14 Ways to Become a Great Manager

Management is both an art and science. It has specific actions that need to be taken and the results will be predictable. There is a lot of hot air around leadership and I totally agree that leadership is very important. However management is absolutely imperative to achieve the vision set by the leader. If we have a leader who can manage and a manager who can lead then we would have an ideal mix of traits to ensure the success of the organization. Sometimes management is also defined as getting the work done through others.
I read the book Creativity, Inc.by Ed Catmull (President of PIXAR ANIMATION and DISNEY ANIMATION) a couple of years back and it is one of my favorite business books. He says "The way I see it, my job as a manager is to create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for things that undermine it. I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know - not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that managers must loosen the control, not tighten them."
Here are the 14 ways to become a great manager
Set clear goals and objectives: The starting point of management is to set clear goals and objectives for everyone reporting to you. Unless there is clarity in defining the clear outcomes, expected results will not be satisfactory. Ensure the goals are aligned with the overall vision of the organization. Keep communicating the goals regularly at every chance in every meeting and organizational sessions.
Put people first: If management is getting things done through others then it is absolutely imperative to ensure the people are taken care. Give respect to every team member in your organization. Give recognition immediately and celebrate great work. Thank people for every good deliverable from them. Treat people like they are the most important person as without people nothing in management can be achieved. So irrespective of whether it is small or large victories as managers we need to keep praising each member of the team and recognizing their respective strengths. Rewards can be tangible like cash rewards and intangible like a special private lunch or offering personal development opportunities.
Give feedback regularly: Don’t wait for the end of the year to give feedback on performance. This only leads to discontent and confusion. Continuously monitor the work of the team and give them regular, candid feedback periodically. Give them both recognition and also identify areas of improvement. Develop an open door policy where the team can share negative as well as positive feedback. This is easier said than done but striving for this improves the odds and avoids last minute disappointments. Recently quite a few organizations like Accenture have discarded performance review and ranking systems. Instead employees will receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following every assignment. We will have to see over the years how this turns out.
Take responsibility: When the team achieves the goals set give the credit to the team and when something goes wrong, as a manager you should take responsibility. This ensures that the team members know you are on their side and they will ensure that failure does not happen again. A manager/leader can delegate anything except final responsibility. Jim Collins calls this principle "the window and the mirror." Based on his research, top leaders looked out of the window to credit others for success and looked in the mirror to apportion responsibility when things didn't go to plan.
Become a great leader: Once you have established yourself as a manager the next step is to become a great leader. Leadership is doing the right things so take action in setting an exciting vision which energizes the team. A manager who is also a great leader is more respected and gets more work done by the team. Develop leadership potential within your team as well through training resources and other team building sessions. As Stephen Covey says leadership can’t be taught but it can be learned. Peter Drucker said leadership is a responsibility and he also said the main job of a leader is to achieve company goals and objectives. I agree because a lot of experts are making leadership complicated but I think Peter Drucker has said it best.
Delegate effectively: Delegation is one of the most important skills of a manager. The reason you are appointed as a manager is get work done through others. Delegation does not mean absolving responsibility. Delegation means identifying the areas of strength of the various individuals and assigning the tasks appropriately but the ultimate responsibility of the end result is still with the manager. As a manager when you delegate the task completely and enable ownership it shows the team that you totally trust the employee’s capability in delivering high quality results. This in turn provides motivation for the individual to bring out their best to the work they do. Some of the greatest leaders of history like Eisenhower were excellent at delegation. In the book "Becoming Steve Jobs" Ron Johnson is quoted as saying "Steve was the best delegator I ever met. He was so clear about what he wanted that it gave you great freedom."
Become a master communicator: According to the Project Management Institute 90% of a project manager’s job is communication. It is absolutely important for the manager to develop great communication skills both verbal and written. Learning to speak impromptu is another vital skill for a manager to master. Maintain clear and open communication channels so that the team bonds together and there is no friction. When you can clearly communicate everything without fear of retribution it fosters a healthy team dynamic.
Be completely transparent: The best way to avoid any gossip in the water-cooler is to be completely transparent and share information with the entire team when any change is imminent. Transparency increases trust and improves morale.
Evangelize the vision statement: It is great to have a vision statement but if it is not communicated regularly to the team there will not be much traction. As a manager the responsibility is to provide the big picture to the team. This also enhances a sense of ownership for each individual while enhancing the meaning of their work.
Identify the limiting step: This comes from Andy Grove's wonderful book High Output Management. Basically every project you undertake will have a limiting step and you need to map out the flow of work around it. So do identify the limiting step in your projects and organize your tasks in consideration of that factor.
Manage according to the task relevant maturity: Again I came across this in High Output Management which is a wonderful book. We all know we should not micromanage. If we have a person who has a high task relevant maturity which means they are very competent in that area then you don't need to manage them closely. However if a person has a low task relevant maturity then you need to be closer to the task and ensure the person gets the requisite support to complete the task. This is a neat way to manage your people.
Provide learning opportunities: Everyone at work wants to attain mastery. This is one of the deepest sources of satisfaction that everyone would like to experience. With the explosion in technology, information and data it is important to have everyone be put on training programs to ensure they are part of the cutting edge in their field. Training is something very important for an organization to thrive. Once people are provided training and feel like they are making progress in their careers they will perform better.
Enhance employee engagement: Enhancing employee engagement is one of the keys of effective management. It is your responsibility to provide a sense of ownership to your team, develop trust within the team and understand each individual. Once trust is established the person can openly disagree with the boss but if a decision is made they still support to the decision. Intel’s motto works “Disagree and Commit.” According to Jack Welch "It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it."  Create a compelling scorecard: This is adopted from Stephen Covey's wonderful book The 8th Habit. He encourages organizations to create a scorecard with the following
  • What is current result meaning where you are? For example 50M revenue
  • Expected Result – For example 60M Revenue
  • Create a deadline on when it is to be achieved – by Dec 30th 2017
  • Communicate this goal throughout all levels of the organization
  • Translate the goals into action
  • Finally hold everyone in the team accountable for results
These steps are really simple but it does work. Becoming a manager is an incredible change for most people. However if we follow some of these ideas it does become a lot easier. Great managers are always sought after by organizations who want the best managers to lead multi diverse teams spread geographically.
Thanks for reading this post.
The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent my organization.

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