11 Best Practices To Improve Your Management Skills In 2020

Being an effective manager and building excellent soft skills doesn’t happen overnight. However, we found a way to help you level up your management game by following these 11 steps.
by
Entrepreneurship, Management
January 18 |

As a business owner, it’s important that you hone your management skills to get the most out of your team. After all, being an effective manager is imperative towards building a successful company. Even as an entrepreneur, you’re a manager by nature because your responsibilities include management. Your vision to achieving your dream will be contingent on your employees helping you do that efficiently. 

Employees often perform at a higher level when you address their needs, set clearly-defined goals, and express gratitude for their labor. These are just some of the best practices you need to develop to become a great manager for your team.

Vital management skills statistics

A study by The Predictive Index found that 28% of surveyed employees believe their managers lack team-building skills more than any other skill. Meanwhile, 17% of them think their managers are not good enough at offering them constructive feedback. Both of these statistics show that managers need to better communicate with their workers to become more successful leaders.

Another damning statistic is that 79% of employees leave their jobs because of a “lack of appreciation.” This research shows that most employees need more than just a manager that gives directions. They also need the manager to communicate how much an employee is helping the business. With these statistics in mind, read on as we delve into the 11 best practices you need to develop to level up your management skills.

11 Ways to Becoming an Effective Manager

  1. Set clearly-defined, data-driven goals
  2. Level up your leadership skills with management courses
  3. Work on defining your personal branding
  4. Foster open communication with employees
  5. Building confidence and trust is essential
  6. Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations
  7. Reduce your micromanaging tendencies
  8. Openly admit your mistakes with employees
  9. Provide performance updates to your team
  10. Don’t forget to practice gratitude with your team
  11. Don’t forget to practice gratitude with your team

1. Set clearly-defined, data-driven goals

Get into the practice of setting goals for your business and your employees. You want to empower your team to perform at a high level, and creating tangible goals gives them something to aim for. If you are running a retail business, create company-wide sales goals, and maybe even specific revenue goals for each employee. It will showcase your leadership skills and give employees direction.

Bring data into the mix too to make data-driven decisions. Look at how your company, or even your industry has performed historically on a certain time of the year. Research market trends and read industry news to get a more full-fledged idea of what you can expect. Based on this information, set goals that are achievable.

You want to push your employees to strive farther than they knew they could, because this will help them improve in their craft. On the other side, don’t push them too hard with unrealistic goals. When you hire motivated individuals, point them to a direction, and give them reasonable expectations, prepare to see your business flourish. If you’d like to learn more about the science behind goal-setting, click here.

2. Level up your leadership skills with management courses

A good way to become better at dealing with multiple personalities is by expanding your skill set. When you take management training courses, you can learn different leadership techniques. And with these new abilities, you can become better at steering everyone in the team in the same direction.

Level up gif

If you have never managed a team before, consider taking a first-time, new manager course so you can learn the core values of leadership. You can also take emotional intelligence courses to better understand others, boosting your ability to lead effectively. Another useful course option is conflict resolution, which can reduce stress among employees, and create a more harmonious, connected team.

Remember, your goal is to create a positive and successful work environment. When you equip yourself with the right leadership tools, you will be in a good position to be a great manager for your team.

3. Work on defining your personal branding

Creating your own brand takes time, and it’s an important element if you want to become a strong manager. What do we mean by personal branding? Think of how you want your employees to see you and think of you. Your attitude will affect the attitude of your employees. And their attitude will affect their performance on the job.

To refine your personal branding, think about how you dress, how you speak, and how you act around your team. They will adopt these traits, which will set the tone for the rest of your business. Also consider what you’d like their personal branding to look like. 

Are you enforcing a business dress code for a more buttoned-up office environment, or do you prefer a casual attire more fitting for an outdoor gear store? Is it encouraged for employees to talk about their personal lives and crack jokes? What kind of music are you playing in your business (if any)? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself when figuring out your personal branding.

4. Foster open communication with employees

We were talking about the importance of enhancing your team-building skills earlier, and having open communication channels is a vital part of building a strong team. You want employees who believe in what they do, and are focused on the same goal. Communicating what you need from them is half the battle. The other half? Listening to them and adjusting to their needs.

Look for “mutuality” with your employees, which is when you and your employees understand that you’re all on the same page. Renowned psychologist Judith V. Jordan says empathic attunement is vital for getting to mutuality, which she defines as “a process during which one’s self-boundaries undergo momentary alteration which in itself allows the possibility for change in the self.” That means that you need to be changing with your employees, and they need to change with you.

Remember, you want your employees to be happy, focused, and moving in the same direction. And that begins with communicating your needs and addressing theirs.

