It takes a lot to be a great manager. You need to inspire your employees. You need to have vision and guidance. And most importantly, you need to be focused at all times. There are a plethora of articles online and in academia which focus on managership and what it takes to become a successful manager. It’s honestly a question as old as time and one that doesn’t have a definitive, scientific answer.
What we can do, though, is utilize previous experiences and anecdotes which great managers have passed down. Simply reading this advice obviously won’t be enough to fulfill your pursuit of becoming a great manager, but the very fact that you’re researching it is a good step in-of-itself.
Before we dive into what it takes to be a great manager, we should focus on what managership is. Managership, for our purposes, is the ability of an individual to guide a group of people or organization to their chosen goal successfully and collaboratively.
What I mean by this, is that not only does a great manager get their team to the goal, but they do so in a collaborative, inclusive environment, with no individual left behind. A manager is only as successful as the team or organization that they lead. And a team in disarray, fragmented by internal and external disputes, can never be truly successful.
Part of being a great manager, boss, and leader is understanding what your employees and team want from you. Although it may be difficult to generalize what employees want, through our own research and studies, we have found the top 8 things every employee wants from their boss.
While many items on this list may seem obvious, all too often managers take their employees needs for granted and forgo the basic courtesies. By providing employees with what they want, and oftentimes what they need, a manager is better able to motivate, collaborate, and push forward stronger than before.
Our below list of the 8 things every employee wants from their boss has been curated through studies, interviews, and discussions with employees throughout various industries and career levels. We discussed the needs and wants with these employees in a confidential, private manner, allowing them to be fully honest and transparent.
Tips to be a Great Manager
Be Proactive on Employee Concerns and Suggestions
Perhaps the number one suggestion we heard throughout various industries and workplaces from employees was the need for managers to be proactive on employee concerns and suggestions. From our discussions, many individuals complained of providing suggestions and voicing concerns, only to have their suggestions fall on deaf ears.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to take your employees concerns and suggestions seriously. However, this does not mean that every suggestion must be implemented. Rather, as a manager, it is your responsibility and duty to be transparent and let your employees know why a suggestion may not be particularly feasible.
Following up on the need to be proactive, a majority of employees surveyed requested additional transparency and openness from their management team. While, as a manager, it can be difficult to be completely honest, especially on sensitive issues, you should be able to discern what can and cannot be shared with your team.
As a manager, your team looks to you for updates and for honest feedback. This honesty and transparency not only helps to create a more engaged workplace, but also creates an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect.
Many managers are terrible at communicating. They don’t let their team know what is happening until it’s too late or let them know too early when a final decision may not yet be made.
Even worse? When a manager doesn’t reveal big changes in process or department until word has already leaked and they begin playing catch-up.
You should aim to be a manager who is transparent on what is upcoming, what your expectations are, and what you believe to be realistic. In fact, you can go ahead and let your team know of things that may come but aren’t fully finalized and have a possibility of being dropped.
But you don’t want overshare. Company layoffs? Revenue misses? Office rumors? All things you should steer clear of and avoid completely.
Recognize and Show Appreciation
Your employees show up to work day-after-day and ensure that the needs of the role and the company are completed. Oftentimes, these employees do so with little to no recognition, which can foster resentment and discontent.
A simple, yet effective, way to dampen these feelings of resentment and increase overall employee morale is to provide employees with a simple thank you and good job. These remarks let your team know that you see their efforts and that they are not going to waste.
If you’re unsure of some ways to show appreciation to your team, feel free to check out our article on employee appreciation ideas. These ideas can help you to get started in showing your team that you appreciate their work and the effort they put in day-after-day.
Good managers know processes, great managers know people. Get to know your team and really listen to their concerns. What problems are they having and what problems are they looking to solve.
You should be able to listen to your team and provide constructive feedback and advice. In addition, you will want to make your team to feel comfortable enough to share with you when they have an idea or an issue.
This two-way level of communication helps to bridge gaps and avoids bigger problems down the line.
Limit Unnecessary Work and Meetings
By-and-large, effective managers simply allow their employees to get their work done. They don’t interfere with their tasks and don’t bog them down with unnecessary work. This includes not placing unnecessary meetings on their calendar and keeping meetings to only on an as-needed basis.
Be Empathetic and Understanding
Oftentimes, as a manager, it may be difficult to recognize the stresses and complications that occur during the course of the workweek. For your employees, particularly those on the front line, they must deal with and handle these stresses professionally and cordially.
