In popular culture, there is a reverence and awe for famed leaders like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Darth Vader. Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch. But too often, we forget that no one is born to be a great leader. The best managers learn their skills over years of work and experience.
Like any skill, you can learn how to be a better manager as long as you’re willing to put in the necessary time and effort. It takes practice to learn leadership skills, manager responsibilities, and how to inspire employees. But as you develop these skills, you’ll be able to successfully lead a team whether you are building a tech giant, running the most lucrative ecommerce company in the world, or even trying to take over the galaxy.
When you have mastered the first skill, move on to the next one. Your ability to learn the best ways to delegate tasks, choose the right team members, and plan for the future will determine whether your projects are a success or failure. It can also be a deciding factor of whether your employees stay with your team or move on to a different company.
Learning how to navigate different manager responsibilities helps reduce your stress during day-to-day operations. Instead of trying to do all of the work yourself, you can delegate tasks to your team members. You increase your chances of success by training your employees and knowing who the right person is for each job.
No one is born to be a leader. This talent is honed over years of experience, dedication, and work. By improving your management skills, you increase the chances that you and your team will be successful in the workplace. Let’s review six things you may not be doing that can help both you and your team.
1. Allow Others to Handle the Work
Many managers have a habit of agreeing to every project or assignment that comes their way. When you do too many low-level tasks, it’s impossible to see the bigger picture. In many cases, these tasks are better to delegate to a team member so the manager can focus on managing.
But on the other side of this problem is the ever-present issue of micromanaging. Once you give someone a task, let them do it. There is a huge difference between monitoring an employee’s progress and micromanaging every step of the task.
Good bosses know how to train their employees to do a task on their own. Once they assign the task, they’re able to step back and let the employee handle the responsibility. They know micromanaging only prevents the employee from learning and completing their job.
When a team member feels micromanaged, they may become frustrated and often give up. They may even quit or move to a different department where they can put their skills to use without someone constantly looking over their shoulder. One of your manager responsibilities is ensuring your team can handle their workload on their own.
To avoid this habit, spend more time initially sharing your goals for the project and letting your employees ask clarifying questions. Have an open-door policy so employees know they can come to you for help, if they need it. You can also create scheduled check-ins so your employee knows what to do while you still have a way to easily check and see that the project remains on track.
For some tasks, you can also use project management software to make delegation easier. This type of program allows you to check on the status of your team without hovering over them. It also lets you share your goals for the project and divide the tasks evenly among different team members.
2. Remember to Plan for the Future
For your team members to succeed, they need to have a direction to follow. Clear goals allow your team members to know why their job matters, what they need to do, and where you want to end up. Building a flexible strategy allows you to adapt to new situations and to plan for the future.
For your goals to be effective, they must be clear and concise. Each objective needs to have understandable details so your team members know when they have met the goal. When aiming for the right targets, you can motivate your team to do more.
While long-term goals sound great in annual plans, short-term plans are often more realistic. This allows your team members to prioritize the tasks they are doing and work for something that is attainable in the near future. Then, you can conduct weekly meetings to make sure everyone is staying on track.
Throughout this process, it is also important that you trust your team members. Give them tasks they can do, but avoid overloading them with work. If you need to, you can always update your plans and goals later on.
Managers can get a head start on this process through tools like Gantt charts. This type of timeline helps you to see what everyone is working on and divide the upcoming project among your team members. Online tools like this help you to achieve your goals and assign reasonable workloads among your team members.
3. Show Some Gratitude
When employees are overworked or undervalued, they get burned out. A Stanford study shows productivity drops significantly when employees work more than 50 hours a week. If they have more than 55 hours a week, you completely lose any benefits from working them additional hours.
It’s not always possible to work your employees less, but you can always encourage them by showing more gratitude. Being thankful is one of the most important manager responsibilities, but it is something many leaders forget about altogether. Sometimes, managers forget that paying someone to do a job is not the same as showing appreciation for it.
Gratitude can be given in the form of something as big as a promotion and a raise, or it can be as simple as telling your employee you appreciate them. When someone puts in extra effort, they like to know it’s been noticed. Public recognition or a pat on the back are simple ways you can reward your team members for doing a great job.
This is especially true for high-performing employees. These employees are highly motivated and talented, so managers often give them extra work to do. While they might happily do the additional work for a while, they need some recognition to continually encourage and motivate them.
