There are good bosses out there, and then there are truly great ones. If you want your employees to wake up thanking their lucky stars every day that you're their manager, here are a few steps you can take to become an even better version of your professional self.
1. Make yourself more available
Between meetings, reports, and other essential tasks, your workdays are probably heavily booked. But if you want to be a better manager, you'll need to carve out the time to interact with your direct reports and address their needs. By making yourself more available, you'll send the message that you're there to support your employees, which is what they deserve. So take a look at your calendar and block off some chunks of time for your team members to pop into your office and share what's on their mind. Not only will they appreciate it, but you might end up gaining insight that helps your team's performance improve.
2. Be more flexible
As a manager, it's your job to ensure that work gets done and deadlines are met. But that doesn't mean you can't give your team a little leeway when possible. Being flexible sends the message that you care about your employees and value their contributions, so unless your company prohibits it, let your team members work from home as needed or alter their schedules when necessary. You may come to find that they're so grateful they work even harder as a result.
3. Encourage collaboration and teamwork
Many managers make a point of rewarding the top performers on their teams, but that's not necessarily the best way to go. When colleagues feel they need to compete with one another, they waste time and energy shutting each other down rather than joining forces to produce results. So do your part to foster collaboration by rewarding your employees on a group basis, not an individual one. Set milestones for your team, and celebrate group wins more so than individual accomplishments.
4. Get your hands dirty
A good manager is someone who really understands what each direct report contributes to his or her team -- and what better way to do that than by actually taking part in that day-to-day work? By working alongside your team members, you'll get a sense of the skills they bring to the table and the challenges they might be facing. And that will put you in a better position to capitalize on the former and aim to improve the latter.
5. Be generous with feedback
As a manager, it's your job to provide your team members with criticism. But even if yours is constructive in nature, it's really not all that helpful for your employees to hear it only on rare occasions. So rather than stick to a quarterly or annual performance review schedule (perhaps as mandated by your company), pledge to provide your direct reports with consistent, ongoing feedback. This way, they'll have an opportunity to incorporate that feedback throughout the year and do a much better job in the process.
Being a good manager often boils down to making employees feel appreciated and heard. It also means taking the time to support your employees, acknowledge their efforts, and address their concerns. So rather than spend most of your time and energy fixating on output and goals, try shifting some of your focus toward the people who come to work every day and report in to you -- because ultimately, their performance will dictate how good you are at your job.