As a manager, it is important to empathize and understand the stresses your team faces. Although you may not be able to assist in every situation and predicament, you should be a helping hand and show your team that you understand the difficulty they are going through.
Share Your Expectations
One of the top 8 things every employee wants from their boss is for them to be direct on what their expectations are. Let’s face it, none of us here are mind readers. As-such, it is important to be direct and let your employees know exactly what your expectations are.
Letting your employees know what your expectations are and sharing your requirements with them will not only help them to achieve those expectations but will also build a stronger relationship between you two.
Stand Up for Them
One of the main things we heard from employees across industries is the fact that employees want their managers and bosses to stand up for them. As a manager, it is your responsibility to build and protect your team. Even if a mistake is made, the responsibility for conveying that mistake falls on your shoulders.
Ask More Questions
Too often, especially as a manager, it is easy to believe that you understand all the nuances and intricacies which go on in the work of your staff. However, often, employees are working on tasks and projects which you may not be fully informed on. A good manager asks good questions and looks to understand the work their employees are doing on a daily basis.
Perhaps the one thing that almost every employee complains of is a manager that micromanages their work. Good managers trust their employees and they don’t feel the need to micromanage their work.
Good managers let their employees work on what they need to get done and trust them to have it completed. Though an employee may not always take the same route as they would, they allow their employees to act as an individual to get the job done.
By far, one of the top 8 things every employee wants from their boss is to simply be human! Employees look to their managers for assistance, support, and motivation. As a manager, you should be human and show your staff that you are all in this together. By showing your human, real side, you can create a much deeper, more long-lasting bond with your employees and staff, ultimately reducing turnover and increasing employee retention.
Address Problems Head On And Right Away
Problems that aren’t addressed are left to fester and can affect the morale of the entire team. Again, when it comes to things to do as a first-time manager, you must ensure that large, problematic issues are addressed immediately.
As a manager, the onus is on you to stem a problem before it can fester and grow. You should be aware of any issues or problems occurring or affecting your team so that you can resolve it from the beginning.
A good manager keeps their team focused and motivated, problems are a distraction and should be quickly resolved.
What NOT to do to be a Great Manager
It’s pretty well known that a great manager can inspire, lead, and empower their team. They make difficult jobs easy and instill a sense of passion and purpose in each one of their employees. Bad bosses, however, do the exact opposite. They make the job perpetually worse and instill a sense of regret, fear, and resentment in their employees. The traits of a bad boss are usually easy to spot and should be avoided if you can.
We even have a whole post about how to tell you have a great manager.
Bad bosses can come in many different shapes and sizes, but some of the below traits are so common that almost everyone can identify and recognize a poor boss by them.These traits are so common in bad bosses that they can be comically bad and are often portrayed in movies due to how overwhelming they can be. Whether you’re a manager or not, I think we can all agree that these tendencies are pretty bad.
Micromanages Every Aspect Of the Team
Micromanaging certain aspects of a of a process or a project is sometimes necessary and needed. However, managers should trust and empower their teams to accomplish the tasks that they were hired for.
A good manager is only as effective as their team is without them there. If a manager has to micromanage every aspect of a workflow or an employee’s day, then that is an ineffective use of their time and they are managing their employees incorrectly. This is one of the telltale traits of a bad boss, they believe they need to micromanage simply because they do not trust their team.
Lack Of Empathy For the Team
A good manager understands that their employees are human, and that life sometimes gets in the way. A good manager tries to work with their employees to overcome their personal and professional challenges and to help them to succeed.
Bad managers, on the other hand, lack basic empathy and regard for their employees. They look to the bottom line in all circumstances and scenarios.
A good manager has a deep level of caring and empathy for their employees. They want them to succeed and they work with them every day to do the best they can to reach their potential.
Verbally Abuses Members Of the Team
Some of the worst managers are those that think they can yell, shout, or scream at their employees. Whether done in public or in private, it is never okay for a manager to verbally abuse an employee.
If you feel that your manager has verbally abused you, you should discuss it immediately with that manager. If you feel that speaking with them won’t help or may place you in a dangerous position, then you should seek the assistance of human resources or another manager in the office.
If you’ve exhausted all your options and continue to deal with verbal abuse, then I would recommend looking for another position and removing yourself from that environment as quickly as possible. This is one of the worst traits of a bad boss and should be avoided if possible.
