Management, more specifically, how to become a better manager is a broad yet oft-written about topic. Usually, people become managers because they were skilled in their field and the logical next step was to be promoted to manage the team they may have been part of; however, management is a learned skill that is usually not taught. Most companies do not send their managers on training courses to improve, so if you're yet to get specific training on how to be a better manager, here is how you could become a better manager before spring.
Get to know your employees
You may be managing a new team or you may manage a team you knew before you were promoted. Either way, it's important to get to know those who work for you. Understand their career goals as well as a little bit about their personal life. Remember their daughter’s birthday or that their nephew was sick last week and ask about them or congratulate them when their husband or wife landed that big promotion. You want to show that you have a vested interest in their success in and out of work. Plus, you will want to help them reach their goals, which you can't do if you don't know anything about them. Seeing each other on a more personal level will create a close-knit and motivating environment.
Learn to delegate
If you're lucky enough to have built your team (or even if you haven't), your employees are there because they excel at their role. As a manager, you cannot do every job required in your team, so you must learn to delegate and trust your team. Your team members will thank you for a little more hands-off approach. Some people want more step-by-step instructions and others want more autonomy; once you've gotten to know your team better, you will figure out what motivates each individual. But if you don't delegate tasks to skilled people, you'll lose your mind trying to do it all.
Be a clear communicator
Leaving employees 'in the dark' can have negative consequences. Often managers act as a liaison between senior leadership and the employees. Keep them in the loop especially with changes that may impact them. On the day to day level, clear, open, and honest communication will be the most effective. If you model clear communication, you'll get clear communication in return. Clear communication also means you can communicate your vision. Your team cannot perform effectively if they do not know what you want.
Listen to your team
Clear communication is a two-way street. If your team come to you with ideas or concerns, never be dismissive. Your team need to know they can come to you. If you don't have an answer right away, it's okay to say that you'll think about it and get back to them. Be sure to listen, acknowledge, and follow up. If your team never challenges you, never approaches you, and never speaks up, that's a sign they may not be comfortable addressing you not that you're doing a brilliant job and they have no concerns!
Understand the difference between management and leadership
Management is the day to day planning and coordination whereas leadership is executing and inspiring a vision. You will want to know when you need to manage and when you need to lead. If you want to know more about why managers aren't always great leaders (and why that's okay), you can read our article on management vs leadership. Understanding whether you're a natural leader or manager and which skills you need to improve could be your key to being a better manager.
Acknowledge your team's successes
There's nothing worse than a manager who always criticises and never praises. Many people work well when they are praised. You must acknowledge your team's success when they put in the work and not simply take credit for it yourself. The worst kind of manager blames their team for failures but takes all the credit for their successes. It will make you an excellent manager if you publicly and privately recognise your team's efforts.
Create a positive work environment
We spend one-third of our lives at work with our co-workers, so the atmosphere should be a positive one. The manager is often in control of creating that positive work environment. Work can still be professional yet fun. Your employees can maybe be allowed to personalise their desks. You may bring in treats or encourage breaks throughout the day.
Another way to create a positive work environment is to show that you care and are interested in your employees. You can create opportunities for personal and professional development or you can ask the company to support you with company perks.
Analyse your shortcomings
The best managers understand self-reflection and use their strengths to their advantage. A great manager also understands where s/he needs to improve and takes an active interest in developing and changing. If you expect your employees to self-reflect and improve their performance, you should expect the same of yourself.
Discover your management style
There is no perfect manager but those who are best at managing understand their management style. However, just because you may fall into one particular style or another, doesn't mean that is the best style to suit your employees. You have to be the kind of manager that gets the best of your team, which means you may have to change your management style depending on the situation and/or team member.
Take a management and leadership course
Finally, the best way to improve your management skills is to learn the theory behind being a great manager. Not only is taking a managing and leadership course a great way to add professional development but you will also benefit both your company and your employees in the long run. There's no secret to being a better manager; there are tried and tested theories on how to do it. Just as you would expect a heart surgeon to have specific training on how to operate on the heart (and not, say, the gallbladder!), you'd expect a manager to know how to manage via specific training.
The fact that you've acknowledged that you need to become a better manager by spring (or whenever your deadline), means you're already on your way to becoming a better manager. Specific training can help you to become an excellent, visionary manager and leader for your company, and, importantly, for your team.