6 ways to be a good manager in today's tech-savvy workplace

Summary:So you got the big job and now you directly supervise a group of workers. It's a daunting task, but with these six approaches you'll be voted Manager of the Year in no time.

Workers

Before I was a blogger I was ingrained in the corporate work force for decades. Much of that time was spent in various management positions, overseeing forces ranging from small groups to over 250 employees. 

Managing groups of people is challenging, especially those comprised of heavily talented/educated workers. Over the years my management technique evolved to a point I felt was pretty good. The feedback from employers and those I managed indicated it was decent.

The workplace has become ever so complicated over the years, with employees getting more savvy about business and the tools used to conduct it. This is reflected in the rising trend of employees bringing their own devices to work, and using them to great advantage.

New managers often feel overwhelmed with the task at hand, directing savvy people to get the desired results. It's always been difficult to oversee workgroups, and that's especially true in today's complicated environment. These six principles will go a long way to making the manager's task much easier, and better for employees.

Communicate

Internal communication is the grease that keeps everything in a company working smoothly. Workers need to know what is going on, what the company expects to achieve, and most importantly the values that drive the business. 

We've all worked for managers who seldom talk to workers and know first-hand what a recipe for disaster that can be. Everyone ends up walking around in a fog, doing what they think they should but never really knowing for sure. It's a black hole for morale having no clear communication. Talk to your workers regularly and keep them informed and motivated.

Clearly state objectives

This falls under the communicate heading but is important enough to deserve separate attention. Most employees want to do a good job and meet all expectations but that requires they know exactly what those are.

Regularly talk to each employee and define in clear terms the 4 or 5 things you expect each to accomplish over the next few months. Make the objectives reasonable but don't be reluctant to assign a goal or two that requires good effort. Good workers want to push themselves so give them a clear reason to do so. Mediocrity doesn't appeal to either management or employees, so don't settle for it.

Be visible

Ever work for the manager you never see? It's hard to visualize a firm hand guiding things when your boss stays in his corner office all the time. Good managers make an effort to show the staff he/she is always around and on top of the operation.

The best way to stay visible is to frequently walk around the office, visiting each employee for a few minutes at least. Talk to the workers to see what they are working on, and give advice to make it go smoothly. They will appreciate it a great deal, and realize that you care not only about getting the job done but about them as an individual.

Public praise/ private critique

The best managers know how valuable it is when an employee goes the extra mile for the firm. They also realize that good work deserves acknowledgement outside the official appraisal process. Don't hesitate to give an attagirl/ attaboy to a worker at such times, and in front of his/her coworkers. They put in extra effort and deserve praise. Once they get it they not only will be anxious to do it again, so will the others who see deserved kudos being passed out.

On the flip side, it is inevitable that at times it will be necessary to tell a worker things need to improve. Always do that in private, never in front of others. Such admonition should be a motivator which is never the case when the employee is embarrassed in front of colleagues.

Encourage teamwork

The best departments/companies work together like the team they are. The first step in building teamwork is to do fun things as a group. This can be as simple as regularly throwing a group lunch, catered by a local restaurant.

Spending an hour together as a team, having a nice lunch together can go a long way to fomenting the team atmosphere. It's also a good time for the manager to hang out with the entire team, practicing these 6 steps in public.

Understand the workers' technical needs

The workplace of today is more involved in technology than ever before, and employees use an assortment of tools to get the job done. The best managers understand the technology well enough to evaluate if the staff has what they need to meet objectives.

If they don't, go to bat for them to get things changed. If BYOD makes sense, fight for it. If not, find other ways to provide the technology that will make the most difference for the least cost. Workers will notice this and understand you care about them and are getting them the best tools.

Boss of the Year

Faithfully practicing these 6 concepts can go a long way to turning your staff from mere workers to team players. They create a pleasant atmosphere for work, and amazing things regularly happen when people love to come to work.

The key is to be consistent in this effort. Your employees deserve to work for a boss for whom they have no question about his/her dedication to them or to the job at hand. They will know you are there for them, and they will likewise be there for you.

Topics: Enterprise 2.0

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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