Never Offer Praise
A pillar of bad and poor management is the lack of praise, no matter how well something was done or accomplished. A manager should constantly give feedback, both good and bad, to their employees. But if you notice that your manager only offers criticism and never praises anyone on the team, then that’s a telltale sign of a bad manager.
Takes Credit For Other People’s Work
A manager should look for ways to have their team succeed and be recognized. They should extol the virtues and good work that their team has done and accomplished and look to ensure that credit is given where it is due. Good managers understand that when their team succeeds, then they succeed. They do not need to take credit on the day-to-day accomplishments, because they serve a larger, long-term mission and vision.
Good managers who understand the long-term vision are quick to offer praise and ensure that their employees receive credit for their accomplishments.
Bad managers typically don’t have this long-term thinking and wish to receive praise for every accomplishment done. They look to steal the spotlight and won’t give credit where it is due. Bad managers do not care if their employees are empowered or succeed, so long as they continue moving forward.
Approach Management With A One-Size Fits All Approach
Good managers, and I mean really good managers, understand that each person is different. And as each person is different, they must be approached and dealt with differently.
Management is about understanding and dealing with people. it is about helping each individual accomplish the task and job to the best of their abilities. A good manager is able to deal with each employee differently, though equitably, and ensure that they each receive the time and attention they need.
Bad managers approach management and their employees with a one-size-fits-all attitude. They believe that their management style is superior and that their employees should fit into their methodology. This attitude is a surefire way to lose employees and create resentment across the office.
Be Unfair With Extracurricular Activities
While this one isn’t thought of too much, a common trait in bad bosses and managers are those that aren’t fair with extracurricular activities. By that, we mean that they don’t spread the opportunities to travel or attend industry conferences with their employees.
Bad bosses don’t understand the importance of industry events and don’t push to have their employees attend. They tend to take these opportunities for themselves and don’t share the information they’ve learnt.
Good managers understand the importance of industry events and conferences. They push to have employees from their team attend and network. By attending these events, employees gain exposure to industry news and trends and can bring back this information to the rest of their team.
Don’t Lead By Example
A classic case of a bad manager is one who expects a certain level of output and productivity from their employees which they themselves don’t put in. Bad managers will hold their employees to a standard which they themselves fail to achieve.
A good manager is one that leads by example and doesn’t expect from their employees what they themselves don’t put in.
Don’t Have A Focus or a Goal For The Team
A good manager is one that has a long-term vision and goal for their team and the individual employees on their team. They are constantly thinking about how to achieve those goals and what actions need to be taken to be successful.
A bad manager, conversely, acts on a whim without direction or guidance. They’re not cognizant of the future or the steps needed to be taken to be successful.
A bad manager expects their employees to be available at all hours of the day. They expect immediate responses, regardless of day of the week or event, and are upset by slow response times during after-work hours. Bad bosses do not respect employees time after work and expect their employees to remain perpetually on call.
Make Inappropriate Comments
Bad managers are, at-times, extremely inappropriate. They make rude, derogatory, and misogynistic comments towards their employees and belittle them. They believe that they have the authority to make any comment they believe and will act offended if anyone calls them out.
Don’t Admit Their Mistakes
A bad manager is never wrong. They believe that everything they do is correct and if something does go wrong, then they blame others and the process. A bad manager is quick to blame others and never admits when an issue falls on them.
Poor communication both with their team and the company as a whole. Bad managers are unable and ineffective at communicating goals, accomplishments, and feedback. They are unable to convey their message and leave everyone worse off than before.
Ineffective At Achieving Career Goals
Perhaps the single worst thing bad managers do is they don’t get employees promoted or on the route to achieving their career goals. A manager’s job is to help their best employees get recognized and move forward in their career and bad managers are ineffective at both.
Just Don’t Care
And perhaps the single worst trait in a bad boss, is that they just don’t care. They don’t care about their work, the company, or their employees. They are happy or content with their own success and nothing else really matters to them.
Have you ever had a bad boss? Like, a really bad boss? Without naming names, what are some of the things they used to do that really got under your skin?
As a manager, it is important to understand the needs of your employees. Understanding their needs will not only help you to be a better manager but will also help you to create a more motivated and engaged team. We’ve discussed the top things every employee wants from their boss and hope this list will help to make you the best manager you can be!
When it comes to things to do as a manager, you should be wholly cognizant of the needs of your specific team. No two teams are alike and what may work well for one, can and may backfire for another. Always be sure to assess your team beforehand and continue iterating to see what works.