What makes an effective manager and how to become one

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you are an effective manager, you can maximise your team's productivity and your performance. Whatever role, organisation or industry you work in, the proper management skills directly impact company success. Good management is a skill set that all employers need, and you can develop it with time, development and practice. In this article, we look at what makes an effective manager and offer tips and stages to develop your management skills.

What makes an effective manager?

If you're new to management, you may wonder what makes an effective manager. While each manager has their style, effective managers share a common set of skills. Some you may learn through study while gaining others on the job. They include:

Decision making

Effective managers can make strong and confident decisions within their control span. They also make consistent decisions so that similar situations result in similar decisions over time. This builds confidence in stakeholders, peers and employees.

Good managers tend to have a transparent system of effective management. By applying appropriate, well-considered and consistent decision-making skills, effective managers earn the respect of their teams. Similarly, managers can display their decision-making techniques so that employees can model these approaches and behaviours to develop their skills.

People management

In most instances, a manager has responsibility for people in some capacity. Managers are responsible for cohesion in their teams and overall output. Effective managers work hard to become effective people managers. They use company processes and procedures accurately and consistently, communicate well, offer consistent feedback, create a culture of open communication, develop and train their people and celebrate success. This helps to develop a culture of team cohesion and collective performance.

Communication skills

Effective managers are confident communicators and they apply their skills to manage across all levels of the organisation, including managing upwards. They are proactive communicators and can use various techniques and approaches to facilitate valuable conversations. Crucially, the ability to listen drives these skills.

Effective managers use active listening techniques to get to the bottom of organisational issues to apply the right approach to solve these issues. They then communicate relevant decisions to stakeholders for an honest and open communication culture.

Behaviour modelling

Effective managers know that their behaviours set the tone for the rest of the team. They model positive and consistent behaviours at all levels. Examples of this could include arriving to work before their team, being organised for team meetings, encouraging two-way communication and regular feedback sessions, and remaining calm under pressure. This creates the 'shadow of the leader' and encourages others to emulate these positive behaviours.

Collective performance focus

Great managers know that their team helps drive their success. They encourage a high-performance culture and seek to model this with their commitment to succeed. Crucially, effective managers also offer ready praise and rewards for team members who perform highly. These rewards may be symbolic, but open recognition helps raise the team's motivation.

Flexibility

Effective managers know that individuals work in different ways and have different traits and preferences. These managers tailor their approach, using what they know about each individual. They actively listen to their problems and concerns, help to find solutions and provide encouragement, support and feedback.

Benefits of effective management

Effective managers are highly in demand across all industries. Employers recruit them because good managers offer bottom-line results to the organisation. For example, their skills provide these benefits:

More motivated teams

Effective managers boost motivation by providing guidance, support, encouragement and feedback to their team. When a manager supports a team and rewards achievement, individuals feel motivated to perform and experience high morale. Effective managers use a range of approaches to engage effectively with their teams and develop each team member.

Faster problem-solving

Effective managers are quick problem-solvers. A good manager can quickly identify workplace issues and apply fixes before escalating and affecting productivity. Examples of typical problems include employee disputes, disruption to processes, employee turnover or communication gaps. Most issues that teams experience can be resolved or mitigated through open communication and practical management skills.

A culture of innovation

Effective managers encourage innovation. By inspiring their team and encouraging them to be problem-solvers, managers can motivate employees to find creative and innovative solutions to problems. This innovation, which can come from all levels of an organisation, can provide a competitive advantage against other players in the market.

Enhanced communication

Good communication between employees, teams, departments and management layers is vital to the day-to-day success of a business operation. Effective managers know how to communicate at all levels proactively. They use a variety of skills and approaches to do so, and use effective listening techniques to understand issues.

Better cost management

All businesses need to manage their costs. Effective managers have the skills necessary to manage costs within their span of control. When the managers across an organisation do this collectively, the business reduces its waste, enjoys better efficiencies and innovates to use good practices in fields such as purchasing control. Good managers also embed a positive culture of cost control within their teams.

A stronger employer brand

When a business has a strong employer brand, it becomes a target for talented candidates who want to work there. Effective managers are a powerful enabler of this brand. Effective managers ensure that the business works well by creating a positive, supportive, efficient culture where training, development and communication are fundamental.

This helps build the brand and instil the values and principles that the leadership team creates. It all works to make a positive feedback loop that builds a healthy, desirable employer brand and a workplace that attracts other talented, high-performing individuals.

Better employee retention

HR professionals often say that employees don't leave a business, they leave managers. This is why the relationship between a manager and their team is crucial. If employees feel unsupported or cannot communicate openly with their manager, they may begin to feel frustrated. This has a knock-on effect on performance, and ultimately, that employee may look for a new job elsewhere. Good management helps to boost employee retention.

Related: Guide to people management: steps and skills for success

How to become a more skilled and effective manager

Continuous learning is the key to what makes an effective manager. This means investing in your own management skills and the skills of your direct reports. Everyone is different, so strive to learn about different personality types, modes of engagement and communication, motivation and relationship building routes. Models such as Myers-Briggs are helpful as you grow your understanding of different personality types.
Some steps for becoming a more effective manager are:

1. Communicate regularly, clearly and holistically

Good communicators tend to be better managers. Management roles involve delegating tasks, motivating others, building relationships and managing conflict, and these activities are far more manageable with good communication. As a strong communicator, you should be able to speak to different people in their preferred style and empower your direct reports to communicate with each other. Build robust communication methods, channels and processes and mirror the behaviours you want to see.

2. Learn to listen

Effective listening is the foundation of good communication. Listen to what your team members want and need, hear their concerns and ensure everyone in your team has a voice. This is a key management responsibility, and you can gain your team's trust and respect if you begin by listening to them and then acting on what you hear.

3. Work on your decision-making

Build your skills to make healthy decisions and use clear and consistent processes. Communicate findings clearly and make your instructions clear. Experience helps with decision-making, so it can be helpful for managers to have a mentor who can share advice and guidance.

Related: What are decision-making techniques and how do they work?

4. Trust your people

Poor managers tend to micro-manage and struggle to delegate. Effective managers are good delegators. They distribute the right tasks to the right people and use their own time carefully for management tasks. The more you build trust in your team and demonstrate confidence in your direct reports, the more you can empower your team to deliver and achieve good results.

Related: 10 effective ways to build the strength of the team

5. Set an example

Demonstrate the behaviours you want your team to model by delivering them yourself. This shows integrity and inspires trust, respect and confidence from others. Work hard, listen well, show your team that you strive on their behalf, and be a consistent, authentic leader.

6. Protect your team

Good managers and leaders share their teams' successes and absorb the failures. When mistakes happen, take responsibility for them. When the team experiences success, share it widely and give praise and recognition. A good manager protects their team, which builds respect and trust.

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