The 10 habits of successful managers

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The quality of management is critical to the success of any business from the leaders at the top who set the strategy and direction to the army of line managers who, through their teams, help deliver the goals. 

What differentiates managers in high performing organisations from those in low performing businesses? The answer is trust. 

It’s not rocket science to see why trust is important in any organisation. But there’s another critical reason – trust drives engagement and engagement drives performance. High-performing organisations, such as the UK’s Best Workplaces, know this. Everything their management does is designed to build and sustain a culture of trust where employees feel respected, valued and motivated to do their best.

But what does this mean in practice? We looked at the behaviours of managers in a range of high- and low-performing organisations – the 2015 top 10 Best Workplaces and the bottom 10 unranked organisations.

Here’s a countdown of the top 10 management behaviours:

10) Having a clear view of where the business is going and how to get there
9) Being competent at running the business

Nothing builds trust more in leadership than a sense that leaders know where the business is going and how to get there. The majority of employees from the top 10 Best Workplaces believe their management is competent and trust their ability to lead the organisation. They also understand and support the organisation’s goals and their role in helping to achieve them

‘The management structure is sound and uses common sense in decision-making and the running of the business. This sounds obvious but there have been many businesses where I have been employed where this just isn’t the cases. My place of employment understands the logic of looking after their employees who, in turn, look after their clients, creating a cycle of efficiency and above-and-beyond satisfaction.’

8) Showing appreciation for good work and extra effort
7) Showing sincere interest in employees as people

Managers who truly identify with their employees as people and pay them the attention they need to feel appreciated often have a big hand in empowering and engaging them. Similarly, good people managers understand how important it is to acknowledge individual work and effort, from a sincere ‘thank you’ to more official public stamps of recognition. 94% of employees in the top workplaces feel that management shows a sincere interest in them as people rather than just as employees.

‘No matter how small the achievement managers make sure it is recognised across the business. Senior managers take the time to personally congratulate individuals which does great for self-esteem and makes it a very positive working environment.’

6) Genuinely seeking out and responding to employees’ suggestions and ideas
5) Involving people in decisions that affect them

Communication can often be reduced to a top-down relaying of information. Good management knows communication needs to be a fluid, two-way process which actively seeks employees’ input. Over 90% of employees in the top Best Workplaces feel included in decisions that affect them and their jobs. They also say that management listens and responds to their suggestions and ideas which shows their management trusts them and respects them as equals.

As a management team we ensure that we discuss every employee each month covering what they're doing, whether they need support, recognising their achievements and looking at how future roles can be matched with their development needs and career aspirations.

4) Hiring people who fit in well
3) Assigning and co-ordinating people well

Most employees at the top 10 workplaces trust management’s ability to oversee and direct workload efficiently; this also helps people achieve a better work/life balance. And most agree that management is good at recruiting new talent showing they have a good understanding of the business’ needs and cultural fit.

‘Management goes out of its way to make working here an experience and to make sure you fit in.’

2) Actions matching words
1) Keeping promises or commitments

But top of the list by far is managers doing what they said they would and ‘walking the talk’. The culture of a workplace is shaped by the day-to-day behaviours of management. Employees value leaders that consistently ‘walk the talk’ but often the values which are advocated by management are not the ones which people see around them. It is those values which actually create the culture. By not ‘walking the talk’ managers can unintentionally create a culture the organisation would actually want to avoid.

The importance of managers keeping their promises and ‘walking the talk’ cannot be underestimated; there’s a gap of 61% between the top 10 high and bottom 10 low performing organisations in how managers deliver on these key behaviours.

‘Management always back me up to the hilt. For example, when I requested some expensive equipment to provide a better service, I got exactly what I asked for, no questions asked.’

Trust is ultimately a key factor in business success. Good managers make it an integral part of their culture and reinforce it by what they say and do and how they do it. The benefits, as the Best Workplaces will testify, are worth it. 

About Helen Wright

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By Padma
17th Jul 2015 13:24

Great article! I really agree with the point about managers 'walking the talk'. It is an act that causes employees to trust and believe in you as a leader. When I can see my manager 'walking the talk' I'd have no problem following s/he to wherever they took me. It's simply because their behaviour made me trust them.

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