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5 leadership lessons every manager must learn

by Jackson B

A managerial mindset doesn’t always come easy, but if you’re lucky enough to have secured a top position in your company, or even started your own, there are a couple of things you need to know. Here, Andrew Dark, Co-Founder and Director of Custom Planet shares five leadership lessons every manager must learn.

Working your way to the top of a company, or even setting up your own, is a huge career achievement for anybody. But with the added responsibility comes some extra lessons you need to learn to succeed in the position. 

Whether you’ve newly become a manager or have found your management technique isn’t going quite to plan, there are always new things to consider to strike the right balance between being a great manager and someone staff see as empathetic and trustworthy. Here, I’ll be sharing five of the most important leadership lessons you’ll need to learn when taking on this role. 

Don’t take the “friendship approach” too far

It’s human nature to want to be liked, and although the workplace is a more professional environment, these desires can also spread internally. While it’s never a bad thing to come across as approachable, friendly, and up for a laugh with your colleagues, forcing a friend narrative instead of establishing a managerial position can be detrimental. This is because it can cause awkwardness when it comes to serious conversations about performance, effort, hours undertaken, and others. 

Failing to assert some authority over staff can mean some members may give them an undue sense of power as you’re seen more as a friend. This in turn can slow down productivity and be damaging to profits and the overall running of the business. 

If you’ve found yourself making this mistake, it’s best to shift this relationship to a much more professional one sooner rather than later. It’s still important to keep your employees happy, however this responsibility also lies with them and professionalism must come first in all instances. 

Give one person responsibility for disciplinary actions

Some of the toughest decisions I’ve personally had to make are always the ones that involve staff, as often you get very close to people you work with and letting them go can be painful for both parties. My best advice on this matter would be to just remember that you’re not in business to make friends. While it helps to create a nice environment for everyone to work in, when someone threatens it, they are putting everyone else’s livelihood in jeopardy. 

In cases where trying to establish a professional relationship with your workers doesn’t work, a firm but fair approach is always best. To avoid tension and protect the good atmosphere you hopefully have in the rest of the company, having a designated person in the business responsible for disciplinary situations will help. In bigger companies, this might be the responsibility of a HR department.

This means you’re able to create a separation between the disruptive person and certain departments and employees to avoid awkwardness. 

Consider how each individual is motivated

Although money is always useful, it can only motivate people for so long until they get used to it. If there’s no longer a ‘next step’ for them to take at that point to move higher, you can be left with staff who are demotivated. So, it’s important that you recognise that different people are motivated by things outside of financial incentives. 

The main one for us at Custom Planet is creating a great working environment by talking less and listening more. We are all different and have great ideas and creating an open culture where your staff feel encouraged and able to share what they think will be very beneficial.

By listening to suggestions being made, you can identify ways to improve aspects of your business quicker than you might have if you just relied on your own intuition. So make sure you show that you’re listening by acting on what your staff is saying to you, and be sure to credit them for any ideas you put into motion to gain their trust. If people enjoy their workplace and feel like they’re a valued member of the team, they will inevitably be motivated. 

Celebrate staff, not ideas

When someone comes up with a great idea, it can be easy to get carried away and place all the value on that idea. However, you can often neglect to praise and reward the staff member who came up with the idea, and the rest of the company who helped to execute it efficiently and effectively. 

The pandemic has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for adequately celebrating staff with things they can go out and enjoy, but previously we would often have company nights out where the business paid for everything. We also like to buy things that would be good for boosting morale in the office and factory spaces, such as mini fridges next to workstations and a table football for some recreational fun. 

You must care about how all of your employees feel. The more wanted and appreciated they feel, the more they will be willing to put in for you. 

Don’t neglect those always performing at a high level

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of forgetting to praise people for doing a good job, especially if they are always performing highly. Many leaders can get used to it and think that’s just their standard level of work, without taking a step back and thinking about what they are actually contributing. 

It’s extremely important that staff feel noticed and appreciated, so ensure you make a point of saying this to them and thank them for their efforts often. It may sound simple, but it’s absolutely key to boosting and maintaining morale. 

Being in a leadership role isn’t always straightforward, but by taking these five tips on board, you can make sure you’re learning the basic lessons you’ll need to succeed in the role. 

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