Any organization that wants to achieve success needs strong line managers. Since they take on responsibility for running a distinct team or function within a business, these individuals need to reach certain standards and get results from their department to ensure the entire company can function effectively.
There are many skills and styles that can help you succeed in the line manager role. Here are seven qualities that are absolutely essential:
Starting out with a fairly obvious one, it’s hugely important to have good leadership skills so you can inspire, motivate and support the individuals in your team, helping to ensure they do their best work and deliver optimum results for the company.
Perhaps most importantly of all, workers need to have a healthy level of respect for their manager. Respect can be earned through the demonstration of qualities such as honesty, integrity and upholding the same standards you expect of your employees.
Having empathy makes you an infinitely better manager, since it improves your ability to help and support your team members at the times when they need it most. If someone comes to you and says they are experiencing difficulties - either at work or in their personal life - being able to empathize instantly puts you in a stronger position to understand the problem and help find a solution.
Lack of empathy can result in dissatisfied, disengaged employees who have little interest in working hard for a manager who doesn’t understand or care about them.
3. Good communication
Effective communication is essential at every level of business, from the very top, all the way down to new recruits and junior team members. Often, good communication in the line manager role is about listening, rather than dominating conversations and telling your staff what to do.
“Too often, managers seek to take command and direct the conversation with their employees. However, as a leader and a mentor, it’s important to understand how your employees are feeling and what might influence their behaviors.” - Nicolette Degrassi, partner and team leader, technology at WinterWyman.
With teams of people to lead, resources to manage, results to measure and numerous other jobs to do, the line manager role can be hugely complicated. Being organized is essential if you want to make the most effective use of your time and keep your team functioning smoothly.
One of the key steps towards organizing your own and your department’s workload is prioritization. If you’re able to effectively prioritize every task on the horizon, you can feel confident you’re making the best use of available resources and getting business-critical jobs done.
Managers must be willing and able to take on certain responsibilities themselves, but it’s equally important to show trust in your team members and delegate important tasks. As well as simply being an efficient use of the human resources at your disposal, trusting people with responsibility supports professional development and increases job satisfaction, reducing the risk of staff turnover.
“Another thing that makes a manager great is recognizing that she doesn’t have all of the answers, so dictating a course of action (whether it be for a project, a report, or workflow) doesn’t show her direct reports that she trusts their ability to problem solve and plan.” - Meghann Isgan, team success manager at Readers.com.
6. Proactive thinking
As a manager, you must be willing to take ultimate responsibility for any failures or mistakes in your team. One of the best ways of assuming this responsibility and reducing the risk of serious problems impacting the business is spotting them before they occur.
While your employees are preoccupied with the day-to-day work and output of the team, you should be looking at the bigger picture and taking pre-emptive measures to ensure your people are able to get on with their work unhindered.
Making decisions - often hard ones - is another fundamental part of being a line manager. You can feel confident you’re doing a good job if you’re accepting responsibility for making the most difficult decisions, and your judgment more often than not leads to positive results for the business.
Research has shown that, as you make your way up the management chain, the need to make hard calls becomes greater. If you have naturally good judgement, or the potential to improve your decision making through learning and experience, you have a fundamental quality to be a successful line manager.