Human Resources

What the Best Managers Do Differently



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We’ve all had a boss that we’ve proudly proclaimed is ‘the best boss’ we’ve ever had, but what does that really that mean? What sets the best managers apart from the rest?

The truth is, while there is no exact science in being a great manager, there is most definitely an art in earning the trust and respect of your employees and managing them successfully.

To help you stand out and be the greatest leader you can be, here are three simple tactics used by the best managers that are proven effective across every industry.




Assess Individual Skills & Talents  

When it comes to the traditional people development process, the average manager will try and identify the pitfalls in an employee’s performance and then attempt to improve on those weaknesses via employee performance plans, monthly appraisals, and so on.

What the best kind of managers do, however, is to assess each employee’s skills, talents, and strengths and feed into them accordingly. This typically means providing the necessary training, mentoring, or development opportunities that will help their employees build on their existing skills in order to thrive in their role.

See, when a manager shifts their emphasis to the areas in which an employee already has the essential knowledge and skills, they’re building on a present foundation that will empower their employees to continually improve. Not to mention, when a person knows that what they’re bringing to the table is valuable as opposed to zeroing in on where they fall short, they’ll feel more confident when tackling the areas of their role where they’re not as strong.   

This isn’t to say that a great manager shouldn’t help their employees improve specifically on their areas of weakness, it only means that focusing on how your employees are contributing to your business rather than where they aren’t will take you much further.

Give Praise When It’s Due

While employee recognition should be a given in every industry, a survey from Each Person shows that 62% of employees feel underappreciated – and thus lack recognition – by their direct manager.

That same survey revealed that when employees were asked what would make them feel more valued in the workplace, 48% of participants said a simple ‘thank you’ would suffice – making it pretty unfathomable that such a small thing is not something employees are already hearing regularly.

If an employee feels as though they aren’t getting the praise where it’s due for the hard work their putting in and the results they’re producing, they’re more likely to leave the company altogether.

To combat this and to make employees feel like they’re appreciated, the best managers implement more than just the practise of ‘thank you’ to recognise them. Further practises include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking employees for lunch or ordering lunch into the office
  • Hosting a fun competition, potluck, or party
  • Giving regular shout outs during team and department meetings
  • Acknowledging employee birthdays and work anniversaries
  • Awarding performance bonuses if there’s a budget for it
  • Encouraging colleague-to-colleague recognition

Not all employees react the same to each kind of recognition, so it’s important that managers offer praise and gratitude in a variety of ways. Yes, employees are hired to do a job and to do it well, but recognition is an incredibly powerful tool that helps keep employees feeling motivated, engaged, and satisfied in their roles.

Be Firm but Fair

While it’s often a tricky line to walk, mastering the ability to be firm but fair in your management approach will make you the best and most respected manager that you can be.

The first step leaders take in creating this balance is setting clear expectations with their employees. You can’t be hard on people who aren’t given the proper guidelines to begin with, right? So, outlining and clearly defining individual job roles, objectives, and opportunities for growth helps employees understand precisely what is expected of them and how much support they can expect in return.

Once these guidelines have been set, the key is to consistently monitor employees and pay close attention to – but not micromanage – their engagement and productivity levels. A good manager gives their employees the freedom to breathe and make their roles their own while maintaining a constant flow of open communication and feedback. If this is executed effectively, employees feel like they’re being supported every step of the way.

Another huge factor that sets a great manager aside from all the others is realising when their business or team is evolving, and recognising that their management approach might need to evolve as well. So, when employees continue to prove their value and commitment to their company, effective managers know that they can start to let down their walls a little and begin to enjoy a more personable and light-hearted working relationship with their employees.

Balancing being firm, fair, and fun strengthens team dynamics and helps to promote a cohesive – and more productive – workforce.


It’s no secret that employees naturally work the hardest for managers who show true dedication and care for their team or department.

To this end, by constantly adapting managerial approaches from an HR perspective rather than a company perspective, great managers achieve better business results in contrast with traditional people methods, ultimately making for happier employees and better working relationships.

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