5 Ways to Become a Better Manager

Having a good relationship with employees will not only make them happy, but your company more efficient.

learn more about Britt Andreatta

By Britt Andreatta

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ineffective managers do a lot of damage in today's business world. Their actions and attitudes can lead to decreased engagement and productivity along with increased turnover and even lawsuits. The number-one reason people leave a company is a bad boss, and 20 percent of employees feel their bosses impact their careers negatively.

Research shows that a positive relationship with your manager directly influences your job satisfaction. The way you manage your projects and employees affects the productivity of your entire department and company -- so mastering management skills is crucial. Our expert teachers from online education company lynda.com recommend the following five things to focus on:

1. Pick the right management style. There is a range of management styles and all are a blend of three key behaviors: how much task direction you provide through instructions and training; how much autonomy you give employees in making decisions; and how much you invest in building relationships through open communication, coaching and engaging employees.

Related: If You Want to Lead, You Also Need to Manage

We all have a natural style of management, but it's only going to be effective part of the time. It will be the perfect fit for some of your employees, and they will thrive under you. But if you want your entire team to thrive, you must be willing to become versed in more than one style. More importantly, you need to know when and how to switch between them.

2. Become more persuasive. Dr. John Ullmen, a professor of management and organizations at UCLA, notes that "our passion to persuade often exceeds our ability to convince," because we only use a narrow range of tactics, focusing on the ones that would convince us. To become more persuasive, expand your toolkit.

Ullmen believes there are 12 tactics you can use in varying combinations to create success. These range from the informational, such as rational analysis and citing credible sources; the strategic, aligning with high-level goals or with key values; to the interpersonal of leading by example. Become versed in all 12 tactics, and choose the combination that will best convince your intended audience.

3. Get clear about accountability. Part of your role is to hold people accountable for results. However, it's highly unlikely that your direct reports are actually working on the right priorities. Scott Blanchard, co-author of Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest, conducted a study asking managers to make a list of priorities for each employee. Then employees were asked to make their own list. The average agreement between them was only 21 percent.

Clearly communicate your expectations to your employees and check in periodically to ensure you're still on the same page. Only hold people accountable for the issues that really matter and be a role model for accountability yourself.

Related: Stopping Employees From Jumping Ship is Easier Than You Think (Infographic)

4. Engage your employees. Employee engagement is a key contributor to increased retention and productivity. According to MBA professor Todd Dewett, engaged employees feel emotionally attached to their work, and identify with the whole organization. Yet studies show that 70 percent of U.S. employees are disengaged.

Common mistakes that managers make are confusing engagement with motivation, assuming that their employees share their own level of engagement, and using the same tactics with every employee. Your efforts will be most effective when you tailor them to each employee individually.

5. Resolve cross-department conflict. Working across functions and teams is a normal practice in modern business. Eventually, every manager faces cross-department conflict. Simon T. Bailey, author of top business book Release Your Brilliance, believes that conflict occurs when there is a fight for resources, a weak relationship and a lack of communication between departments.

He recommends first, build rapport and connection with the other team. Learn more about their goals and their challenges. Next, be willing to give to get. Focus on how you can help them achieve a win. Then later, have the courage to ask for their help in return. Work together to focus on what is best for the company and put the integrity of the brand before individual or department goals.

By using these effective strategies, you'll be a better manager, enhancing the success of your company and accelerating your career.

Related: Is Codependency Hurting the Way You Lead Your Company?

Britt Andreatta
Dr. Britt Andreatta is the author of six titles on leadership and management at lynda.com, inc. With an MA in communication and a PhD in education, leadership and organizations, Britt is a popular keynote speaker and executive coach with over 25 years of professional experience. Learn more at www.BrittAndreatta.com.

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