Whether you just landed a promotion or have been managing teams for a while, it’s always a good idea to asses yourself against the tried and true habits of good managers. Everyone has off days, but if you’re able to generally stick to these five key behaviors, you’ll be the best boss around:
1. Accept That, Sometimes, You Won’t Communicate Clearly
Do you consistently have to repeat yourself to your team? Do you feel like subordinates always misunderstand you?
If you’re frustrated that your team doesn’t quite get something you’re saying, you may need to look at your communication skills. Do you clearly outline goals, deadlines, and purposes? Are you communicating in a way that works for the team, not just yourself?
2. Manage Each Person You Work With as an Individual
A good manager will understand that each person has a unique personality. To get optimal results from employees, you must manage and motivate accordingly.
3. Listen More Than You Talk
Struggling employees – and successful ones, too – often don’t feel supported enough to openly discuss the issues they’re having. Most employees worry that their honesty will be used against them.
Open the door for honest dialogue with the intention of really listening to issues and concerns. Once you hear an employee out, work together to come up with a solution. Things that may seem small to you may weigh heavily on employees. Offering your team a safe space to get things off their chests is easy to do, and it will lead to a happier and more productive unit.
4. Don’t Make Employees Feel Like They Have to Defend Themselves
As a manager, you may sometimes have to tell employees their numbers are low, or their work is subpar, or they’re not hitting the mark. If you start these conversations off by speculating about the employee’s poor performance, you force employees to defend themselves rather than listen.
Instead, let employees control these conversations. Ask open-ended questions like, “I saw your numbers have dropped. Is there something going on, and is there anything I can do to help?” Then, let the employee talk about the situation from their perspective. This approach is way more effective than something like, “Your numbers have dropped, and it seems like you’re distracted by something. You have to get those numbers back up, or we’ll have to figure something out.”
5. Don’t Feel That You Have to Comment on Everything
Letting your employees take ownership of their work means really letting them have ownership.
In a webinar, renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith once said that if your comment as a boss only makes something 10 percent better, it may not be worth making that comment at all. Why? Because this seemingly small act can undermine the work your employee just put all their energy into. A 10 percent improvement is probably negligible and quite possibly just a matter of taste. Rather than making a comment that, in your opinion, elevates the project, think twice. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary before offering any advice.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.