Good managers are essential in the workplace. At least I think so. I have worked in a variety of companies with a variety of different managers and have encountered both good managers and absolutely terrible ones.
One of my first ever jobs was working as a Sales Assistant for a high street retailer. I worked in a team of about 20, and we were all responsible for customer service, sales and replenishing stock and tidying the shop floor. Our manager had been with the company for about 20 years so was very knowledgeable about the business and, most importantly, passionate about it. His enthusiasm for the brand and serving customers rubbed off on all of us – so much so that during my three years with the company I rarely heard anyone complain about being at work. I appreciate I am now probably looking back on my time at the company with somewhat rose-tinted glasses but I can remember it as being an easy-going job and there was always a great atmosphere at work.
The team was full of different characters – young, part-time staff (like me at the time) and older full-time employees but everyone worked well together and our manager treated everyone the same. Most quiet evenings on the shop floor were spent replenishing stock, tidying store-fronts and chatting. And although some managers would cringe at the thought of colleagues ‘chatting’ ours didn’t, in fact, he encouraged it. During quieter times at work we would all gather to work on a project and talk – which really helped members of the team get to know each other and it was also great for improving teamwork. Our manager praised members of the team when they were doing well and called them into meetings when they weren’t doing so well. There was never a ‘public shaming’ of poor performance – if you were under-performing you attended one-to-one meetings to find out why and to help you develop and improve. Sure enough, most people that attended a progress meeting came out of it feeling motivated to come to work the next day and most started to improve their performance too.
When I left the company I felt I had built transferrable skills, had strong references and I was very confident. Yet when I worked in my next role, in an administrative position for a small firm, I felt completely different. It was a shock to work under such different management. My manager’s idea of trying to motivate staff was to pick holes in their performance publicly and email them ‘notes of improvement to work on’. The working environment was always very tense, there were no staff rewards or incentives and there was no encouragement to get to know the team. Instead it was a very solitary role – you were expected to keep your head down, to work at your desk with minimal breaks and if you were seen chatting to work colleagues you were quickly told not to. Although this manager’s intentions may have been to boost productivity and to get the most out of their staff, it had the opposite effect. Many members of staff felt unmotivated and unhappy at work and as a consequence many didn’t stay past the one year mark – including me.
In my opinion, a good manager shouldn’t discourage you from going to work. Of course they need to be authoritative and they can’t be everyone’s best friend, but they should encourage their staff, help them to develop their skills, support them and offer their expert advice – after all, that is why they are in a senior position, isn’t it?
I appreciate everyone’s view of a ‘good manager’ is different but here are a few things I think good managers are able to deliver to their staff and why we need more of them in the workplace:
A good manager can help you to develop key skills, which can only be a good thing for the company you are working for. Good managers help to guide you through the workplace, picking up on any training needs and organising the relevant training or tutorials. Not only does this help with your self confidence and personal development but it inevitably helps you to perform more efficiently at work.
A good manager can build rapport with their staff as well as their customers. Rapport building is essential for a number of reasons but the main reason from a management point of view, is efficiency. If a manager has a good working relationship with an employee they have built up a level of trust and respect and that employee will work extra hard in order to avoid letting their manager down.
Under bad management many people become un-enthusiastic about their role (I know I did) and therefore spend less time and effort trying to create results. But good managers can change all of that. A good manager can build a good working relationship with their staff and make each staff member feel unique. With regular meetings, assessing weaknesses and encouraging strengths a manager can encourage more work and productivity from their team members.
Some companies suffer with high staff turnover rates and this will no doubt have at least something to do with the management style. But if a company employs a good manager and someone that staff respect and like working for then staff retention will automatically increase.
What do you think – how important do you think good managers are?