7 Essential management behaviours

The most common reason for leaving a job is dissatisfaction with the manager.

If you’re a manager, what kind of manager are you? The kind who makes employees look for a job elsewhere? Probably not. In fact, you’d almost certainly want to be the exact opposite.

The difference is one of behaviour.

If, as a manager, you’re aiming for staff retention, a satisfied, motivated team, and business success you need to carry out your role in a way likely to achieve that.

So, what are the ideal manager behaviours if you want to get the most out of your team.

Here are 7 fundamentals…

  1. Know the difference between management and leadership

They’re not the same, and both are necessary (though in what proportions definitely depends on your specific role and responsibilities in your organization). When your team need managerial attention and guidance, no amount of visionary leadership will do the job. Likewise, a close focus on team goals and metrics won’t serve when they need a clear idea of the organization’s direction.

  1. Be the manager, not ‘one of the gang’

Yes, you’re part of the team, but your role is different. Not only do you represent the team to higher management, you also represent higher management to the team. Not to say you can’t be friends, just that the role you’re being paid for is ‘manager’. You can be friendly and likable as a manager but you can’t be partial, not within the team, not within the organisation.

  1. Manage performance effectively, on a daily basis

Performance management is a large part of your role and it cannot be a once or twice a year thing. The team need to always be clear on the standards they’re required to meet, and whether they’re meeting them.

  1. Give effective and motivational feedback

Yes, team members need to know how they’re doing, but the key to conveying that message (messages!) is to do it in such a way that the person a) clearly understands the feedback, b) accepts the feedback, and c) will act on the feedback. Your inner voice might be yelling, “No, that’s wrong!!!” but your managerial voice needs to express itself in a more sophisticated (and respectful) fashion.

  1. Set clear objectives

As already mentioned, part of performance management is clarity on standards and expectations. That clarity comes from detail and structure and although useful variations exist, SMART objectives are still the widely-accepted template. Your team’s objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. If you’re not ticking all five of those boxes, you’re not being clear.

  1. Be flexible in your approach

There are many ways to successfully manage, and you’ll have your favourite(s), usually in line with your natural personality and preferences. However, your preferences won’t always match the individual preferences within the team. As with any form of communication (and what is management if not an elaborate and prolonged form of communication?) you need to consider the audience and shift your approach to get the best from each team member.

  1. Delegate

Delegating to the team is not only a way of ‘getting the job done’, it’s also one of your key tools to develop your team members, growing their skills, capacity and confidence (not to mention preparing them for management if that’s where their ambitions lie). But it’s all in how you do it. Poor managers dump their responsibilities on their team for an easier life. Good managers match the task being delegated to the individual and then support them to achieve a positive outcome.

Are there just 7 essential management behaviours? Of course not. But embed these as general principles in your management practice and you’ll have a solid foundation to build on. You’re also unlikely to be ‘that’ manager, the one that drives their team to the job ads.


If you’re interested in developed any or all of the above management behaviours further, Maximum Performance offer off-the-shelf or tailored learning packages on all of them. We also offer a one-day Management Essentials workshop that focuses on all of them to help you get the most out of your team by giving clear direction, and coaching, cheerleading and delegating effectively. The next open event is on 13 July 2022 in London – book now to avoid disappointment.

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