How do you know if you’re doing a good job as a manager? What are some key performance indicators you can use to measure your management performance against?
How to Be a Good Manager
The biggest misconception is when people think leaders are good, but managers are bad. The implication is that managing is harmful to a project, but that just isn’t true.
A manager should be a leader, while a leader doesn’t necessarily have to be a manager. A leader can simply be a charismatic figurehead, really. They lead, that is they inspire people to follow them, but they don’t necessarily have the logistical skills to organize.
Leadership is a subset of management. While you don’t have to be a leader to manage a project, if you’re not, the battle is going to be waged uphill. You’ll be at a disadvantage. So, a good manager first and foremost should have those leadership skills to rally the troops and get the project moving forward.
There are good and bad managers, just like there are good and bad leaders. The mark of a good manager is to look at what they manage. If they manage an athlete or an actor, a business or whatever, if that person or enterprise is successful, then it had good management.
Think of managers as gatekeepers. They manage time and money, and handle the contractual obligations related to them. A manager takes a person or enterprise from where they are to where they want to be.
Good Management Skills
The first thing a good manager must know is that the skill set is a process. You don’t become a good manager overnight. It takes time. It takes failure, but without that failure you’d never learn from you mistakes and grow.
Related: 9 Essential Tips for New Managers
Beyond experience there are skills that all good managers have in common. These skills are wide-ranging, but you can boil them down to these seven foundational skills.
The 7 Qualities of a Good Manager
- Time Management – Time is money, they say, but it is so much more. You have a certain amount of time to do what you must do in a project. Simply put, you have a deadline. A good manager can then manage that timeline and break it down into large phases of the project, called milestones, and then into smaller parts that are called tasks. But it’s not merely creating a plan, it’s also monitoring that process and adjusting accordingly to stay on schedule.
- Communication – You can have skills up the wazoo, but without the ability to clearly and effectively communicate these ideas, you’re dead in the water. Communications isn’t giving orders, though that’s part of it. Communications is a two-way street, with as much emphasis on listening as there is on talking. If you can get your message across then you’re working efficiently, and won’t be wasting time on the backend fixing what should have been done right on the frontend.
- Conflict Resolution – Put two people together and they’re eventually going to disagree. That’s normal. Put a team together and there will be conflicts, which you’ll have to resolve those conflicts fairly and quickly to keep the project on track. This is a tricky skill because you don’t want to simply use your authority or risk resentments. You should allow people to be heard and create an environment where people come together for the greater good of the project.
- Team Building – It’s one thing to assemble a team, it’s another to create a unit that works together seamlessly. That takes time and effort. Some people might just adhere like glue and get down to work. If you every have a team like that, tell us, because they’re likely hanging out with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But seriously, individuals can work in groups, but not without some real bonding through team-building exercises. If you put this work in before the project, you’ll have less issues during its run.
- Negotiations – Almost every aspect of project management involves some degree of negotiations. From working with your team to your sponsors and certainly outside contractors and vendors, you’re constantly angling for the best deal. There’s a cottage industry around how to negotiate and it’s your responsibility to find a technique that works. The better you can negotiate a contract, say, the more likely you are to stick to the planned budget.
- Task Management – This one is obvious. It’s a critical project management skill. If you can’t get the tasks done, the project fails. It’s that simple. But managing tasks can be more complex. There’s thankfully great tools at your disposal to help you assign and track the progress of those tasks throughout the project’s life cycle. You can even have many of these tasks automated, such as email notifications when a deadline is fast approach, to further streamline the process.
- Organization – A manager is someone expert in organization. When you’re working on a project there are so many balls in the air that it’s easy to lose track of one or two. There’s resources, money, time all competing for your attention. It’s more than you can keep in your head without going mad, so you need to have organizational techniques and tools handy to keep all those balls falling where they’re supposed to.
The Characteristics of a Good Manager
Having successful managerial skills is a good start, but there’s more to good management. You must keep your tasks on track, support, guide and direct your team, knowing their strengths and keeping them together as a cohesive group, but there are soft skills, too. Here are 10.
- Inspiration – A good manager is a good leader. A good leader is going to inspire their team to work hard by making them feel heard and respected.
- Believe in Yourself and Your Team – Part of being a good manager is believing that you are, and believing your team will do what they need to do, without micromanaging them. That doesn’t mean being arrogant, and you should hold doubt in your hand, but not let it cripple you.
- Encouragement – Sometimes you need it, sometimes your team does, a cheerleader, someone to give them that pep talk so they can pull from where they didn’t believe there was anything left and accomplish what musts be accomplished.
