So you want to be a manager… a good one.

Being a good manager boils down to three points:  Communication, Knowledge, and Honesty.  They are vital – to have buy-in, to be productive, and to solve problems.  Effective managing is a balance between being professional and being human.

Being a good manager takes patience and skill. Sometimes you need to be hands on. Sometimes you need to delegate or trust in your team to take the reigns.
Being a good manager takes patience and skill. Sometimes you need to be hands on. Sometimes you need to delegate or trust in your team to take the reins. Can you tell who the manager is in this photo?

Honesty.   No matter what level of management, you have to respect the hierarchy.  You are never the be-all, end-all.  Employees matter – but they aren’t the focus.  Keep your patrons at the front of every conversation and decision.

  • Empathize, challenge, engage, celebrate success.
  • Empower people to succeed.
  • Set boundaries – but be flexible.
  • Join networking groups.  Encourage staff to network too.
  • Respect non-work time (breaks, vacation time, etc.).
  • Respect commitments and promises.  Instead of promising, write it down as a possible idea.  Take it under advisement and follow-up on it.
  • Treat employees like they are new, bright successes.  They’ll give you more and they’ll stay.
  • Give the spotlight to your team. When they shine, you shine.
  • Let professionals do their job and foster their talents.  Delegate. Check-in.
  • Hire good, hard-working people to meld into your current group of good, hard-working people.  Choose someone based on their talents and skills – not because you want to get the hiring process over with and are settling for anyone in the pool of current candidates to fill a vacancy.

Be yourself – your best self.  You will make mistakes – own up to them.

  • Be fair. Be honest.  Be transparent.  Be insightful. Be open-minded. Build trust and respect.
  • Project a positive image that you want others to emulate.  Remember people typically do as you do, not as you say. Set the tone and pace.
  • Have fun.  But not at the expense of others.
  • Don’t take things personally.  Keep your emotions in check.  Don’t let your insecurities guide you or stifle them.
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated.  You never know when the shoe might be on the other foot.  Don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do or want to do.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses – know theirs.
  • Be hard-working and continue to educate yourself.  Leading by example is important.
  • Do what you are good at – but not at the expense of doing what you like, instead of delegating.
  • Have a mentor.  Be a mentor.
  • Finally, remember you are managing people.  We all make mistakes.  Don’t be judgmental.  You are bound to come across people who you may not like on a personal level or even a professional level.  But you must treat everyone fairly and honestly.


  • When you are new manager, sit in with your team, listen, observe.  And when you are no longer the new manager – continue to be observant, to listen, to learn.
  • Know what your team does – the procedures, the system, the responsibilities.  Walk a mile in their shoes periodically to keep in touch with the reality of the situation and know how that translates to your team and to your patrons.
  • Become part of the team so you know each person.  Support your employees.  Trust your veteran employees.  Earn respect and get buy-in.  What are their talents? Do you know them enough to help them be successful or to challenge them?
  • Don’t allow for time-wasting or ineffective procedures, meetings, or tasks.  Ask why you do what you do.  Allow for change and improvement.  Don’t limit talent.
  • Be prepared. Be relevant. Be clear.
  • Be consistent – with your employees – with your patrons.
  • Take action when you should.  There’s nothing worse than spinning your wheels and not moving forward.
  • Think outside the box.  Encourage employees to do the same – be creative and passionate.
  • What limits you? Time? Money? Recognize them and figure it in the plan.
  • Talk to employees about a performance issues one-on-one.  Be brief. Be specific. Be bold. Be caring. Provide honest and sincere feedback.
  • Recognize contributions and great work, even good work.
  • Be an ambassador for your team.  Seek support from other departments and networks.   When their network expands, your network expands.
  • Use the important words:  please and thank you.  Show your appreciation.
A training lab isn’t necessary – but if you have one, take advantage of it.

A note about training. 

I believe we are always learning. I also believe the more you learn, the more you grow.

When you hire someone, the more time you give them to learn, the more they can give back.

I like throwing people in – all in.  The first days should be filled with policies, procedures, training manuals, etc.  The point is to let the new hire know they have a lot to learn and you plan on showing them the way.

After the first few weeks of learning your computer system, customer service techniques, policies, and procedures – having a shadow program works best.  First the new hire shadows an experienced person.  Then the experienced person shadows them.

On-going training.  Periodic refresher training is a great idea, especially to reinforce skills and techniques.  Group training when new technology or anything else new comes up can be a good team building exercise.  Cross-training with different departments is a great way to help the team grow and to see different perspectives. 

I could go on about what it takes to be a good manager.  I tried to break it down and hope I gave enough of the basics to get my points across.  Though a big part of management involves meetings, I purposely left that topic for a future post.

~I’m here to help

BTW: neither of the people in the photo are managers.  The manager was in her office letting the employees practice with the new equipment and software.  They are taking turns and assisting one another.

A few wise quotes from strong leaders:

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

“Nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“He who controls others may think he’s powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” ~Tao Te Ching

For more management tips, check out some of these:

Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. 2015. The Best Managers Are Boring Managers. Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from:

Cincotta, Craig. 2014. 7 Traits to Turn Good Managers Into Great Managers.  Retrieved from:

Lipman, Victor. 2014.  6 Fundamentals That Can Make You A Better Manager. Forbes. Retrieved from:

Taibbi, Robert. 2015. Being a Great Manager. Psychology Today.  Retrieved from: