Management Best Practices: 14 Things That Only the BEST Leaders Do
It goes without saying that managing a team and leading people comes with a lot of responsibility. And while many managers are successful and have great careers, there are other managers who simply knock it out of the park. They get results, meet their budget and seemingly don’t break a sweat in doing so. Is it effortless? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary. It’s usually the result of a clear strategy, personal creativity and calculated decision-making. Below are 14 management best practices that these leaders embody. These are their secrets and the tools of their trade. How would you rank yourself against each one?
1. They Listen More Than They Talk
There’s nothing more admirable about a great manager than his or her ability to listen. Not just listen, but listen REALLY well. Whether or not its a natural talent or a trained skill, great managers are deliberate about listening carefully to their employees and are able to connect the dots that often go unsaid. They can make connections, read between the lines and take note of body language. Sometimes they’ll share their observations, sometimes they withhold them. These managers know that regularly showering others with commentary, even if they are more experienced, can have a number of drawbacks.
2. They Run Effective, Efficient Meetings
No Agenda? No Meeting. The best managers around recognize and know that time is of the essence. As such, they know when to call a meeting, and when not to. They are careful with the list of attendees (i.e. they don’t invite everyone to everything), and they know that an agenda sent ahead of time helps make the meeting more effective. They take actions (Read about the 3 W’s) and follow-up. Every meeting has a purpose.
3. They Hold Regular One on Ones… and Focus on the Employee
One of the most important best practices of great managers is that they are disciplined in regularly meeting with their employees. Not only that, but they spend that time focused on the employee, and don’t multitask, check their smart phone, and read emails. Sounds easier than it is in a modern business world where we’re always connected. These managers talk openly with employees about their development, their concerns and their aspirations. They’re natural conversation makers and know to ask questions as a coaching technique.
4. They Are Ethical and Serve as Moral Leaders
The best managers around are rock solid when it comes to doing business right. They provide an ethical sounding board for others, and serve as a moral compass for their employees, their peers AND their superiors. People can confide in them and can raise concerns without fear of punishment. They regularly remind people of ‘the right thing’ and are willing to hold others to the standard when a situation enters a grey area.
5. They Are Reasonably Organized
Are they precise with their schedule every day, five days a week to the minute? No, of course not. If they did, it would be a cause for concern! Do they get distracted, can they get overwhelmed, and do they need to move schedules around? Yes. But the best managers around are usually well-organized and sufficiently prepared a vast majority of the time. They know how to manage their time well, they know how to prioritize and multitask when necessary.
6. They Have Superb Interpersonal Skills
Great managers have great people skills. Because they can relate well to many types of personalities, and are able to work effectively as part of a team (and as an individual), the great managers you encounter are almost instantly likeable. Sure there’s the occasional scuffle, but skilled leaders know how to work through almost any conflict.
7. They Continuously Plan, Forecast and Measure
The best leaders around are able to comfortably plan and forecast activities in the future. They are comfortable building a budget. They can anticipate customer moves, and can adapt to change. Further, these managers can establish effective and simple ways of measuring projects that are no overly cumbersome and provide an indication of business performance and health.
8. They Promote Process, But Aren’t Afraid to Improvise
Process and control is a manager’s best friend. Great managers and leaders know that protocol offers the stability and guidance to the inner workings of their team. But equally, these managers know that excessive process can be detrimental to progress and are willing to improvise and write their own rules when appropriate. They know that one size doesn’t fit all.
9. They Set the Bar High, and Shoot To Achieve Even Higher
Contrary to what one might believe, setting low expectations quickly results in complacency and mediocre performance. Why? Because in today’s work environments, most employees like to be challenged, and want to celebrate accomplishment. When expectations are low, you can expect something similar from the performance of the team. But setting the bar high, and expecting a lot creates a challenge that great managers know their employees will strive to achieve. Of course, these manager are also not afraid to roll up their sleeves to help the team get there.
10. They Can Make Decisions, And Are Willing to Take Responsibility for Them
Managers make countless decisions every day. Approve or reject the expense report? Spend money on the new equipment? Call the customer, or wait until we have the data first? Even so, great managers are not afraid to take responsibility when they made a bad choice, or make a mistake. They’re human, and they’re willing to admit it.
11. They Encourage Teamwork, But Value Individuality
One common mistake that far too many managers make is looking at all employees through the same lens. “An accountant is an accountant, is an accountant.” In contrast to this, though, the best practice of good managers is to identify and leverage the individual skills and talents of each employee. And while such managers encourage teamwork, they’re not afraid to put introverts in situations where they can work alone and crank out results.
12. They Praise Publicly, But Punish Privately
A best practice that the best managers have mastered is knowing how and when to motivate, to give tough feedback, to instill pride, and to hold people accountable. They know that by giving a shout out to an employee who went above and beyond in front of the team is a great way to motivate that employee, as well as others who wish for such praise. Those managers also know that by publicly blasting an employee or giving them harsh feedback in front of others is never appropriate. Recall the time you had a boss call you out for making a mistake, or otherwise embarrass you in front of the team. Didn’t feel good, did it? And you didn’t really trust that manager after that, did you? The best managers out there know that when a tough conversation is needed, it’s behind closed doors, its fair and it’s honest.
13. They Suppress Significant Emotion and Stress
Tough Day? Sometimes, you’d never know. The best managers out there are skilled at keeping their teams’ motivated even when they themselves feel like they’ve been dragged through the mud. Doing so means that they have to withhold negativity and not let little frustrations impact the performance of the team. Do they get mad? Sure. Can they let off some steam? Absolutely. But this is the exception, not the norm, and is usually short-lived.
14. They Build Personal, As Well As Professional Relationships
With such great people skills, the managers who get the best results do so by developing healthy, trustful relationships with employees. They know that employees will go the extra mile time and time again when the employee has a personal willingness to go above and beyond when duty calls. The only way to guarantee this behavior is to make sure the manager and employee have a genuine relationship. Should you go and party with your employees every Friday night? Probably not a good idea. But being willing to let loose and talk about the game or tell a joke is something that great managers use as part of their strategy to deliver fantastic results.