Throughout my career, I’ve had many bad managers. All of them made me hate my job so much that I had to look for employment elsewhere.
It took me so long to meet a good manager that I started to think that being terrible at managing people and projects was just what leaders do.
Fortunately, over time I would work with some truly amazing leaders who would help me along in my career and eventually would mentor me to becoming a good leader myself.
So let’s take a look at 7 things good leaders do differently to help their staff be motivated, productive, and happy in the workplace.
1. No Micromanagement
The point of hiring a team of people is to get people to work together using their strengths to accomplish a common goal. The leader’s task is to keep the team focused and heading in the right direction.
I’ve seen managers try to run the whole show and tell others how they should be doing their job. I have seen a manager micromanage programmers on how to code an application in a way that would make no sense to do so. And this was made worse by the fact the manager had no coding experience.
This created friction between the entire team and the atmosphere in the workplace was terrible. Needless to say, the turnover of staff was high because people couldn’t deal with that style of management.
2. Not Being Controlling
Usually, leaders that want to control every single step of the process end up creating bottlenecks in the system because work is often brought to a standstill when management is constantly needed to sign off on everything.
One development shop that I worked at many years ago had a manager like this. Junior programmers would be given a task and then had to wait before proceeding with a new task This may work in some situations. But in that environment, it would constantly cause projects to overrun.
The whole development process would stop daily when the manager wasn’t available. This would mean the junior developers would be sitting around sometimes for hours without nothing to do.
The company employed many quality assurance testers too, so in this instance, it may have been worth letting the junior developer work on larger sections of code and then have the quality testers look through the code at different intervals.
A good leader needs to trust their team, and then provide guidance if and when something goes wrong.
3. Don’t Play Favorites
I’ve personally experienced this one. It made the working environment very awkward for me and others. In one of the web development studios I worked at, the manager would always put me on the best projects because he knew I was a good worker and would get the job done on time.
You may be thinking there is nothing wrong with that. And surely a good manager should put their best people on the jobs. But this doesn’t help other team members to grow. And they will feel left out of the team dynamic.
I loved working on the best projects and got along well with the manager. But looking back, I can see this caused friction in the office with the other developers. And it caused the team morale to go down.
A good leader should spread projects between team members. And if certain team members lack the skills of others, they should be brought up to that level or the leaders add a buffer to each project so that other staff members can tackle the job at a slower pace. Doing so will allow all members of the team to have a fair chance. It will also keep morale high and benefit the company in the long run.
4. Don’t Take Credit for Other People’s Work
Ever had a manager that would throw their team under the bus at every opportunity and would bask in the glory any time praise was given out? I have.
A good leader should accept the failure of the team when the time comes and praise members of the team at appropriate times too. Wins and losses should be shared as a team. Having a leader that understands this is a great way of keeping the team motivated.
5. Don’t Set Impossible Deadlines
Sometimes, the quicker projects can be completed, the more money a business can make. But if you have ever worked for a leader that sets impossible deadlines, it only creates frustration and stress.
Good leaders don’t have to get their deadlines 100% of the time. Understandably, things overrun and people sometimes stay behind to get the job done on time. But when most projects turn out like this, you know realistic targets are not being set. This demotivates the entire team.
One of the team members I worked with at an IT company had a terrible manager that would always set him impossible deadlines. The unrealistic deadlines meant he would have to stay behind and work extra hours without pay a few times a week. You could see the effect it had on his body. Throughout a 12-week project, this team member actually ended up losing his hair and was off sick for a few months.
The next time you set an impossible deadline for your staff members, think of how you would be affecting their time and health.
6. Good Leaders Don’t Hate Their Job
The best leaders I worked for loved their jobs and would do them even if the pay wasn’t as good. They have passion for their work and will do what they can to get the team moving in the right direction.
If you’re a leader of a company, this is the type of person you need to be. And if you’re an employee starting their career, this is the type of person you would want to work for.
Some great leaders I worked for pushed me so much that it kept me motivated at work, and made me want to learn new skills. This has benefited my career tremendously.
Don’t Hire and Promote the Wrong People
Hard-working employees want to work for hard-working leaders. But when the wrong person is promoted to management level, it is a massive insult and demotivates your team.
Over the years, I have seen many great hardworking employees leave a company because of the wrong leaders being put into place.
A good leader should recognize productive workers and reward them with promotions when the time comes. Otherwise, you are creating a company culture that’s going to ruin the business in the long term.
Bad leaders can make the best of jobs unworkable and employees miserable and unmotivated. If you feel that you’re guilty of any of the above, it’s time for a change as you could be driving good people out of your organization.
What Do Good Managers Do Differently?
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