A manager is in charge of developing their team members. They’re co-creating individual action plans for each of the team members. The plans are uniquely designed to help develop every single team member according to their strengths.
But the success of the team members can rarely surpass the quality of the manager. So every team leader needs first to develop themselves to create space for their team members to grow.
Let’s look at how managers can achieve that growth through creating self-development objectives. But first, we’re starting with defining what it even means to become a better manager.
What it means to become a better manager
Becoming a better manager isn’t easy because it requires growth on 2 fronts at the same time — becoming a better individual (leader) through personal growth and becoming a more effective organizer through professional growth.
A better manager is someone who invests both in developing soft and leadership skills that will help them be more emotionally intelligent, but also someone who develops their technical and organizing skills. You need both if you want to grow as a manager.
The technical skills are easier to measure; if you want to improve your technical knowledge of the programming language Python, you simply go through a course in Python and solve tests. The technical skills are easy to measure.
The soft and leadership skills are harder to measure; in fact, we use secondary metrics to see that kind of growth. You can’t directly measure leadership skills or emotional intelligence, but you can measure the impact of that growth.
You see it in the retention rate of the team, in the team’s achievement of goals and objectives, in their satisfaction reports, and in their ambition and desire to grow with the organization.
If you truly want to become a better manager, you need to embrace the growth on both of these fronts. Here are 7 ways you can do that.
Which self-development objectives are necessary to become a better manager?
There are multiple ways you can become a better manager but the following 7 ways provide the most significant impact.
1. Have integrity
A great manager will walk the talk. You need to practice integrity because that’s not something people are just born with; it’s a skill people need to learn. What integrity does is that it provides a backbone for the team — everyone knows what they can expect from you since you only say what you can deliver.
To practice integrity, you shouldn’t talk about grandiose plans, but let your team members know what you will accomplish in a specific time period and then follow through.
2. Lead by example
Integrity leads us to leading by example. There’s no bigger leadership skill than showing your people how it’s done by doing it yourself first. People won’t emulate what you say, but they will for sure emulate what you do.
So if you don’t show an example of how they need to operate, think, and act, the team members won’t follow it. A great manager will know that they need to show others how it’s done and they will provide an example of it. When asking your team members to complete a task in a specific time frame, you need to show them that it’s possible to do so.
In the latest Tom Cruise movie, Top Gun: Maverick, he needed a team of pilots to do a course in under 2 minutes and 30 seconds. For them, it seemed impossible until Tom Cruise’s character did the course himself and showed that it was possible.
Then, they started to believe that it could be done. You don’t need to be Tom Cruise, but you need to show your team that it can be done.
3. Build industry knowledge
Leading by example brings us to knowing how to lead by example. And that means having the industry knowledge to know what you’re talking about.
You don’t need to have expertise in everything your team members do, but you need to know enough to be able to make informed decisions.
If you’re a project manager in an IT company that doesn’t know how to write code and you find yourself leading a team of developers, you will have a hard time leading them. You won’t know the ins and outs of the way things work so you won’t be able to discern if the objectives are pushing the developers to grow or if they’re just impossible to do.
You don’t need to have expertise in everything your team members do, but you need to know enough to be able to make informed decisions. That’s why presidents have advisors; they’re the people who are experts in their fields and they inform the presidents about the possible courses of action.
So if you lack industry knowledge, it’s time for you to start learning.
4. Aspire to give and receive feedback
A team’s success depends heavily on the amount of honesty and trust between team members and the manager. So as a manager, you should aspire to create that honesty and trust in the team.
The best way to do so is to create a culture of feedback in your team. That means that everyone should have the liberty to give feedback to each other, but also be open to receiving feedback. It’s a 2-way street where you give feedback to each other so that you can grow from the challenges.
On top of that, as a manager, you want honest feedback from your team members because that’s how you understand where the team’s at when it comes to meeting objectives and goals.
Practice receiving and giving feedback and encourage your team members to do so as well. Remember, you also need to receive feedback from your team members because that’s how you lead by example and inspire trust.
5. Hear and listen to people
If you want to grow as a manager, you will need to learn how to rely on others. That means that you should enable your team members so that they can succeed and the best way to do that is to hear and listen to your people.
Most managers think hearing and listening are the same things; they’re not.
Hearing is about receiving information from your team members and this is what most managers do. But the best managers out there also listen to their people.
Listening is about acting upon that information. It won’t always be to the satisfaction of the team member because sometimes, there’s nothing you can do about a problem. But you will show to the team members that their problem was both heard and acted upon.
6. Delegate with trust in mind
If you want to grow as a manager, you need to learn how to trust people first. Delegation is a technical skill that has its root in trust. You delegate a task to someone because you trust that the person will do the task. If there’s no trust, there’s no real delegation.
So the first thing you need to practice is trusting your team members. Once you have their trust, you can delegate tasks to them according to their strengths. This way, you won’t have to micromanage them because you will have trust in them.
7. Motivate through coaching
In case the team members have problems with their delegated tasks, they will come to you with feedback (because they will trust you). Then, you will motivate them to do the task through coaching and mentoring. Sometimes, the team members won’t see how they can do the task and they will require a nudge from the manager to the right path.
Your job won’t be to give big speeches like in the movies, but you nudge the team members to look at the problem from a different angle or to try a different approach to the problem.
What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve
Answer to see the results
Simplify benefits administration
Improve our virtual onboarding experience
Automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks
Becoming a better manager takes time, but it will be worth it
Becoming a better manager won’t be an overnight thing; it will take time. But don’t quit on it because it will make all the difference to your team members to have a better manager and a better leader at the helm.
If you’d like more information on how to become a better manager, check out this post: Developing Leaders: How to Help Employees Transition to Management.