Is there any particular secret to being a good manager? I’m about to take people on for the first time but I don’t have time to read all of the “How to be a boss” books.
There are dozens of “how to” books on management and leadership on the market and you can waste a lot of time searching for what’s right for you, only to end up feeling even more confused.
Then there are the standard lists of the so-called attributes and skills associated with being a good manager which include blue skies thinker, people person, visionary, problem-solver, adaptable, ethical and self-managed.
If you’re a start-up, you may tick many of these boxes but what is often left off the list is the ability to really “listen” to your people.
Having interviewed thousands of people, I have found that one of the dominant reasons people have left jobs is due to their total frustration in feeling their manger didn’t listen to their ideas or acknowledge their needs.
Here’s a brief example:
“I was recently working as a senior editor for a publishing company. It was a busy and stressful role and often required working back quite late.
With four children, I was struggling to cope with such demanding hours and maintain a work/life balance. I had made numerous requests to my manager to see if I could work part-time or occasionally work from home.
I was always promised that they would review it the following month. After 12 months nothing had changed.
I felt unheard and unappreciated and therefore resigned. I now have a similar position but work four days a week and one of those from home.”
It’s worth noting that current research shows that the majority of people leave their job due to their manager, not the actual job.
Besides listening and communication, building your skills also requires strengthening your EQ or Emotional Intelligence.
The general definition of Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify or understand your natural emotions and being able to manage the way you react or respond.
Secondly, it involves being able to identify with the emotions of others and then managing your responses accordingly.
For example, if you know someone fires up quickly you will manage your responses to avoid escalating the conversation to the point of conflict.
From experience, I have found that good managers have usually spent time working on personally development and are also very focused on getting to know what motivates their people.
With a massive talent shortage and full employment, the “you’re lucky to have a job” type of management approach just doesn’t cut it any longer.
Taking the time to really understanding your people is a great step forward in becoming a great manager.