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5 ways to become a better manager

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Good management

Head shot of author, Petra WiltonGood management and leadership is about creating conditions that allows others to succeed.

As managers, we are in a privileged position to develop others, and a great manager brings out the best in other people.

There is huge range of skills a good manager has to be able use, including:

  • setting goals and planning how to achieve them
  • developing and motivating others
  • co-ordinating and evaluating activities
  • celebrating results whilst learning for the future.

Sounds simple enough.  But when we asked people to rate their managers the national results were dismal, with 43 per cent rating their manager as ineffective or highly ineffective.  But do we know what needs to be done differently?

A commission set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management and the Chartered Management Institute tried to answer this question.

This commission with experienced leaders from across business, the private sector and academia spent several months interviewing the leading lights of management. They tried to find out what ‘great’ management and leadership looks like in business and the public sector, and talked to the likes of Unilever’s Paul Polman, John Lewis’s Charlie Mayfield and Thomas Cook’s Harriet Green.

In the end, the results in its final report Management 2020 were strikingly similar, and simple, focussing on an organisation’s ability to do 3 things well:

  1. being clear on its purpose
  2. valuing its people through developing managers and leaders at all levels
  3. investing in the developing the potential of the next generation of leadership

Right now is a great time for reflection and focusing on skills.  It’s back to school for many and as managers we should never stop learning ourselves.  So as a manager what should you be doing?

Before you can focus on your team, you need to get your own skills in order, and then you’ll be far better placed to develop others.  Here are my top 5 takeaways for autumn:

1. Take time for yourself

You can’t be a great manager unless you can manage yourself, so take advantage of the qualifications offered through Civil Service Learning, and take a look at the Manager as Developer resources we've developed online. Nine out of 10 managers said getting a management qualification improved their performance, and 8 out of 10 said it also improved the performance of their team.

If you’re already qualified, why not consider becoming a Chartered Manager? They are a hallmark of a professional manager and show your commitment to continual learning.

2. Take time to share your purpose

Leaders at all levels should take responsibility for the morale and sense of purpose of each person reporting to them. Motivation isn't just about power and money, often people respond more to a sense of progress and achievement.

3. Take time for your people and try developing a coaching style that is collaborative, open and fair.

Review and reward behaviours, not just performance. Look at how you can proactively support the career development of your team.  Seek sponsors from other departments, or secondment opportunities to widen their horizons.

4. Take time to develop potential.

Be a role model, be authentic and look for opportunities to mentor others.  Give particular support to new managers.

5. And take time to be positive.

Researchers measured the number of positive statements made by a team, such as ‘that’s a good idea’ or ‘yes, let’s try that’, versus the number of negative statements like ‘we’ve tried that before and it failed’ or ‘that’s not what I was looking for’.  Teams who achieve a ratio of over 5 positives statements to each negative are far more likely to be highly performing.  So spend a day counting your positives and negatives, it’s much harder than you’d think!

I hope you find these brief reflections helpful, and would welcome your comments.

Further links
Manager as developer online resources

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  1. Comment by Bruce, DWP posted on

    I'm keen to gain managerial experience within the Civil Service and I found this blog to be open, concise and balanced. Thanks, Petra.

  2. Comment by John posted on

    the links to "Manager as Developer resources we’ve developed online" & "Manager as developer online resources" don't work - can you install the correct links?