Management Checklist: 30 Things the Best Managers Know and Do

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hurricane-484Congratulations! All that hard work and you’ve finally proven your value. Now you’re ready to move from associate to manager. Take a deep breath and get ready for the hurricane. There are many books, seminars and mentors available to guide your journey. Popular project management software provider Mavenlink’s recent blog turned best practices into a checklist. What a great place to start!

Hurricane You Say?

Successful management is a habit. The first days at the helm are going to be chaotic. You’ll forget to eat, you’ll forget to sit down. Mavenlink’s advice is spot on. Build yourself a checklist and put it on your desk. Follow it religiously. Start your career right and never look back. Here is my experience with this checklist.

1. Start Each Morning Out With A Simple “Good Morning”

Mavenlink points out the power of this simple beginning to the day. You are in charge of pushing your team to the highest performance level. Senior management will fill your email box with metrics before the coffee finishes brewing. Don’t rush into these demands, there’ll be plenty of time for that later. Drink your coffee and greet your team without mentioning work.

2. Listen

Mavenlink reminds us of the power of active listening. Buddhism refers to the practice of deep listening. Put down the phone or laptop and make eye contact. Listen to what they’re saying without thinking about your response.

3. Address Your Department’s Missions, Goals, Processes, and Procedures

Know your department’s mission. Use this to build your own team mission. Incorporate both goals and mission into your communications. Keep the team involved in the progress daily, weekly, and monthly. Steal from elementary school teachers and build a visual display of your goals and the team’s progress. As Mavenlink suggests, measurable goals support teamwork.

4. Hold Team Meetings So That Communication Is Freely Flowing

Carve out time each week for the team to be in the same room. Go in with an agenda and let the team take ownership of projects. Let the team members ask questions and find answers. Here Mavenlink reminds us that these meetings need to end with clear cut action plans.

5. Set Expectations, Roles & Responsibilities From The Beginning

Meet with each team member and discuss the mission and goals. Help them take ownership of their piece of the pie. Mavenlink asserts the power of a sense of purpose. This will build loyalty and create enthusiasm.

6. Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Take time to celebrate success. Corporate culture too often wanders into negativity, keeping people very too focused on their failures. One of my favorites is Mavenlink’s suggestion to use handwritten cards. I will never forget the expression on an employee’s face when I gave them a handwritten thank you card. And not just for the big things, notice the little things too.  

7. Lead By Example

You own the culture. Mavenlink’s charges us to make decisions confidently. Live the values that earned you this position.

8. Smile

Nothing undermines team success like poor morale. As Mavenlink points out, happiness and enthusiasm are contagious. Negativity is a weed in your vegetable garden and a smile on your face is a weed killer.

9. Don’t Lead by Fear or Create an Environment of  Anxiety

Mavenlink’s warning about scare tactics is accurate. You might see short term gains, but people don’t learn from punishment. Use positive reinforcement to correct people. Teach people skills and be forgiving if they don’t get it right away. 

10. Do Not Look at People Merely As a Number

Everything in a manager’s life is a number. The paradox is that you can’t manage to the number. Mavenlink urges us to create meaningful growth plans. If you take the right approach, you will see the numbers.

11.  Be Humble. Be Grateful.

The title doesn’t make you perfect. Acknowledge your shortcomings, appreciate your team’s feedback. There’s tremendous power in answering a question with “I don’t know”. Mavenlink adds that we should acknowledge the strengths of other people.

12. Ditch The Ego & Unnecessary Politics

Leave your ego at home. Let your work stand as the testament to your skill. Don’t look to others for validation. Avoid drama at all costs, keep the focus on the goal and the mission. Mavenlink points out that doing this will make you happier.

13. Nurture Growth

Mavenlink reminds us that boredom hurts performance. A mentor explained to me once that a truly successful manager creates other managers. Encourage your associates to push themselves. Create opportunities for leadership roles. Give them a chance to provide recommendations. 

14. Promote Education

Mavenlink urges managers to create an atmosphere of wonder in your team. Keep your associates engaged in the latest innovations. Uncover opportunities for them to learn. This is a feedback loop, and their learning will keep you at the top of your game.