- Confident – Again, you don’t want to get cocky, but being confident goes a long way to being a good manager. No body wants a manager who is unsure or fearful. You’re leading from the top down, and you need to set the right tone.
- Honest – All the above is based on honesty. If you’re pretending your team will know. Being transparent is going to get you a loyal team that will go the extra-mile for you.
- Reliable – You want to depend on your team, and they need you to be dependable for them. If you’re not reliable, then you’re going to lose the focus of your team, probably lose the team too, through attrition.
- Relatable – While you are the manager, the leader of the project, you better not act aloof. Get down in the trenches with your team. Know who they are as people, and let them know you. Find that common ground on which to connect.
- Follow-up – All these skills and characteristics are great, but if you don’t follow-up on them, then you’re just giving the process lip-service. You team will be able to tell.
- Follow-through – This is the flipside to follow-up. If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If not, you’re eroding trust and eventually your project will unravel.
- Decisive – A good manager isn’t wishy-washy. It’s hard to decide, of course, and you want to do the due diligence before you act, but once you do be firm.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and you’ll never, no matter how long you work in management, get to the bottom of it. Why would you want to? The discovery and the constantly learning and betterment of your skill set is that intangible which makes for a good manager.
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How to Be a Good Manager Video
Watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, to learn the qualities of effective management.
Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!
Today, we’re talking about how to be a good manager. I would dare say if the people I know who’ve moved into the manager role have always asked the question, “How do I become a good one?”
And if I look back over my own career, I have my own good manager hall of fame. Those managers that I think who have inspired me, encouraged me and helped me along my career path.
So, when people ask me about it, that’s what I reference. So, there’s some misconceptions I believe that I see around. Sometimes, I see people compare managers and leaders. And they position managers to be the bad thing.
So the truth is, there are some bad managers, but there are some good ones too. And if you think about it, many successful athletes, entertainers, business people, artists, leaders who I admire most, all have good managers.
That’s how they, in part, become so successful. They are the gatekeepers who help them manage their time, their money, their effort. They negotiate contracts and deals for them. And they also help them get to where they need to be.
So, when you consider the manager role, here’s some questions that people often ask. How can I be a good manager? How can I be the best manager I can be? What are the management skills I need? And how do I even know if I’m being effective?
So let’s break this down and take a look at some of these? So I believe to go from a manager to a good manager, there is some growth that happens, that needs to occur. Some transformation that’s natural. Gaining new skills and developing new behaviors. It all happens over time, and it does take time. It just doesn’t happen overnight with a switch of a title.
So let’s look at some management skills you need. First of all, time-management. There’s so much going on as manager, so many different things you’re responsible for, and people, and issues. It’s very important to be able to manage your time effectively. Which, also can either positively or negatively impact those reporting to you.
Also, communication, being able to clearly communicate a message effectively to different people so they understand it. Also, conflict resolution. Anytime there’s more than one person, which there typically always is, there are different ideas, different perceptions, different approaches. Which, most times generates conflict. So being able to resolve that conflict quickly and effectively. Also, team-building.
Again, when there’s more than one or a couple people in the group. You know, building the team instead of having different people just reporting to you, building a cohesive team is very powerful. There’s a lot of synergy that you can get from an actual team.
Also, negotiations. As a manager, manager’s can negotiate pay. They can negotiate benefits. They can negotiate time, all kinds of things. They can negotiate projects for you. So, it’s important to be able to negotiate things on behalf of yourself as the manager, but also the people reporting to you.
And also, task management. Being able to follow-up and follow-through so that things can get done. And organization, again, there’s so many things that are going to be happening at the same time. Being able to be organized in the approach, and how you do your work.
Again, there are many more, but these are just to name of few of the important ones. Also, there’s some qualities. These are not all the qualities, but some of the ones I think I hear commonly mentioned when people talk about their own good manager hall of fame. These are some of the qualities that the people have.
Number one, being able to inspire people who are going to be reporting to you. Showing them that they believe in you. And also, encourage, and their also confident, honest, reliable. Again, back to being able to connect with people. Being able to relate the follow-up, follow-through, and being very decisive.
Again, I look at it in three categories. They handle tasks. They handle people, and they also handle team. They keep things on track. They support, guide, and direct the people on their team, and by guiding them on their strengths. And also, keeping the team cohesive.
If you need a tool and resources, to help you with your management skills, and help you get on the good manager hall of fame. Then, sign up for our software now, at ProjectManager.com.