How to be a good manager

By Jostle

6 min read

How to be a good manager
Illustration by Kevin Yu

Managing people isn’t always a walk in the park. You must be a leader and an influencer, applying hard skills, experience, and emotional intelligence to inspire your team to new heights. 

Even the best employees may not reach their full potential without a strong manager. Good managers boost morale, improve performance, and garner trust, empowering their teams to do their best work. They effectively balance individual needs with the company’s, providing guidance, insight, and support when needed while elevating workers into their roles and empowering them to reach new heights.

If all of the above sounds like a superhero story, you’re not far off. Fortunately, being a good manager isn’t all Hollywood smoke and mirrors. 

Today, we’ll discuss how to be a good manager and outline the soft skills, attributes, and aptitudes needed to become more effective. 

What skills make a good manager?

No matter what industry niche you work in, management is about people. People are a company’s most valuable asset, and managers are charged with their care and development. 

Strong communication skills

Effective communication is essential. This skill ensures your points and ideas are delivered and received as intended. 

But communication is more than just verbal exchanges. Communicating well on multiple platforms and in diverse digital formats is essential in today’s hybrid work landscape. When communicating via email, SMS, or on your company’s intranet platform, you must be acutely aware of your words and how they come across. You won’t have the advantage of visual cues or body language to support your statements, and it’s easy to be misunderstood. 

Additionally, if you’re communicating to your team on multiple platforms, there’s greater potential for missed signals. With that in mind, establishing a solid communications plan is essential. 

For example:

  • Create group discussions for internal teams.
  • Use email to communicate with outside stakeholders.
  • Set up workflows in Trello to track projects so everyone knows who’s responsible for what. 
  • Limit yourself to one method of direct messaging.
  • Prioritize regular phone check-ins to ensure remote employees are happy, engaged, and on track.

Jostle integrates all your preferred communication tools, helping you establish ground zero for all non-terrestrial exchanges. Consistency is critical!

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Empathy and emotional intelligence

Empathy and emotional intelligence are qualities all good managers possess. Empathy is the ability to see another person’s point of view, while emotional intelligence can be described as an ability to read the room and adapt to changing situations. 

Emotional awareness is so important for managers. It’s also vital to be able to cope in high-pressure situations and be the voice of reason when facing conflict. Good managers keep cool under pressure and adapt quickly and easily to change. Their responses set an example for their teams and help to keep anxiety in check. 

These two qualities help managers build positive relationships with their team, foster a supportive and inclusive work environment, and ultimately drive better results for the organization. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, empathy and emotional intelligence are no longer optional traits for managers; they are crucial skills that set great managers apart from the rest.

Clear goal-setting and expectations

Employees are the backbone of any company, and they need to know what is expected of them to perform to the best of their abilities. Managers play a significant role in this area as they are responsible for ensuring their teams understand their responsibilities. 

Without clear guidelines, employees may feel lost or unproductive. Setting clear goals and expectations increases productivity, improves communication, and builds trust between managers and employees. Additionally, clear expectations enable employees to manage their time and organize their work more effectively. Strong leadership and communication remove ambiguity and help companies thrive.

When a team leader sets clear, specific, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound objectives aligning with company and team goals, employees understand their role and feel accountable to the mission. 

For example, a software development project may set a goal of releasing a new version within three months with specific features and functionality. This goal provides a shared vision of what success looks like and helps the team break down the work into achievable tasks, assign responsibilities, and monitor deadlines. 

When goals are clear, measurable, and relevant, teams can improve their performance by maximizing their strengths, learning from challenges, and staying on track toward their objectives. In essence, goal-setting is not just a task but a mindset that enables teams to achieve remarkable results.

Ability to delegate effectively

Effective delegation is a critical attribute of all great leaders. When managers get caught up in menial tasks, their time and attention are diverted from higher-level activities for which their skills are better suited. 

New managers sometimes have trouble delegating as they have not learned to trust their teams. However, we would suggest that trust is essential. If a manager can’t trust their employees, they end up taking on too much, causing undue stress, and missing opportunities to elevate staff to their ultimate potential. 

Effective delegation means managers can ensure that essential tasks are completed on time and to a high standard without becoming overwhelmed themselves. By empowering teams through delegation, managers create a positive work culture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Whether it’s assigning a project to a specific team member or delegating administrative tasks, the benefits of delegation are clear: increased productivity, a more motivated and engaged workforce, and a stronger sense of teamwork and shared accountability.

Flexibility and adaptability

visionary leadership quality

Managers are constantly facing new and challenging situations. Flexibility and adaptability are essential traits that improve problem-solving and decision-making. Granted, these attributes don’t come naturally to all people. However, maintaining rigidity and resisting change does not serve anyone, least of all those who report to the manager. 

Change is inevitable in today’s business landscape. Consider the past few years and how rapidly and decisively situations evolved. Leaders who could adapt to the constant barrage of change took their companies to new heights. Organizations that resisted change or were not inclined to pivot were left behind. As a result, we saw a massive exodus of employees, now known as The Great Resignation

Management was perhaps the hardest put to change their ways. Proximity bias, lack of empathy for what employees were going through, and holding onto old ways of doing things stalled productivity, fueled burnout, and caused many valuable employees to disengage or quit altogether. 

Flexibility allows managers to embrace change, think creatively, and develop innovative solutions when the unexpected arises. Flexible and adaptable managers can easily adjust to the changing demands of their team, customers, or company goals. Open-mindedness allows managers to evaluate different perspectives and ideas, consider input from their team, and make better-informed decisions. 

Final thoughts

Wrapping up, we’ve established that being a good manager is a multi-faceted and ongoing effort. Clear and consistent communication, empathy and emotional intelligence, clear goal-setting, the ability to delegate, and adaptability are essential attributes that all great leaders share. 

While you may not yet consider yourself a “great leader,” the tips we’ve shared today will serve you well no matter where your career leads you. Wherever you are in your management journey, you’ll always win if you make people your priority. 


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