“The best manager I have ever had”. Many of us have uttered or heard this phrase at some point in our lives. But what does it truly signify? What distinguishes a good manager from a bad one?
You may have come across numerous literary works that emphasize the qualities and traits of effective leaders and managers. However, little attention has been given to the psychology, daily interactions, and decision-making processes that enable managers to bring out the best in their employees.
According to Gallup, hiring a manager is the most critical decision organizations make. Unfortunately, most companies end up hiring the wrong manager, with a staggering 82% of hiring decisions resulting in mismatched talent. Furthermore, research suggests that 70% of individuals in management roles lack the necessary skills for the job.
Bad managers cost companies billions of dollars annually and can even lead to the downfall of a company if there are too many of them. On the other hand, hiring talented managers can propel your company forward and keep it ahead of the competition.
As an entrepreneur or business leader, your success depends largely on your own or your managers' ability to comprehend the psychology of your employees.
In this blog post, we will explore how a basic understanding of human psychology can enhance managers' performance. We will also delve into different types of managers, the common mistakes they make, and what they should or should not do to become exceptional managers.
How Psychology Enhances Managerial Skills
Is it necessary to be a psychologist to thrive as a business owner or manager? Why is understanding your employees' personality traits so important?
While it is not mandatory to possess an in-depth knowledge of personality dynamics to be a good business leader, having a basic understanding can significantly facilitate effective management and resolution of interpersonal issues.
When you make an effort to comprehend an employee's internal motivations, it enables you to encourage them to unleash their full potential.
Consider the following example to further illustrate this point:
Suppose you need to provide feedback to one of your employees who prepared a report but missed an important detail. If you possess an understanding of human psychology, you will be mindful of how you deliver the feedback. Employees often perceive feedback as criticism and react accordingly.
Instead of saying, "Hey Becky, you forgot to include last week's numbers in the report; make sure you don't repeat that mistake," you can say, "Hey Becky, you did an excellent job on the report. It would be great if you could include last week's numbers next time."
Your response to a particular situation should be tailored to the individual you are dealing with. For instance, if you have to handle a narcissistic employee, it is crucial to know how to address traits like arrogance and aggression. If firing the narcissist is not an option and they are causing significant problems for the company, your only recourse is to learn how to manage such individuals. For example, you can make them feel special, thereby motivating them to perform at a higher level.
A competent manager is adept at leveraging negative traits and transforming them into assets.
Types of Managers
What kind of manager are you? How do your team members or employees perceive you? Do you possess qualities that drive employees to excel or become more productive?
There are various types of managers in the business world. Let's explore four types of managers who have demonstrated exceptional performance:
Appreciative Manager: Cultivating a Culture of Recognition
In the workplace, everyone appreciates recognition for their efforts. Employees prefer working with managers who acknowledge and value their work. To demonstrate care and appreciation for your employees and their contributions, creating a culture of recognition is paramount.
Recognizing good work doesn't require a significant time investment. Simple gestures like sending a quick thank-you email or message to individuals who have achieved outstanding results can go a long way. Additionally, meeting employees' emotional needs by appreciating those who come up with innovative ideas fosters a productive and positive work environment.
Receptive to Feedback: Embracing Collaboration and Collective Intelligence
We have all encountered managers who seem disinterested in hearing what their team has to say. Such managers assign work, give orders, and rarely listen to their employees' perspectives on assigned projects. Unfortunately, most managers are not adept listeners, impeding their ability to foster collaboration and gather valuable insights from their team.
Being a receptive manager means actively seeking and embracing feedback from your employees. It involves creating an environment where open communication is encouraged, and team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. When employees know that their opinions are valued and that their feedback can lead to positive changes, they become more engaged and invested in their work.
Receptive managers understand that they don't have all the answers and recognize the power of collective intelligence. They actively seek input from their team members, consider different perspectives, and make informed decisions based on the information gathered. This approach not only enhances problem-solving but also empowers employees, making them feel valued and part of the decision-making process.
Caring Manager: Nurturing Employee Well-being and Growth
Effective managers go beyond their roles and demonstrate genuine care for their employees. It's not enough to simply proclaim care; actions speak louder than words. For example, managers can make a significant impact by sending simple, inexpensive gifts to their team members, creating memorable experiences. Welcoming new employees with a thoughtful welcome kit is another way to make them feel valued and appreciated.
Additionally, caring managers understand the importance of providing growth opportunities. They support their employees' professional development by offering career development plans, ensuring that employees have the chance to progress and acquire new skills. Progressive organizations prioritize employee growth, creating an environment where individuals feel motivated and empowered to reach their full potential.