15. Adopt A Work/Life Balance Philosophy

Mavenlink knows that this reduces burnout. Our jobs sustain our lives outside of work. Respect your teams family time and you will have happier employees. In return, they will rise up when you need the time out of the office.

16. Be Respectful

We spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with our co-workers. Make the time together as positive as possible. As Mavenlink points out, this includes peoples time. Don’t expect people to get everything done now, prioritize tasks and clarify timelines. Trust trickles down – how you treat your employees is how they will treat customers.

17. Ask Questions

Here, Mavenlink acknowledges the importance of constructive communication. In conversation with associates, keep your talking to a minimum. Ask them about the mission and let them answer. Let them tell you about how they are doing in attaining their goal. This reinforces ownership and nurtures accountability.

18. Keep Your Door Open

Mavenlink says that, that is the power of your visibility. Success is a two-way street. If I want my people receive my feedback, I must encourage them to provide me feedback. Post your schedule, communicate when and why you have to close your door – “Conference call, I’ll be available in an hour”.  

19. Get Your Hands Dirty

Mavenlink refers to genchi genbutsu, the Toyota system of productivity. Good managers are not afraid to get in the middle of the work. This is a difficult balancing act. Your excellent work earned you your promotion. Learn how to show your team that you know how to do the job without doing it for them. Don’t be afraid to wade into difficult situations and help them find a way out.

20. Be Real

Mavenlink wants you to know the importance of laying it all on the line. You’re responsible for the success of the company and the careers of your associates. Clearly, communicate expectations and measures of success. Do not shy away from accountability.

21. Stay Focused

We ask our team to accomplish a week’s worth of work in one day. Mobile phones and laptops make this unreal expectation approachable. Don’t forget they are tools. Mavenlink sums it up with a reminder to take time for strategy and planning. 

22. Stay Calm, Cool and Collected

Mavenlink talks about the importance of your emotional state. You’re your team’s emotional anchor. No matter the situation, remain unflappable.

23. Don’t Replace Email With Social Interaction

Read Ernest Hemingway’s philosophy on writing. Communication with your team should be direct and simple. Business buzzwords are great for reports, but pointless when communicating with your team. Use your calendar and schedule time to meet with everyone on your team each day. Again, Mavenlink reminds us, don’t hide in your office. 

25. Know What Motivates Them

If you want your team to work achieve greatness, they must buy what you are selling. It might seem surprising, but not everyone works for money. Find out what motivates them to come to work. As Mavenlink puts it, get to know the engine that drives your people.

26. Don’t Micromanage

Mavenlink uses 2 words here – delegate and trust. If you expect your team to trust you, you must trust them. Trust people to do their jobs. You manage too many people, and not enough time, to stand over their shoulder and monitor their work.

27. Let Them Be Brilliant

Just because it worked for you, doesn’t mean it will work for them. Create space for them to explore new technology and ideas. Encourage them to create new methods and procedures. As Mavenlink puts it, create the freedom for people to be brilliant.

28. Be Transparent

What happens when senior management visits your team? Every team member must know the goal and the team’s progress. Quiz them about the things they should know and give them what they need to fill in the gaps. Mavenlink suggests that the managers job is to support the sharing of knowledge.

29. Host Team Building Events

Cultivate a team culture. Create opportunities for team members to become invested in each other. Plan an in office party. Hold a meeting on the grass out front. Mavenlink reminisces about meetings at coffee shops. You don’t need to go zip lining through the mountains to encourage this in-it-together feeling.

30. Get To Know Your Associates

One of my management classes called this “Win the Heart”. Learn who your employees are – as people. Learn about their families, their successes outside work, their hobbies. Acknowledge milestones – birthdays, weddings, etc. Attend funerals, give wedding gifts. 

Good luck! Managing a team is a rewarding experience. Take the time now to build good habits and reap the rewards. 

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith is a life long writer with over 20 years' experience in the corporate sector. He now writes about project management software.

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