How to Be a Great Manager


November 10, 2022

Marco Palomino

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X min

5 min

Ten tips to become the manager of your team's dreams!

The best bosses and managers give regular meaningful recognition to their team.

Table of Contents

As a manager, you have the opportunity and responsibility to help people thrive and contribute to your organization’s goals in a meaningful way.  

A great manager fosters relationships to build trust with their team. Marcus Buckingham, author of two of the best-selling business books of all time, explains that truly getting to know your team can make a world of difference.

“Learn what motivates them, and their unique styles of learning, be it by watching, doing or analyzing.” –Marcus Buckingham

How To be a Great Manager

Gallup reports that only 10% of people are born with the right skills to be a great manager. But here’s the good news: anyone with the right mindset who follows these tips, can become a great manager.

1. Hire intentionally

Hiring is where great management begins. You can provide potential hires with a clear picture of what it will be like to work at your organization. In addition, a great manager will focus on hiring employees that can balance their current team – hiring for cultural-add vs cultural fit. As Marcus Buckingham said, knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses can make a world of difference. As a manager, you can maximize the hiring opportunity and bring someone on with complementary skills to build a well-rounded team.

2. Onboard well

Great onboarding is so important – first impressions matter! While the interview process might be the first point of contact, onboarding is where employees really take in your culture and approach. As a manager, ensuring your employees are set up for success with everything they need, from equipment to resources, goes a long way. Intentionally scheduling time for casual conversation also helps with relationship-building and making your new hires feel welcome. Recognizing onboarding milestones can also help build motivation and engagement fast.

3. Know your employees

This isn't something that can happen right away; it takes time to know a person well. It takes showing genuine interest in their life, their routine, and even their struggles. Marcus Buckingham explains that managers can only succeed when they learn to communicate and work with each of their employees as individuals. . This allows you to use their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses to accomplish organizational goals.  In order to facilitate this familiarity, managers need to be approachable first. According to Gallup, 54% of employees who feel their manager is approachable are also engaged at work.    

4. Set clear expectations

Great managers take time to get to know their team, but delivering great work matters too. Setting weekly 1-1 meetings with your employees will help foster a stronger relationship and clear any doubts or roadblocks.

Weekly check-ins that are collaborative and growth-focused will increase top talent retention. These check-ins build trust and can increase the employee's sense of belonging, which is another  significant factor that differentiates the average manager from the great one. One important tip is to be consistent - try your best to keep this meeting and show up on time. It can sometimes feel easy to cancel or postpone, but remember that someone on your team might be waiting for that time to ask an important question or share concerns.

5. Be transparent and collaborative in setting goals

A great manager understands that each employee has their own personal career goals. Here is the problem, 63% of employees left their job in 2021 due to a lack of opportunities for advancement. Engagement and productivity can be affected if employees don’t see a future at your organization. Once employees share with you where they see themselves in the future, support them by providing opportunities to gain the experience needed to achieve their goals. Have these career conversations early and often.

6. Praise and recognize often

Studies have found that recognition reinforces a team’s sense of meaning and purpose, among many other benefits. According to Gallup, 74% of employees that receive praise at work report feeling that what they do is valuable and useful. A recognition platform like Kudos can help you here. The platform allows managers to recognize their team publicly while reinforcing the company’s values and vision. Simply put - recognition matters!  

7. Celebrate milestones

Celebrating your employees boosts morale by helping employees feel seen and recognized. A work anniversary, birthday, and other meaningful events in employee’s lives are opportunities for managers to celebrate achievements and growth. Automated platforms make it simple to stay on top of important dates so no one ever gets missed.

8. Lead by example

Plain and simple - great managers practice what they preach. Think back to your interview, did you emphasize work-life balance and no work on evenings and weekends? If so, don’t contact your team outside of working hours. Also, don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and help when your team needs it. Be open to the fact that you might not always have the answer to every problem. Sometimes knowing where to point your team for the right support - rather than trying to solve everything yourself - can stop you from becoming a bottleneck.

9. Consider the principles of servant leadership

Becoming a great manager requires a great deal of trust from your employees. But for trust to mean anything, it needs to be reciprocated. Servant leadership encourages leaders to put the well-being of their employees first, and showing employees that you trust them to do their job effectively is key to fostering that well-being. Servant leadership also encourages employee success by providing a positive environment where employees can feel supported.  

10. Use data to guide you

Great managers don't focus on fixing employees' weaknesses but rather leveraging and fostering their strengths. Today managers can also use data to better understand employees' behaviours and relationships. Whether it's people analytics collected from your recognition platform, engagement surveys or business results, pay attention to trends and changes to flag engagement and performance challenges before it's too late.

Great managers build healthy relationships with their teams by understanding how unique each employee is. They listen to what their team needs and provide tailored solutions, so the employee feels supported and happy at your organization.  

Great managers don’t focus on the past or any weaknesses, they care about the future and strengths of their people.  

Muni Boga: One of Canada’s Most Admired CEOs

Muni Boga: One of Canada’s Most Admired CEOs

“From day one, we have emphasized that Kudos is a safe and open environment for both our leadership and team. This encourages innovation and client-centric thinking – both key drivers in our success. Not to mention, it‘s the right thing to do.”

Muni Boga
CEO, Kudos

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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