“Great leaders create more leaders, not followers.”– Roy T. Bennett
Being a good business leader boils down to two key skills – managing yourself and managing your employees. Neither is a cakewalk, but with the right ingredients you can whip up a top-notch team that gets the job done.
Richard Branson (you know that guy who’s worth $5 billion?) once said that “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
As a rule, great managers are not those who rule their teams with an iron fist or do whatever it takes to get results. They’re the ones who make sure the break room is stocked with doughnuts and remember to ask how their employee’s mum is doing after her knee surgery.
While your ultimate goals as a manager should be to produce good work, bring in more revenue and satisfy clients, the best way to get there is to make sure that your team members are happy, motivated and passionate. This works best when they can see that you have the same qualities! The aim is to turn your followers into leaders, creating a well-oiled machine that can confidently approach and overcome challenges, while you act as a guide and motivator.
Here are a few tips to get the best out of your team and yourself:
1. Look Towards Strengths
It can be easy to point out a person’s flaws, but your employees will be far more encouraged if you focus on their strengths and work to capitalise on them. Sit down with each of your team members and tell them what you admire about them, then ask them what they see as their strengths and weaknesses. Assign their position and responsibilities with this in mind, and create a plan with them to grow their strengths and address their weaknesses.
2. Become Head Cheerleader
Sometimes it seems like second nature to complain about work, but when you’re leading a team it doesn’t lead anywhere good. You will have moments of frustration and exhaustion, and it’s okay to explain these feelings to your team but try to keep this to a minimum. Your team will work best when they are genuinely excited about the work that they are doing, and the best way to make that happen is to be the biggest cheerleader for your job. If your employees see that you are passionate and enthusiastic about your job then they will feed off of that energy and hopefully develop the same fervour.
3. Open the Dialogue About Mistakes
In life, and especially in business, people are going to mess up. No matter how good of an employee you are, things are going to go wrong and sometimes they will be your fault. As a manager, you might feel that you need to seem invincible and you may be tempted to hide your mistakes. However, your employees can benefit from seeing your fallibility, as it reminds them that it’s normal to mess up. Furthermore, it will make it easier for them to admit when they have made a mistake, which means that it can be fixed more quickly and easily.
4. Lay Down Ground Rules
One of the most important traits of a good leader is fairness. Even though you may connect with some employees more than others, you have to ensure that you are treating everybody equally. A great way to do this is to lay down a set of ground rules that everyone needs to keep to – especially you! Address issues such as running late, taking leave, calling in sick, lunch breaks and general office etiquette. You need to be extra strict with yourself to lead by example and show employees that these rules need to be respected.
5. Keep in Shape
Industries are constantly changing and evolving, especially in the digital age. You may find that you have been left behind and that people working under you are more in touch than you! Use this as an opportunity to engage with your employees and ask them to teach you some things – if you are not comfortable with this, you can educate yourself in your own time! At the end of the day, you just have to make sure that you are keeping up with changing technologies, procedures and practices in your field.
6. Prepare for Battle
Your team can’t do their job properly if they are not properly briefed and equipped. Ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done before the team takes on a task, and clarify responsibilities and deadlines. Additionally, ensure that your team has access to all of the resources that they need, and ask about this beforehand.
7. Accept Your Role
If you are a new manager, it is likely that you have been promoted above your former peers. This can complicate your pre-established relationships and dynamics with your office mates. You have to come to terms with the fact that you are now a superior, and it’s inappropriate to spend lunch breaks bashing the boss over a coffee. This can be difficult, but if you and your co-workers address this openly and respect each other and your respective roles then the adjustment will be smoother. A great tip is to allow your team to socialise without you – for instance, you can join for Friday happy hour but leave early so that your employees can spend time bonding without stressing that the boss is across the table.
8. Engage and Praise
A positive employer-employee relationship is a must for a motivated and efficient team. You can build these connections with your team members in two easy ways. Firstly, take an interest in them as a person – find out if they have a partner and children, ask about their hobbies and find out a little bit about their personal history. This can be as easy as asking them which city they’re from and what they’re doing over the weekend. The second step is to ensure that you are acknowledging good work when an employee is performing well. This is not only motivating, but it will paint you in a positive light. Very importantly, keep praise and criticism in separate conversations so that one doesn’t outweigh the other.
9. Perk It Up
There are certain perks that are standard with a job, depending on what business you’re in, such as retirement benefits or flexible working hours. Try to add in a few extra little goodies like free snacks in the break room, half-days on Fridays or the occasional free lunch. Extend this to incentivising by using items such as gift cards or a nice bottle of wine as a reward for the employee that has performed the best over the month.
10. Invest in Your Team
At the end of the day, you’re building your team into the best employees that they can be. By following the above advice you’ll be investing your time and energy, which shows people that you believe in them and that you’re committed to quality. Take it a step further by enrolling your employees in an online course that will not only expand their skillset, but will amp up their qualifications. MasterStart offers a choice of 11 short courses in business, marketing and more, allowing you to give your employees the best toolkit for tackling whatever challenges they may face. If you’re really committed to being the best manager that you can be, you can always join the team and register for one of our management courses!
Being a good manager comes with time, hard work and a whole lot of learning, but by applying some of these simple strategies you can make management work for you.