Martin Etchegaray is a Sr. Content Writer and Editor at Integromat. He enjoys writing and reading about history, science, and tech.
What makes a good manager? 🤔
If you ask around, chances are you will get some of the following responses over and again:
- Leadership skills
- Ability to listen and communicate
- Aptitude to motivate
Most of these traits gained recognition in the postwar era, back when modern management practices were developed by the likes of Peter Drucker, Russel Ackoff, and George Odiorne.
The names might sound dusty, but many of the concepts they came up with remain impressively relevant, including:
- SMART goals
- Management by objectives
- Customer satisfaction
The times, however, have not been kind to every management practice from yore.
In light of the remarkable shifts we are experiencing at the society, culture, and work levels, legacy management practices are less likely to cut it in the years to come.
So, what makes a good manager these days?
In this article, we will highlight five qualities managers need to shine in 2022, and most importantly, to make their teams shine.
1. Cultural Awareness
The modern workplace is incredibly diverse in terms of skills, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, education level, and other demographic markers.
For managers, this translates into working with team members who were born into different cultures, languages, and worldviews, which can lead to all sorts of culture clashes.
Imagine that you forget about a teammate’s religious holiday, and react when you learn about it.
This is not something you can brush off like nothing happened, is it?
Up until recently, most managers took a practical approach to diversity in the workplace: Focusing on the business. For a number of reasons, this is no longer the best approach.
Nowadays, it is recommended to:
- Prioritize inclusion
- Set preconceptions aside
- Keep an open mind
- Show interest when in doubt
In some cases, diversity courses might be required, as the quality of being culturally aware is not always easy to come by.
2. Knowledge of Remote Work Best Practices
Like it or not, remote work and globally distributed workforces are here to stay, along with new challenges managers need to address.
In order to lead a remote workforce, managers have to:
- Master asynchronous work schemes
- Use the right tools to track and oversee tasks and projects
- Adjust their communications to make sure that employees are doing well
It’s not rare to see managers who are completely new to remote work fall prey to micromanagement, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
This happens because the physical workplace is filled with cues that help fill multiple communication gaps.
As you can imagine, such cues are absent in remote work environments, impacting the sense of control some managers grew used to while operating in the traditional workspace.
The solution, however, is fairly simple: Master the best tools for remote work, adjust your communication standards, and wave the 9 to 5 bye-bye. 👋
Also, don’t forget to be patient and transparent with those employees who are new to remote as well. If it’s not easy for a manager, it might not be easy for the team members either.
This will set you on course for succeeding at remote management.
3. Ability to Learn on the Run
Present-day teams need state-of-the-art technologies, tools, and methods to thrive.
At the managerial level, this means two things.
First, managers need to be able to identify and evaluate these tools and methods.
Second, they have to be capable of learning the ins and outs in order to be sure that their teams will make the most of them.
As software continues to eat the world, missing out on exciting new technologies is nothing but wasting opportunities.
To avoid that from happening, a relentless spirit of curiosity plus the ability to learn new things on the run will be your allies.
4. Sensitivity for Mental Health
There is an ancient management paradigm saying that a team is only as good as its leader.
Unfortunately, this is not (entirely) true.
Good leaders are certainly important, but so are healthy employees. To make sure your team members are happy and healthy, you have to check in on them from time to time.
Doing this is particularly relevant in remote work environments, as many of the signs that help identify mental health issues are difficult to perceive over a phone call, or through a Slack exchange.
Needless to say, you don’t have to sit and discuss potential mental health issues directly, as many employees aren’t exactly willing to talk about these with their managers.
There are more subtle and effective ways to check in your employees, such as the use of anonymous online forms, or the analysis of work-related data that refers to communications and productivity.
Learning how to proceed in cases where one of your colleagues is suffering is also important. It will help you act on time, and prevent the situation from escalating into something worse.
5. Thinking Beyond Money
Everyone needs money, we get it.
But money is not everything, and this is something new (and not so new) generations thoroughly understand.
Old-school management practices relied on money as a catch-all solution to address employee demands. Doing the same today can send the wrong message, as people today value other things more than money.
We are living in the era of work-life balance, which means that on occasion, employees will assign more value to say family time than money in the pocket.
Even though this is a cultural sign of the times, it often means that people only wish for options that go beyond money.
As with other work environment aspects, it’s no longer safe to assume anything. Asking is safer and can go a long way! 😉
This is not an exhaustive list of managerial qualities, but one that highlights which ones are important to develop these days.
A great manager still needs to be able to make sound decisions, wield power, and balance the different skills and personalities found in most teams.
It’s essential to strive for personal and professional growth when developing these qualities as well. They can act as a stepping stone for something better!
Hopefully, you will be able to translate these traits into better results, happier teams, and work that you are proud of.
The times might have changed, but the decision to become a better manager is still yours – in full and traditional managerial style, after all.
Time to skill up, friends! 🙌
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