How to Be the Kind of Manager You Wish You Had
Just got promoted and you're suddenly in charge of people and it's terrifying? We know it seems like you can barely take care of yourself, but you got this. It’s time to make your employees love you and to collect figurative gold-star stickers from your bosses. Where to start? How about with seasoned managers who've been dealing with bogus employee sick days for years? Here's what they had to say.
Watch your tone
“Talk to your employees as your peers. You don't want to talk to them as if they are beneath you,” says Kevin Adkins, who manages eight employees at Kenmore Law Group, a personal injury and employment law firm in Los Angeles. Ordering them to do things is fine ("Send this fax! What do you mean 'what's a fax?'"), but it's all about your tone. “I know a lot of bosses who speak in a condescending way and that's the perfect recipe for unhappy employees.”
Tell employees when you beef it
Miss a deadline? Spend all day working on a 10-FR report only to realize your boss asked you do the 29-BT report? Whoopsies. Tell your employees, says Frank Constantino, a senior leader with a medical device company. “I find sharing my mistakes can be beneficial. We all make them and it shows authenticity when we own up to them.”
Follow them on social media
Just don’t stalk or be too judge-y. Sure, some super corporate offices might have policies against this, but if the culture feels right, then go for it. Menaka Shroff of BetterWorks, a software company, says, “It’s made me acutely aware of the importance of work-life integration, and makes it much easier to remain flexible when they need to attend a family event, or need to take personal time off work.”
Help your employees to not suck
It’s your employee’s job to do a good job -- and it’s your job to help them. Someone at Janice Omadeke’s team at a Fortune 500 company was scared to speak up when given unrealistic deadlines. The employee was worried about coming across as too aggressive and afraid about being taken off projects, she says. “There’s no time or room for doormats, so after listening to the concerns, I was able to provide some advice on how to say no within their limits.”
Don’t expect your employees to stay forever
“As a manager, you should not focus on keeping employees,” says Jodie Shaw of The Alternative Board, a business coaching company. “Your role should be focused on helping your team members grow to their fullest potential.” This might mean they outgrow your department or company. But if they feel personally invested and you've helped them grow from a young marketing padawan to a full integrated branding Jedi, they might actually do a better job and stay in your service for longer.
Do damage control if you party a little too hard
Every expert we spoke to for this story said it’s totally fine to attend a post-work happy hour (some even suggested you pay for the first round of drinks -- sorry). Obviously, the goal shouldn’t be to over do it, but let’s be honest, it does happen. What you do the next day is crucial: apologize, says Cynthia D. Marco-Scanlon, Ph.D., president of the National Career Development Association. “You can make a joke about it to your peers and the people who report to you, saying ‘that was an example of what you shouldn’t do!’” Just be more serious -- and sincere -- to your bosses, if they were there too.
Don’t use the BCC function
“Only use the BCC if it’s absolutely necessary,” says Marco-Scanlon. “It’s such a secretive, manipulative behind-the-scenes kind of thing.” And, if you need to add someone to a chain, make sure you announce it to the rest of the people on the original thread.
Lay it all out there with your friends-turned-employees
It’s probably weird that you’re now the boss to some of your friends. Make it less weird! Have a chat with your new reports to lay out some ground rules and talk about how your relationship might change. You can still go to lunch together -- just don’t do it every day, because that could make it awkward for other people. “You want to look at how your friendship with your employee will impact his relationship with others in the office,” says Marco-Scanlon.
Don’t throw anyone under the bus
“Blaming other people destroys relationships, it takes the other person down so many notches, especially in terms of trust and respect,” says Marco-Scanlon. Don’t be so quick to point fingers and, instead, work with your staff to problem-solve.
Be nice -- and fun
Being a good manager is about being friendly, approachable and positive, but also being constructive and helping them grow, says Erin Bury, who manages 10 employees at marketing agency, 88 Creative. “And, of course, instituting policies like half-day Fridays in the summer help." Like with a lot of things, being a good manager is all about balance. If you can maintain a spirit of fun as well as projecting a seriousness that gets 'ish done, you'll look great to those above and below.