Growth-oriented Manager: Promoting Growth in the Workplace
People don't want to feel stuck in their jobs; they want to grow. That's why having opportunities for growth is highly valued by employees. As a manager, what can you do to help your team members grow? If you don't support their growth, they may eventually seek other jobs where they can further develop their skills.
Progressive organizations provide career development plans to ensure that employees have opportunities to progress and acquire new skills.
How a Manager can Support Employees
Managers often encounter situations where an employee makes a significant error or a project doesn't meet expectations. How should managers react in such circumstances? How can they effectively address underperforming team members?
Naturally, frustration and anger arise when employees make mistakes, particularly when it negatively impacts critical projects. Traditionally, the response has been to punish the employee, aiming to prevent future mistakes and send a message to the rest of the team.
However, some managers choose a different approach when dealing with underperforming team members: kindness and compassion. This doesn't imply a lack of concern for project success or outcomes. Instead, it presents an opportunity for coaching without passing judgment.
According to SHRM’s 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, a lack of support from management is a leading cause of employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Strong support from managers correlates with lower turnover rates.
Kindness is a crucial leadership quality. Research from Harvard Business School reveals that leaders who project warmth are more effective than those who rely on fear as a management approach. Kind managers excel at building trust, which is crucial in leadership.
Studies conducted by Oxford University confirm that kindness contributes to employee happiness. Happy employees tend to be more productive. Acts of kindness, even small ones like a smile or nod, create a positive culture, fostering trust, attentiveness, and appreciation.
How to Be a Kind Manager
Don’t react instantly
To project warmth and become a likable manager, it's important to avoid immediate reactions. Take a step back, control your emotions, and respond thoughtfully. Practicing meditation can aid in emotional regulation. Additionally, consider your employee's perspective, fostering empathy and compassionate responses. Learning to forgive strengthens relationships and positively impacts well-being.
Consider your employee’s perspective
Managers who neglect employee psychology often make critical mistakes, such as micromanaging through fear, failing to listen actively, becoming overly familiar, not providing constructive feedback, and withholding shared leadership opportunities.
Learn how to forgive
Learning how to forgive not only strengthens your relationships with your team but also creates a positive impact on your own well-being. Carrying a grudge, on the other hand, leads to bad health. So, take forgiveness as a tool to lower stress and creates a productive work environment.
Common Mistakes Managers Make With Their Employees
Managers who disregard the psychological well-being of their employees often fall into the following traps:
The number one mistake managers can make is leading through fear and a lack of vision, which often results in excessive micromanaging. This hampers team motivation and stifles creativity.
It is crucial to listen to your employees and engage in two-way communication. Failing to be an active and respectful listener shows a lack of value for your team members.
Overly Friendly Manager
Some managers fail to maintain professional boundaries and try to become too friendly with their subordinates, compromising their own integrity.
Lack of Feedback
Mistake lies in being defensive or avoiding questions when receiving feedback from the team. Inability to accept feedback is an undesirable trait in a manager.
Neglecting Shared Leadership
A traditional business approach is to share leadership with employees, empowering them to make decisions. Frontline workers often possess more subject matter expertise than managers or leaders, so not tapping into their intelligence is a mistake.
Influencing Employees' Mood as a Manager
The concept is simple: if a manager is happy, it is likely that their team will be happy too. Happy workers undoubtedly produce better results. Conversely, an unhappy and frustrated manager makes it difficult for the team to remain calm and content.
Organizations require both happy managers and employees, which is why they seek specific behaviors and competencies when hiring managers, as these factors contribute to workplace happiness.
Managers can influence their teams' moods by considering various factors such as social activities, sleep patterns, work-life balance, and stressful events that affect emotions. By helping employees regulate and control their emotions, managers can make a positive impact. Simple gestures like a nod, smile, or word of appreciation can significantly influence the team's mood.
Managing Difficult Employees
Your employees are your greatest asset, but managing them can sometimes be challenging, as there may be individuals who exhibit unhealthy behavior. It is important not to allow such behavior to create stressful situations for others.
Here are valuable tips for managing difficult people:
- Listen actively and provide clear feedback.
- Establish specific consequences if behavior does not improve.
- Foster an environment of trust and collaboration, avoiding distrust and backstabbing.
- Maintain accurate perceptions of the situation and avoid self-deception.
- Deliver tough feedback in a reasonable and constructive manner.
Positive psychology allows managers and leaders to focus on developing the strengths of their employees rather than fixating on weaknesses. As a manager, it is essential to enhance your understanding of workplace psychology, instilling a growth mindset in your team and driving remarkable results for your organization.
By comprehending the reasons behind people's actions, you can effectively communicate and empathize with them. Prioritize your team's psychological needs, making them feel valued and empowered, while leveraging technology and tools to address other talent management challenges.