Anyone Can Improve Their Management Skills with These Expert Tips

By Kellie Rondon on May 04, 2023
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Are leaders born or are they made? While we’re all born with certain traits, they aren’t the end-all, be-all determinate of the strength of your leadership qualities. In fact, studies show that real-world leadership and management ability is a skill, which, like any skill, can be practiced, improved, and ultimately mastered. 

At Axcet HR Solutions, I‘ve had the opportunity to partner with countless inspiring leaders and have learned something unique from each one. Here are the most meaningful and effective tips that anyone can use to become a better manager and leader.

handling employee complaints against a manager

How to Become a Better Manager & Leader 

1. Know the difference between a manager vs. a leader

A manager is someone who is in charge of subordinates at work. They may have the ability to fire, hire and/or promote individuals, assign tasks to subordinates, and so on.  

Leaders, on the other hand, are those who (inside or outside of an employment environment) have the ability to motivate a group of people, inspire them, influence them and enable them to accomplish a goal. Just because someone is assigned to a managerial post at work doesn’t mean they are actually perceived as a leader.  

While the title of “manager” can be given to anyone, being recognized as a leader is earned only through the respect of your subordinates or peers. 

Six Leadership Skills No Good Manager Should Be Without

2. Gather feedback from your teammates

If you want to know what type of management style your team members prefer, just ask. While some of your subordinates may like to have very clear expectations set out for each project, frequent communication, deadlines and routine check-ins, others might consider this seemingly supportive management style to be a form of micro-management.

Many employees prefer a hands-off management style, as they feel it helps them get “in the zone” during projects. Your team members will want different forms of support, and it’s up to you to determine how you can meet their needs and preferences effectively while still producing top-quality work as a group. The first step to figuring out what your teammates need in a manager is simply to ask. 

3. Maintain a positive work environment

Not all moments experienced by a working group will be positive—there will inevitably be an occasional missed opportunity, a goal that you’ve fallen short of, and hard lessons learned along the way. But the environment in which these tough moments are encountered can and should stay reasonably positive no matter what challenges you face together.

While all team members contribute to the shaping of the work environment, managers can take the reins. To create a positive work environment, focus on delivering constructive feedback instead of blame, giving specific praise when it’s earned, and making sure each and every employee feels comfortable sharing their questions and ideas. 

RELATED:How to Create a Positive Culture that Drives Performance >> 

4. Let your team members know what you need from them

Each industry, department and functional group is different and will come with different expectations. Do you need your employees to be available at a moment’s notice to fight fires with you? Do you need them to be proactive in pursuing a goal and taking initiative even when you can’t provide clear direction? Do you need them to serve as a first point of contact between you and clients or employees from other departments? 

While the objectives and attributes you need from your employees may seem obvious enough to you, they might not be so clear to your employees. Communicating exactly what you expect out of the group (and each employee) will not only help your employees see you as someone who can delegate effectively, it will also build trust within your working relationship.

As a bonus, employees will do their best work when they know exactly how they can best help you and precisely what role you need them to play on the team. 

RELATED: When Employees Lose Trust in Their Boss >> 

5. Give praise in the ways that it’s best received

Employees have a much easier time respecting a manager who has shown that they can give respect in return. Sharing specific praise with your employees is one of the simplest ways to show your employees that they (and their efforts) are seen, appreciated, and respected.

Telling your employees what you like about their work and what has been particularly helpful to you or your company as a whole is a great way to not only incentivize repeated good behavior but also to build your brand as an engaging leader. 

Keep in mind that your employees might prefer to receive praise in different ways—for example, while some like public appreciation, others will prefer one-on-one feedback. While some workers may want their competencies recognized through your entrustment of them with greater responsibilities, others will feel far more appreciated if you treated them to lunch.

Don’t know how your employees want to receive praise? Their performance reviews can be a perfect, natural time to raise the question. 

workplace crisis management

6. Tap into your empathy and humanize your relationship with your employees 

You know many of your employees better than anyone at your company. This puts you at a unique advantage to stand up for them, champion their long-term career goals, and look out for their best interests. If you can manage to create a level of trust with your employees wherein they know you are looking out for them and their interests, you can cement your status as their respected leader.

Listen for clues as to how you can provide optimal and appropriate support for challenges and transitions in their personal lives. Some workers may want more flexible work hours while others need to be connected to your benefits expert to get the best value from their coverage.

Thank your employees for all they do to support you and don’t forget to ask them what they need from you to support their personal and professional lives. The ability to foster a permanently open dialogue for employees to express their needs is key to creating the trust you need from your team members to lead them effectively. 

RELATED:How to Manage Introverts >> 

Axcet: Your Human Resources & Employee Relations Experts 

If you’re the kind of manager who is actively trying to improve, you’re already showing one of the most important qualities of being a fantastic leader. At Axcet HR, we love to work with managers like you: leaders who are constantly taking in new information, seeking to improve, and fostering a positive work culture with their team. 

Axcet is your partner in meeting your employee relations and human resources goals. We know that growing small and mid-sized businesses don't always have the resources they need to support a full HR department. You can trust Axcet to take on your full suite of HR duties for you, so you can focus on growing and scaling your core business. Schedule a free consultation today to see what Axcet HR can take care of for you.

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Written by Kellie Rondon

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