If your team is showing up extra early to finish a rush project, consider bringing everyone coffee or donuts to show your thanks. When your team gathers for the next meeting, publicly recognize the team members who have gone above and beyond your expectations.
In addition to encouraging your most talented employees, public recognition also has a tendency to nudge under performers to do more. When they notice other employees getting praise, they will feel an urge to work harder and perform better on the project.
4. Constantly Communicate
Communication sounds like one of the most obvious manager responsibilities, but is also one of the most common tactics that gets swept under the rug. While we have countless ways to communicate in person, via email, or in memos, managers frequently forget this simple, yet important, skill.
In a recent study, researchers have found engagement is highest when employees have some type of communication with their managers every day. This can be in person, via phone, or online. Engaged employees also say their manager always return their message within 24 hours after they send it.
By communicating with your employees, you can learn about minor problems before they become a major issue. Constant communication allows your employees to feel comfortable turning to you for help or advice. It also helps you build rapport with your team members.
Over time, this rapport develops trust and increases overall engagement. All these qualities lead to your team being more productive than ever before. Build relationships with your team that allow you to do more together than you could ever do individually.
It is amazing how simple communication is and how effective it can be for a team. All you have to do is make sure you are available to talk and you respond quickly when employees reach out. Online collaboration tools have made it even easier to communicate with your employees and get updates from them.
5. Take a Break
One of the most important manager responsibilities is not about your team; it is about how you treat yourself. For you to reach the highest level of leadership, you must take care of yourself and enjoy the occasional break. Just like your employees, if you are overstressed and exhausted, you will be less productive and less pleasant to work with.
Taking a break helps to reduce decision fatigue, which occurs when your willpower and mental reasoning is broken down by making constant decisions during the day. When you suffer from decision fatigue, you end up procrastinating or making decisions without the proper mindset.
When you work for long hours without stopping, it exhausts your mind and hurts your productivity. Research has found taking breaks increases the worker’s engagement level, productivity, and creativity. It has also been shown that rest periods allow the mind to learn better and to consolidate memories.
By taking breaks, you can boost your focus and motivation. Breaks help increase your attention span and your emotional health. Plus, moving around on your break can help prevent sitting-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart ailments.
Breaks are not just important for you, but your team members need to get a break as well. While it might seem counterintuitive, working long hours without a break only hurts the worker’s productivity, focus, and creativity.
Some of your most dedicated employees may try working through lunch or skipping their breaks to get more work done. As their manager, discourage this behavior by discussing how breaks help boost their productivity and create a supportive, healthy work environment.
6. Share the Big Picture
Another common mistake managers make is to simply tell employees to do a task without explaining why they should do it. As fellow adults, employees want to know their job has meaning and purpose. For your team to do their best work and to collaborate with their co-workers, they have to know why they’re doing something.
To set your employees up for success, involve them in the bigger picture. Make sure they know your strategy and how their skills help further your team goals. If they don’t understand why a project has to be done a certain way, they are less likely to stick to the plan.
Strategic engagement is a process that helps people understand how loosely connected events form a bigger picture. It requires clearly defined roles and goals. As a leader, your goal is to help employees visualize and understand the big picture so they can understand their role in the company.
Incorporate These Manager Responsibilities into Your Routine
The average employee wants to succeed just as much as their leaders have. One of the biggest manager responsibilities is stepping back and figuring out how to create an environment where your team can do their best work. This may require new tools for communication or breaks to enhance productivity.
In some cases, the best manager is the manager who manages the least. Once your employees know the big picture and their individual role, you can step back and let them handle the rest of the work. You don’t have to micromanage the process at all when your employees know what to do and why they need to do it.
Becoming a good manager is a skill like any other. It takes time, patience, and effort to cultivate your leadership abilities. While many managers forget about these essential techniques, smart leaders know how important it is to create the right environment for their team to succeed.
Join our email subscriber list by signing up below for more tips, tricks, and tactics on how to be a better manager.
Logan Derrick is a full-time business writer and content marketing strategist. For years, he has worked closely with several project management professionals, learning from them and increasing his own knowledge of the industry. Having held multiple management positions in fields ranging from customer service to marketing, Logan has found a passion for helping others learn about project management, marketing, and the powerful tools available to professionals today.