Characteristics of Great Managers

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When you’re going into management, it’s important to commit yourself to being a good manager. People who are good at managing have easier shifts, get more things done and they can do it all with the support of their employees.

My advice to you: Think back to one of your favorite bosses (I’m talking about the one that was your favorite because it was always nice working with them, not the one you loved because they didn’t enforce the rules), and think about everything that made them great to work with. I can promise you that all great managers have these things in common:

They Don’t Let Outside Factors Influence Their Performance at Work

Everyone has a hard day. Everyone has days where they come into work in a bad mood. That’s okay. When this happens, get to work five minutes early. Sit in your car and try to clear your head. If that doesn’t work, give yourself an hour on the clock. If the mood doesn’t go away, the best thing to do is to let your coworkers know that you’ve had a rough day and that your actions might display that. This makes it easier to sympathize.

Keep in mind that your attitude is going to affect the quality of the shift or project for everyone else, not just you.

They’re a Leader, Not a Boss

A leader is someone who shows the employees that they’re able to do the work by helping out when they’re needed. A boss is someone who sits behind a desk and yells orders. People tend to respect the manager who’s willing to help with the dirty work more than one who thinks that ‘they’re above it’.

When managing, it’s best to always take on a ‘do as I do, not as I say’ type of mentality because when it comes down to it, your employees are going to mimic you.

They Respect Their employees

It’s a two-way street. Employees seek respect in the forms of having their availability honored, being given the time off that they need (i.e. not being called in on their only day off), and being recognized for great work. It also means understanding when an employee has a bad day and isn’t performing like they usually do.

If they see these things, they’re more likely to respect you when you take some time off or when you have a bad day.

Tip: A really easy way to show respect is to acknowledge your coworkers when they arrive and when they leave. A simple “Hey! Welcome to work,” or “Have a great night, I’ll see you tomorrow,” can mean a lot to an employee.

They Don’t Mix up Being a Manager and Being a Friend.

It’s important to be friendly, but it’s hard to be friends with the people your managing. You have to hold everyone the same standards or it’ll seem like your picking favorites. If your friends with your employees, they’re already one of your favorites and you’re more likely to be biased towards them.

It can mean a lot to a coworker if you take an interest in their personal lives and can ask them about it when you see them next, but you can do that without being a friend.

They’re Understanding

It’s important for employees to know that if life gets in their way, you’ll be cool about it. This means not demanding someone to be at work even though they’re sick, letting someone take the day off because their dog died, or forgiving someone who has a perfect attendance record for being late one time.

It’s important to be understanding, but don’t be a pushover.

If someone needs a day off for a reason that’s not a sudden illness or family emergency, make it clear that they need to give you x amount of notice or that they need to find someone to cover their shift. If the person is always late, it’s okay to put your foot down and tell them that they need to start showing up on time.

They Can Make a Solid Decision.

Decision-making skills are crucial for managers. You have to be able to make decisions on the fly and be sure that it’s the right one. This is something that most managers seem to struggle with (including myself), and it can lead to a lot of confusion when you’re working.

When you make a decision, stick to it until you realize that it’s not working, then be venerable enough to admit that you were wrong and try again.

Tip: If you’re bad at making decisions on the fly, try to plan out what you’d do if everything goes correctly before the day starts. Then make a plan B because nothing really ever goes right. A plan C isn’t a bad idea either.

They Can Admit When They’re Wrong and Take Advice from Their Employees

When I first started my managing job at a new Starbucks, my coworkers would show appreciation towards my ability to bring in new ideas, but also work with how they’ve run shifts in the past.

Because I respected their routines and took their advice on the easiest way to run a shift at the store, I was able to fall right into a new crowd of people and be respected for my management. However, I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I believed that my way was the only right way.

Another thing to remember is that as a manager, you specialize in managing and running things. This often leads to gaps in your knowledge of how things can work on an employee’s level. When you’re called to cover for one, let them coach you on how to do it. It’ll make everyone’s lives a lot easier and bring up their level of respect.

Being a manager is less about leading with an iron fist and more about creating a culture of understanding and consistent expectations. This leads to an environment where everyone knows what’s going on and what to expect.