How to be a better manager

One high profile manager has been reflecting in the press on how he became a better manager. Whether you love him or loathe him, football manager Jose Mourinho feels that his transition from ‘The Special One’ to ‘The Calm One’ has made him a better manager than at any point in his career. While football seems a million miles away from the workplace in sectors such as construction, cleaning, hospitality etc., the truth is that the skills needed to be a better manager have much in common.

A manager or supervisor has one of the most important roles to play in any organisation. Research has suggested that front-line managers and supervisors in particular have a great influence on staff engagement and performance. Whether you’re newly-promoted to management or an existing manager trying to improve, being a good manager means that you will get the best out of your staff. This will help you achieve your aims and the goals of your company.

Yet, according to government figures, ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over 19 billion per year in lost working hours. The same report found that 43% of UK managers rate their own line managers as ineffective and only one in five are qualified. There’s obviously much room for improvement.

Anyone in the position knows that it’s not easy being a manager – after all, the buck stops with you. With its responsibilities, deadlines and problems, it can be very stressful. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to think about whether you are making the most of the resources available to you. The biggest resource is likely to be your staff but there are also other considerations too such as whether you have the best tools and systems for the job.

Here are our tips on becoming a better manager:

  • Get to know your team – take the time to build good relationships with individual members of your team. Get to know their skills and knowledge – this will allow you to play to their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learn to motivate – all staff need encouragement from time to time; it shows that they have their manager’s support and attention. Learn to recognise the different motivations which make individual team members tick. For some it will be praise for achievements or effort, for others concern about their well-being and for others it may be offers of training. It’s not always about financial rewards. As a manager you should aim to demonstrate that each team member is important to you.
  • Be a good communicator – be visible to your staff and make them feel that you are approachable. Don’t hide away and rely on emails or texts. It is vital that each employee knows their role and what is expected of them so be clear in your communications with them especially when giving instructions or making requests. Where possible invite staff to ask questions or to give their views. An important part of being a good communicator is being good listener too – indicate to staff that you’ve heard them by acknowledging what they say.
  • Be fair – employees will naturally notice and compare how you treat each of them with regard to opportunities such as overtime, shifts and time off. Make sure you treat them equitably and keep good records. Time and attendance systems can be a useful tool to ensure that staff know how to log their worktime, make requests for leave and be paid the correct amount.
  • Plan ahead – as well as dealing with pressing daily issues, an effective manager needs to lift their sights occasionally to see the bigger picture. It’s what distinguishes you from your team members and a skill which your own managers will value. Again, some time and attendance systems can be used to generate reports about the costs of staff time and projects and therefore provide the automated data to help you plan forward.

Being a manager can be extremely rewarding. Yet every manager experiences hurdles which they must overcome. However the best managers will recognise their blind spots and address them. After all a majority of managers learn ‘on the job’. Maybe Mourinho was onto something…

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