Being a manager these days is no easy task. But it is a critical function. According to a recent Gallup survey, 70% of a team’s engagement depends on the manager. And employees who are engaged are more likely to stay with the organization—reducing overall turnover and the costs associated with it. Yet employee retention is a major challenge, with employers seeing record turnover rates as the economy rebounds from the pandemic. That’s why honing your management skills can go a long way in helping to attract, hire and retain top talent.
It’s not surprising that many managers are struggling. Maybe you found yourself thrust into a leadership role because you’ve proven yourself as an individual contributor, despite having no formal management training. Or perhaps you’re an entrepreneur who realizes that you need to scale your business. And to do that, you need to recruit and manage talented employees.
Whatever your situation, let’s look at five ways you can become a better manager.
Create a shared vision
Research by Google suggests that one of the top behaviors of great managers is having a clear vision and strategy for their teams. Setting attainable goals allows your employees to be more productive. Prioritizing work will also help ensure projects stay on track. And when you create a shared vision with buy-in from the team, employee motivation increases. By tying your team’s contributions to larger organizational goals, you will be more likely to improve performance and retain top talent.
Improve your communication skills
Employees want frequent, honest and constructive feedback. Don’t wait for the annual performance review to discuss your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead, establish ongoing formal and informal interactions with your team to understand what they are working on. That way, you can stay in the loop and offer support as needed. Give them ideas on improving their work and growing in their role. Become a better manager by also soliciting feedback from your team. By regularly taking the time to check-in, you will make your employees feel like valued team members.
Conduct regular status updates
It’s not enough to measure progress towards your department’s goals. To become a better manager, you must also deliver regular updates to your team. Performance reviews provide transparency so that everyone understands how the company is tracking towards shared goals. That way, if your team is not on track to hit your targets, you have an opportunity to course-correct.
Learn how to motivate your team
A higher salary or bigger bonuses aren’t always the best way to motivate employees. According to research at Harvard Business School (HBS), more than 80% of American employees say they do not feel recognized or rewarded, even though U.S. companies spend more than a fifth of their budgets on wages. What employees want even more is to feel appreciated. Examples of “soft benefits” to motivate your team include flexible work options, skills training, and generous family leave. You can even create a peer-to-peer recognition program that allows employees to recognize co-workers for a job well done. Or sometimes, a simple “thank you” is all that is needed.
As a manager, it’s your job to delegate projects to team members that capitalize on their abilities. “One of the leadership challenges is to set direction, to set that aspiration, and to recognize that you don’t have the answers yourself,” says HBS Professor Amy Edmondson. “You have to empower and delegate to others the actual work of figuring out how to get things done and getting them done, and then they can come back to you and ask for help.” Trust your team and resist the urge to insert yourself in every aspect of a project. By delegating tasks to the right people, you will become a better manager while developing a more efficient work model.
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, “leadership development boosts employee engagement, increases the organization’s ability to deal with gaps in the talent pipeline, and reduces the headaches and costs associated with turnover.” Of course, becoming a better manager doesn’t happen overnight. But over time, you will create stronger work relationships, increase employee retention and produce superior business results.