Love them or hate them; every office needs a manager. While movies and TV shows love to make fun of managers, the reality is that someone always has to be in charge. While a good manager can dramatically improve the performance of their subordinates, a bad manager can slow things down and cause people to quit. Keep reading to learn the top six qualities of a great office manager.
Why Great Managers Are Important
There’s a saying that people don’t quit jobs; they quit managers. A job is rarely so onerous that someone quits based on their responsibilities alone. Most of the time, people quit because their manager has done a poor job nurturing their skills and relationship with the company. Managers can have a major effect on people quitting, including these reasons:
- Feeling ignored and undervalued
- Getting bored and not using their full capabilities
- Not fitting into the company culture
- Having ideas stolen or no credit given for ideas
- Conflicts at work going unresolved
- Poor communication of expectations
- Little enforcement of standards and policies
- Lack of trust and micromanaging
As you can see from this list, managers can have a broad impact on their employees. A great manager can make a positive difference in their employees’ work experience.
Trust Your Employees
One of the biggest complaints people have about managers is micromanaging. Imagine that you’re in a kitchen making pancakes, and every time you grab the pan, someone else has to hold it with you. When you use a spatula to put the pancakes on a plate, there’s someone else holding your hand every step of the way. Things would get frustrating pretty quickly, and this is how micromanaged employees feel.
Most employees want to do their jobs with as little oversight as possible. They want you to trust them and that they know their job responsibilities and standards. Of course, if they aren’t meeting expectations, that’s a different conversation. But as long as you train your employees well, they should be able to get work done without you looking over their shoulders.
When you work at the same place every day, it’s easy for monotony and complacency to set in. Humans love variety, and it’s easy for us to get bored, distracted, and unmotivated when our surroundings don’t change.
A good manager knows how people work and can find ways to inspire them with renewed enthusiasm. Being an energetic and positive presence in the workplace can help people remember why they like working for you.
If your employees seem unenthusiastic about work, talk to your employees and find out if there’s an easy solution. Sometimes employees just need a small change, like an office switch, the ability to listen to music while they work, or a better selection of coffees and teas in the breakroom.
Managers can easily become productivity chokepoints, especially if they like to micromanage. If you require your approval on every document, you will quickly end up with too much work. When you’re bogged down, nobody else can move forward with their tasks, creating a bottleneck.
The best managers know how to limit their presence so that not every task needs approval. If you still can’t complete feedback tasks quickly enough, it may be time to promote someone to assistant manager, so you avoid slowing down productivity.
Honesty is one of the most important top six qualities of a great office manager. Honesty means being truthful, which can look different depending on the situation. For example, honesty means telling employees when they’re not performing well so that they know what they need to do to improve. Sugarcoating the situation can actually hurt an employee’s chance of being successful.
Honesty also means being objective about things instead of basing your decisions on who you like the most or what you wish was the truth. Be honest with yourself first so you can do the same with your employees. If someone you like wants a promotion they’re not qualified for, being honest will help the office stay productive.
Listen to Your Employees
A great manager knows how to listen to their employees. Some people are good at promoting their ideas, while others are shyer about voicing their opinions. Listening might mean calling on the quiet employees who don’t naturally leap into the discussion. Or it might mean offering more than one way to share thoughts, like a suggestion box or weekly survey.
Listening to employees isn’t just about words, either. It’s about noticing things, like when a hardworking employee suddenly seems exhausted. It can also mean noticing when a person’s skills are going unused and helping them set goals for promotion.
Organization Is Key
Organization is the trait that makes all the others on this list effective. When you’re organized, you can keep better track of information. For example, how can you expect to be honest with an employee about their performance if you’re constantly losing documents that should be in their file? How can you delegate if you lose track of appointments and forget when tasks are due?
To be organized, you need to have a clean workspace, both physically and on your computer. Put all files (paper or digital) into folders with a consistent naming scheme, so you know where to find things. You may find that using color code labels helps you categorize folders for easy reference. It’s also imperative that you have a calendar where you track meetings and task due dates.
Pro-Tip: Urgent vs. Important Tasks
When you enter the office and arrive at your desk, list the things you need to do before doing anything else. Next, organize those tasks by importance and urgency. If a task is urgent but not important, it’s perfect for delegating to someone else, like an assistant manager.
Organization Made Easy
If you’re looking for an easy way to categorize your folders and documents, try ChromaLabel’s colored stickers. They come in dots and rectangles in dozens of colors so you can be organized and match your aesthetic. Use them to mark tasks on your calendar or even color code binders. There’s no limit to what you can do.