The role of a manager is often misunderstood, with conflicting myths rife concerning what makes a good manager.
Challenge your perception of these common myths and you could be more effective in your role. Simply going along with what you believe to be true about management might just be standing in your way.
There’s a Single Strategy to Being a Good Manager
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that there’s a single way to be a good manager. We’re bombarded with this message from management books, blogs and podcasts. These resources can promise to turn you into a good manager with just one simple trick or methodology.
However, a good manager should be flexible in their approach, rather than sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach.
Being flexible and responsive will garner you more respect from your direct reports than rigidly applying a management strategy. You’ll also learn more about your direct reports and what they think makes a good manager as time goes on, which you can then use to refine your management style.
Management is a fluid role, and strategies that gain results on one task or with a group of employees may not work in all situations. Be aware of this and be ready to switch up your management style as required.
Managers Should Know Everything
We’ve all come up against managers that think they know everything, but this isn’t a requirement of the role. It’s not in a manager’s best interest to believe that they know everything, as they miss out on key information from their team if they do.
Instead, you want to pull on the knowledge of others to improve your own understanding of a topic. It’s very likely that others in a team will understand facets of their roles better than a manager with more generalist knowledge.
Being able to make a final decision on a complex topic requires an understanding of all working parts of the team, not just the pieces that you’re familiar with. Be ready to solicit and discuss advice from your direct reports to get a clear view of the situation.
Feedback Should Be Limited to Annual Reviews
While annual reviews are powerful tools for managers, they shouldn’t be the only way that you communicate with employees. Outside of the annual review, you should be checking in and chatting informally to get the most from your people.
If you wait an entire year to check in with your reports, their goals may be forgotten and valuable coaching can be missed. Dedicating time to coach, both in a situation and after the fact, gives the employee valuable context about what you want to see.
It’s a lot easier to talk through a situation and the way they should change their behaviour when it’s fresh in both parties’ minds.
If you struggle to think of scenarios to illustrate your feedback when the annual review comes around, then consider delivering this in a timelier manner.
Similarly, praising an employee at the time can give them a better understanding of the recognition and allow them to replicate this behaviour right away, rather than waiting for another annual review.
Feedback Should Only Flow Downwards
As a manager, it’s essential that you give clear and comprehensive feedback to your direct reports. However, feedback should also flow upwards to you from your direct reports too. If you’re not gaining feedback from those that you manage, then you’re missing out on opportunities to improve.
Gaining candid feedback from your direct reports will highlight issues within your management techniques and give you areas to focus on.
Use anonymised feedback or another member of staff as a mediator to get feedback, as this will make employees more comfortable with the negative points they want to discuss.
Every member of staff, including managers, should be working to develop themselves through feedback, education and experience.
A High Staff Turnover Means You’re a Bad Manager
If you’ve been experiencing a high staff turnover within your team, you may be feeling disheartened about your abilities as a manager. While poor management can cause staff to leave the team, it’s not the only reason for this.
There are a number of ways to get down to the reason why staff are leaving, including exit interviews and market research.
If you know that a lot of your staff are leaving due to higher salaries, for example, then you can research the pay data available for these roles. You may come to realise that your organisation underpays for these positions, which could be leading to your high turnover rate.
Be aware that these issues may be exacerbated by poor management, but it’s always worth investigating the reason that employees are leaving fully.
A Good Worker Will Become a Good Manager
A rising star among your direct reports may naturally stand out as a great candidate to become a manager. This isn’t always the case though, as the role of a manager might not be right for them.
While they may not be in a position to become a good manager yet, you can support and coach these employees. They should be on a path to management that plays to their strengths and minimises their weaknesses.
Even with the best coaching, not every employee is cut out for a management role. You can assess this with informal management training, such as shadowing and delegating tasks.
If you feel that the employee doesn’t have an aptitude for management or acts inappropriately when in a management role, then this may give you cause to reconsider their training.
As you become more experienced with management, you’ll be able to spot behaviours that can be coached in a prospective manager and ones that are indicative of a larger problem.
Leadership and Management are the Same
While you may consider an overlap in leadership and management qualities, there are some subtle differences between these concepts. Managing your direct reports is a different process to leading them and requires different techniques to do so.
Leading a task is a different role to managing it. These can be useful skills for managers to cultivate, but they’re not the same role. According to the CIPD:
“At the heart of many interpretations, leadership is deemed to involve developing an initial vision and inspiring others with an overview of how that vision may be achieved, while management involves translating the vision into reality by guiding the actions and behaviours of a group of people on a day-to-day basis.”
Managers Should Be Extroverts
Managers do have to communicate well, sometimes in difficult situations, but this doesn’t mean that they have to be extroverts. In fact, some extroverted managers find it hard to listen or give others encouragement to put forward their ideas.
It’s not about whether a manager is naturally introverted or extroverted; it’s more important that they understand their place in communications. They can act as mediators, filters and give direction to the conversation.
Refining your communication skills is more important than whether your personality tends to be extroverted or introverted.
Employees Will Be Resistant to Change
As a manager, you may assume that your employees will always be resistant to change. While this can be true, most employees will be happy to see the workplace changing for the better. You need to become skilled at managing changes and putting forward the reasoning behind these changes.
Being nervous about change or what it means for their working life is perfectly natural, but it’s up to you to assuage these fears. You want to show that you have everything in hand, which gives employees more confidence in your leadership.
If employees perceive changes as negative or unnecessary, then this may prompt some resistance. Giving employees the perspective of why the change matters and how it will be beneficial in the long run will help you to get them on board.
You Should Be Available Around the Clock
As the manager of a team, you may feel pulled in a lot of different directions. One colleague needs coaching, another has an urgent question and your manager needs a report yesterday – sound familiar?
When these situations occur, you want to be available to everyone that needs your expertise around the clock. However, this will only lead to burnout as you find yourself unable to switch off outside of the office. This can also be damaging for your colleagues, as they don’t learn to deal with these situations without your supervision.
Take time off from your workplace responsibilities, whether this means restricting your email access outside of working hours or setting up a system for emergencies when you’re not in the office.
While you may have seen these myths in practice within good management structures, they’ll actually be holding you back in your professional development. Think seriously about the pitfalls that you fall into and work to avoid these to be an asset to your organisation.