them the opportunity to solve the problem themselves before taking action. First, identify the problem and make it clear to your employees exactly what the issue is. Don’t wait; deal with it as soon as you can so it doesn’t snowball or become clouded by other issues. New approaches to conflict resolution involve a two-way communication model that gives employees a chance to explain their actions and get to the root cause of what’s wrong, rather than simply penalizing them for their actions.
Create a positive team dynamic and encourage good relationships
If you can foster good relationships and support a positive team dynamic, you’ll create a unified group of employees that works towards the common goal of making your business a success. Building a team culture means fostering loyalty and creativity among your employees by empowering them to make decisions and set goals as a team. Setting up ad hoc informal cross-department teams can also encourage collaboration and relationship building. Or you can enhance the company’s culture by organizing an external event to help your employees bond. It doesn’t have to be an expensive company retreat — have happy hour drinks, take a group trip to a local art gallery or take part in a local race together. These are all ways to promote good relationships without breaking the bank. Inc. suggests other ways you can build a positive team dynamic — from cross-training staff so they understand other people’s roles to providing adequate resources for everybody.