More often than not, employees require leadership provided by an effective manager.

This needs to happen in order to build and maintain the enthusiasm, motivation and productivity of a team. These are important qualities that a manager needs to take care of with each and every team member, and the group as a whole. This is the only way to deliver the best possible results for the business.

We know that managing a team is not a piece of cake. In this article, we'll have a closer look at effective management techniques. We're also listing some tips to improve your leadership skills!

What makes a good manager?

There are certain key skills and personality traits that are generally required for a successful team leader:

  • Clear communicator. Managers who know how to communicate will find it easier to motivate employees, build relationships with them, delegate tasks and solve conflicts. Strong communication is also about empowering team members to speak to one another, thus encouraging internal discussions and problem-solving.
  • Good listener. Effective communication goes both ways - a good manager needs to be able to hear their employees, not just speak to them. They need to listen the needs and concerns of each individual and the group as one. This creates an atmosphere in which everybody feels that they have a voice and that their insights and opinions will be valued.
  • Decisive. Employees look up to their manager to make difficult decisions when faced with problems that stand in the way of a team achieving its goals. Giving the group a clear direction can inspire confidence, whereas the inability to make tough choices can result in a lack of it.
  • Trusts colleagues. An effective manager should have the ability to delegate tasks appropriately. This way, they can organise their own time for administrative issues and performing other important duties. Employees who feel that they can be relied on are incentivised to work to the best of their ability and reach their potential.
  • An example to follow. Team members should look up to and respect their manager, and wish to emulate them in a professional regard. Conveying knowledge and proving skillful will earn a team leader the respect of the group, who will then always be supportive.
  • Protective. Success or failure of a team is ultimately the leader’s responsibility. The best managers will share the glory with their colleagues, but be willing to fall on their own sword when things don’t go to plan. Leading from the front, taking the fall for mistakes and stepping in when the going gets rough are all vital duties of a great team leader.

Good practices to follow

It’s still not enough to have some, or even all of the qualities that make an effective team leader and automatically experience completely hassle-free management. There are still process and tasks that have to be completed efficiently, which requires following some good practices:

  • Treat team members as individuals. Each and every project will involve a team that is comprised of different people with unique talents, strengths and weaknesses, personalities and requirements. Treating everybody the same with a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t make for an effective management strategy - sure, that one method will suit some people’s needs, but it will alienate others at the same time. Customise your approach towards motivating and encouraging each individual to fit them specifically, and build on that relationship.
  • Have a clear vision. Effective leaders define a clear strategy and motivate colleagues to adopt their vision. Once everyone is on board with these plans for the future, it is up to the manager to use their skills to delegate tasks to the most suitable individuals and motivate the team to successfully complete the project.
  • Seat goals and analyse results. It is important to understand the financial aspects of the business and to set targets for a project accordingly. Documenting progress and success against these benchmarks then allows team members to feel a sense of progress. Employees are more content and motivated if they know whether or not they are achieving their goals and exceeding expectations at work. Our best tip?  Working with towards targets and tracking performance indicators is much easier with the right project management software.
  • Make time for your employees. The key to successful management is getting the best out of every team member so that they can consistently perform at their best. If an employee needs to talk to their manager, then time needs to be put aside - as soon as possible - to have that discussion and address any problems. Other duties can be put aside for a moment in order to focus on someone who needs assistance.
  • Conduct meetings that make sense – No matter if you're running a training session or discuss some issues crucial for the business, the ability to lead effective meetings is one of the main traits of a great leader. You can find more useful tips in our blog post about meeting management.
  • On the other hand, avoid unnecessary meetings. It’s not just the manager that has a busy schedule. We all have a lot on our plates and a good team leader should be aware of that. The key is to respect other people’s time. Tools like Harmonizely make it easier to schedule meetings in an efficient way.
  • Express gratitude. An effective manager always shows appreciation to their team for a job well done. A simple “thank you” can go a long way to boosting motivation and productivity, as well as increasing loyalty. It’s even better to go one step further and provide some useful feedback on top of this too though.
  • Show transparency. Being open with employees goes hand-in-hand with setting a good example for them. Honesty helps to build trust and the relationship between a team and its manager. Sometimes it's better not to share every detail to protect the group from external pressures. Or else, there may be confidential information that is not allowed to be divulged to all staff, in which it helps to be tactfully transparent. In this case, the team will understand when and why not everything can be brought to the table.
  • Create an enjoyable workplace. It may sound obvious, but it's worth stating that people who enjoy coming to work are bound to be more productive. This doesn’t have to mean video games and ‘dress down Fridays’. Introducing some simple elements such as a break room, team lunch outings or just initiating casual and friendly conversations can make everyone happier to be there, which will help them produce their best work.

Mistakes to avoid

Now that key skills for effective management and some good practices to follow have been described, it’s useful to also point out some common mistakes that should be avoided to prevent difficulties:

  • Inconsistency. A manager should treat employees equally in terms of both reward and dealing with problems - but not in terms of personal relationship, as already mentioned. It is demotivating for other team members to see favouritism towards certain individuals. This is sure to put a strain on the working environment. Behave with a consistent and level-headed view towards all of your colleagues.
  • Withholding information. Employees who feel like they are being misled or that certain information is being kept from them are likely to become demotivated and lose trust in the manager. This will eventually undermine the employer-employee relationship to the detriment of the project and the success of the business.
  • Pointing the blame. Someone (or sometimes, several people) has to be ultimately responsible for any mistake that is made. A good manager, however, should not be quick to play the blame game and shirk from their own responsibilities. They need to be able to take the flack if something doesn’t go to plan instead of pointing the finger at others, then deal with the matter privately if an employee is underperforming. Blaming the whole team for the error of one person will also lead to demotivation and create a hostile atmosphere in the group.
  • Complacency. It's important for a manager to stay one step ahead of their employees in terms of knowledge, experience, confidence, maturity and professionalism. Leading people requires a diverse skill set, as already pointed out above, so managers should never stop striving to grow, learn and develop their character.

Key takeaways

First of all, enjoying a hassle-free approach to management requires certain personal skills and traits that have been summarised in this article. Luckily, at least to a certain degree, good management skills can be learned and honed. There also some good practices listed that will be useful to follow and some common mistakes that should be avoided in order to be a truly effective manager that leads a successful team. Last but not least, management is much smoother if you use the right tools to help you out!