5. Building confidence and trust is essential

There are some managers who lead with fear, which creates a toxic culture in which people don’t feel comfortable openly expressing their opinion. Instead, it’s better to lead by instilling confidence and trust in your employees

Create a culture where people can openly share their concerns, ideas, and successes. When you do so, you can celebrate each other’s triumphs, while also providing constructive feedback to them. Supplement this feedback by communicating your support for your team, while also reminding them of their ability to do good work. Continued support and reassurance in your employees will make them more confident. And doing so will push them to be more motivated and perform at a higher level.

6. Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations

The phrase “good vibes only” has been adopted by many millennials over the years, yet it has a fatal flaw. It’s sometimes necessary to challenge someone and have difficult, tense conversations with that person to grow. The same is true when you’re the manager of a growing business.

If someone made a move that was costly to your business, don’t be afraid to ask about their thought process behind their decision. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you need to have these conversations so your employees can change their thinking and grow with you. 

To have difficult conversations, consider trying out “productive confrontations,” which begin a conversation from a place that’s mutually beneficial. Remember, you guys are working as a unit with a unified goal, so even difficult conversations need to always have the greater good in mind.

7. Reduce your micromanaging tendencies

Stress management is an important function of a good manager, and employee stress is sometimes caused by micromanaging bosses. There is research that shows micromanaging workers leads to a higher chance of an early death, literally, which is why it helps to give employees more free reign to do their work. 

Business experts suggest there are several things you can do to replace your micromanaging ways. Instead of managing individual tasks, you can manage expectations instead. If your workers are trained, that means they have the tools to do their work well. And if you focus on what needs to be done rather than how to do it, your employees will have less stress when performing their tasks.

You can also reduce your micromanaging by asking employees how they want to be managed. We mentioned how important it is to have strong interpersonal communication skills when you’re a business leader, and this is a tool that comes in handy at this point. If you know what style works best for each employee, you can adjust your managing abilities accordingly.

8. Openly admit your mistakes with employees

Stay humble (and strong), folks. How do you achieve this goal as a business leader? One of the most underrated management skills out there is the power of humility. When you openly admit your mistakes with your team, it shows them your human side. No one is flawless, and you’re no exception, so be willing to reveal your shortcomings when they arise.

When you’re open about your mistakes, it shows employees that you’re humble, which is a sign of someone who is strong in character. It also shows that you’re willing to fail, find out where you went wrong, and get back up. And if your whole team gets to see this process, they’ll respect you more, and have less fear in admitting their own mistakes.

When you’re open about your mistakes, it shows employees that you’re humble, which is a sign of someone who is strong in character. It also shows that you’re willing to fail, find out where you went wrong, and get back up. And if your whole team gets to see this process, they’ll respect you more, and have less fear in admitting their own mistakes.

9. Make adjustments along the way

There’s a motivational quote that goes, “be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.” As a business owner, you’ll need to evolve with changing market and customer needs to survive. So even if your revenue goal remains the same, you sometimes need to make adjustments on how to get there if you want to avoid coming up short.

Think of this–if you’re running a store, you may have to do some research into how to set the layout of your store. There is some science on how to design your store’s appearance, and figuring out how to best set up your business can boost sales. 

Similarly, if you’ve always had the same systems in place to run your business, you may be turning a blind eye to a better system. Do some research, talk to employees, and see if you can find a more efficient way of achieving certain goals. By remaining flexible and making adjustments when necessary, your business will be in a better position to evolve with the changing tide.

10. Provide performance updates to your team

Part of the fun of achieving goals are the milestones you hit along the way. And by sharing these milestones with employees, you’re creating a sense of accomplishment across your team. One great technique to celebrate milestones is by sharing stories that can add value to their lives. These feelings can re-energize workers, making them more motivated to continue pushing forward with your leadership.

It can also be a worthwhile exercise to speak to team members individually. Give them performance reviews where you talk about what they’ve done well, and where they can improve. We recommend you begin by bringing up their successes, followed by constructive criticism for areas they can perform better in, and then end it on a positive note, reminding them of their strengths. 

Support your comments with metrics, insights, or customer testimonials. By keeping employees in the loop about the business’ collective performance and their individual performances, you continue building trust and respect.

11. Don’t forget to practice gratitude with your team

Another integral element of being a successful manager is being grateful for the work your team puts in. Showing gratitude is free, and letting your team know you appreciate them can create an environment of good will. And this good will can overcome any challenges or disputes that your team may experience.

It can also be powerful to express gratitude for specific projects that someone performed well in. A good manager wants to create leaders, and commending someone when they take the initiative and do something well will build belief in them. Remember, if your employees are happy, your business is too. 

The Takeaway

A good manager puts themselves in the shoes of their employees, thinking about how to make them as motivated as possible in a healthy and constructive way. This manager keeps the needs of customers in mind when leading their employees. By combining these two elements, they become a manager that achieves their business goals, while also creating a team built on trust and respect.

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