10 Ways to Become a Better Manager

Want to win Manager of the Year accolades at your firm? Read this.

The difference between a leading law firm and a lagging one often boils down to one thing: management.

Good managers create a firm culture of success. They attract and keep top talent. They get the most out of their team.

Do you consider yourself a good manager? Is managing your law office something you like to do?

If the answer to those questions is “no,” “sort of” or “sometimes,” take heart: your skills can be improved. And you don’t have to get an MBA in management to do it. In fact, all it might require is to get in touch with your feelings.

“Technical skill mattered much less than you might guess,” says this article in Business Insider on what makes a great manager. “What was far more important for managers were emotional-intelligence skills, the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of their people.”

The Business Insider piece focuses on a research initiative that Google launched 10 years called Project Oxygen

“The goal? Figuring out what makes the perfect manager, so it could train its leaders to develop those behaviors. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen marked improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance.”

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10 Traits of a Great Manager
Here are ten characteristics of successful managers, courtesy of Business Insider and Google’s Project Oxygen:

  1. They are good coaches. “Rather than solve every problem as soon as it arises, the best managers use problems as teaching moments. They guide their teams and share insights when needed. This allows their team to gain valuable experience and grow.”
  2. They don’t micro-manage. “Great managers give their people the freedom they crave: freedom to explore their ideas, to take (smart) risks, and to make mistakes. They also provide the physical tools their people need and allow for flexible schedules and working environments.”
  3. They make everyone feel included and valuable. “Teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea. In other words, great teams thrive on trust — and great managers help build that trust.”
  4. They’re not afraid to roll up their sleeves and pitch in. “They do so by setting the right example and getting down and dirty whenever necessary. That motivates their team.”
  5. They’re good listeners. “This helps them to better understand their teams and show appropriate empathy. Good managers realize knowledge is power. That’s why they are transparent and willing to share information with their teams, so their people know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’”
  6. They support career development. “Great managers encourage their people by sharing sincere and specific praise. But they aren’t afraid to share critical feedback, too — making sure to frame it in a way that is both tactful and constructive. They also invest in their people by helping them reach their personal career goals. By doing so, they naturally motivate their teams to give back.”
  7. They have a clear vision for the firm. “They make sure each team member understands their individual role in executing that strategy.”
  8. They take the time to learn what everyone does. “Great managers understand the jobs of their people, including their everyday tasks and challenges.”
  9. They work well with others. “Bad managers view their team as a silo, working against or even sabotaging other teams within the same company. Great managers see the big picture. They work for the good of the company as a whole and encourage their teams to do the same.”
  10. They are good decision-makers. “Great managers aren’t impulsive, but they are decisive. After getting to know the facts and considering the thoughts and perspectives of their teams, they move things forward — even if that requires making a decision not everyone will approve of. Then, they commit to those decisions.

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