How to be a manager every team wants

by By Michelle Chin (mchin@sph.com.sg)
published on 30 June 2016

Be a competent manager who not only delivers business targets, but also builds teams and develops people. Whether you are seasoned or starting out as a rookie manager, get the best out of your team.

1. Be clear on objectives

Build and motivate a capable team which is well-equipped with the fundamental skills.

Mr Adrian Tan, a career coach who has more than 10 years of experience, recommended setting ground rules and making your expectations known.

Mr Jonathan Kwan, a career coach with more than 15 years of experience said: “When building your team, focus on developing technical competencies which are hard skills but do not neglect behavioural traits which are soft skills such as communication.

“Provide regular and specific feedback so that team members know what to improve on or modify. Do not forget to give positive feedback as well.”

2. Motivate your team

Go beyond basic competencies to nurture a high-performing team that delivers consistently stellar results.

Mr Paul Heng, a career coach who has more than 15 years of experience, said: “Managers sometimes assume their role is to produce business outcomes and results. This role is necessary of course, but they also are appointed as managers to coach and lead others. Managers must learn to inspire others. If they can do this well, team members will be motivated to do their best for the team.

“Get to know each of your team members, understand their strengths and developmental gaps, and nurture them to be successful.”

Mr Kwan said that it is important to set challenging yet achievable goals for the team. Providing regular constructive feedback can push the team to excel.

He said: “Great managers are also great teachers. A personalised approach to nurture each member is useful. Spend time with the team and get to know each person's values, as well as what motivates, excites and inspires him or her.”

3. Acknowledge good work

Make your team feel appreciated and valued.

Mr Heng said: "There are many ways of giving praise. Possible ways can be public praise, writing a nice e-mail and copying the management, or offering a celebratory meal. A pay rise and promotions are not the only ways to give credit for good work."

Mr Tan said that if the aim is to encourage team spirit, the award can be given at a team level so that the team can enjoy the fruits of labour together.


4. Handle employees’ mistakes effectively

What can managers do when employees mess up at work?

Find out the obstacles and difficulties employees are facing, ask them to evaluate what they could have done better, focus on improvement, and turn slip-ups into strengths.

Mr Heng said: “Mistakes are great learning opportunities. Focus on doing things right or differently the next time. Do not focus too much on what went wrong. Be solution-focused as it is much more positive and inspiring.”

5. Be flexible and creative

Rigidity or complacency can stagnate the progress of the team. With ever-changing business conditions and client expectations, being agile and closely attuned to business climates are useful survival skills.

Shift away from tried-and-tested formulas if they are no longer as useful or pertinent. Pushing frontiers to execute new ideas, and exploring new ground can spur the team to achieve more.