4 top tips for being a good manager

Posted on: April 11th, 2016


Lucy Bristow’s Operations Director Heather Froud reveals her secrets of management success learnt over 33 years in the recruitment business.

People have plenty to say about their managers. There’s the good: He’s a great leader; she’s an inspiration to us all. He recognises our efforts; she’s a great motivator. And then there’s the bad: He expects too much; she overworks us. He doesn’t care; she doesn’t listen.

Unfortunately, the bad comments are as common as the good. According to a survey conducted by Approved Index, almost half (42%) of workers have left a job because of a bad boss. The survey also revealed that 44% dislike their manager more than Katie ‘controversial for the sake of it’ Hopkins. Ouch.

Away from divisive personalities, managers clearly need to do more to avoid driving employees away. People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s four tips I’ve learned over the years that help guarantee management success.

1. Recruit the right people in the first place

It’s up to managers to recruit the right people; it’s not their fault if you hire the wrong ones. If one of my hires can’t do the job – I take full responsibility. I love to recruit passionate bright, energetic people, train them, make sure they understand what they’re doing, and then let them do it their way.

People buy from people and although recruitment is known to be a sales environment, if you don’t absolutely love people then you’ll hate it. We have two sets of clients: candidates and employers. One gives us the money but without the other we’ve got nothing to sell. Both can be incredibly rewarding one day and incredibly frustrating another. People are people – and that’s precisely the challenge that’s kept me here for 33 years.

2. Encourage mutual respect

A lack of respect can spell disaster for any manager. I used to work for someone who didn’t respect anybody but himself (let’s call him Mr X). He thought he was the best thing since sliced bread and forgot that no one succeeds on their own. Needless to say, I learned a lot from his mistakes.

Success depends on great teamwork. Whatever your job title, nobody is better than anyone else. I think people who believe too much of their own PR are usually heading for a fall. I’m rarely late, but if I am I will apologise to everyone in the office. I expect the same and I get the same as a result: it’s all about mutual respect. Respect is what makes you a leader rather than a manager. I don’t micro-manage anybody and I always recruit grown-ups.

3. Play to people’s strengths

I think coaching, showing your human side and leading by example are three key elements to being a great manager. Nobody goes to work and thinks ‘I’m going to do a bad job today’ – they just don’t. If they’re in the right job but find themselves struggling it’s because their training hasn’t given them what they need. Good managers don’t just see a poorly-performing employee, they see someone they can help succeed.

We swap client companies between our consultants quite regularly to find the right fit. Everybody’s different and we all like to work in a particular way. People will always gel with some personalities better than they do with others. That’s not a criticism of a consultant, it’s just part of life.

4. Encourage progression

We’re quite a flat structure here; we’re a small company, so our consultants are given the chance to become experts in their field. In turn, they can help nurture new people and help their careers move forward too. I think that’s the secret to longevity.

I like Richard Branson’s take on this: ‘Train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’. I think the difference between a manager and a leader is that people are happy to follow a leader rather than just work for them. This means the ethos and values of the company stay strong and this is precisely what our clients and candidates buy in to and trust.

And finally…

The best piece of advice I’ve been given about management was when my boss first promoted me to manager back in 1990. She said: “Look after your team and don’t forget to have fun”. She knew I had a tendency not to share my worries and that my ‘worried/concentrating face’ was (and still is) pretty scary. That advice helped a lot and I still warn new recruits about my concentrating face!

If you want to work for a company that cares about people and plays to their strengths, we’re recruiting now. Call the Lucy Bristow team on 0117 925 5988 for more information.

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