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Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Right Trax Training Ltd

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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Why Can’t (some) Managers Manage?


It seems so simple; managers are there to manage. 

Then why is it that so many get it so wrong?

We all know that the impact of bad management is far reaching.  Every manager has the power to make their people angry, stressed and, as a new report from the CIPD* suggests, overwhelmingly disengaged.  The report indicates that dictatorial managers who shirk ownership, unduly pressurise their teams and get frantic about workloads stifle employees and suppress engagement.

So far, so unsurprising.  Yet why do we keep hearing this over and over again?  At least one of the answers is pretty simple.  If you are you a manager, were you given that well-known management rulebook ‘How to be a Brilliant Manager’ when you were promoted?  Of course not, no-one was – it hasn’t been written yet.  It’s not easy; there are a lot of plates to keep spinning and all-too-often little or no formal development is given.

All is not lost...there are some simple things to remember, and all of them begin with this:

Managing is about people

Working with people is about relationships

Relationships take time to build and to maintain

Commit to being a better manager in 2013.  Here are our top 5 tips to get started with:

  1. 1. Know your team

Arguably the single biggest tip; understand what makes your team tick both individually and collectively.  There is a lot to be said for having the emotional intelligence to tune in when they are feeling happy, challenged, motivated or angry, stressed, resentful.  Adapt and tailor your approach to suit people’s personal approach.  Sure, this may not always be possible, but 80-90% of the time is better than zero.

  1. 2. Give regular feedback (good AND bad)

We’ve all heard the old saying along the lines of ‘praise is the lowest costing incentive’, but clichés are clichés because they tend to be true.  Take time out of each day to recognise and thank people for their contributions and achievements; you don’t have to wait until your next scheduled time with them!  On the flip side, don’t shy away from giving bad feedback (replace ‘bad’ with your current word de jour...developmental, formative, etc).  Being a good manager is about facing up to the tough stuff and your team will respect you for having a fair and consistent approach.

  1. 3. Be imperfect

No-one likes a know-it-all.  Your people might not tell you upfront, but you’ll be the subject of office gossip if you’re the sort of manager who has an air of knowing everything about any given subject, or whose motto is “I told you so”.  We tend to respect managers and leaders who can put their hands up when they don’t know the answer or when they get it wrong rather than go around the houses and bluff their way through.  Be imperfect and it will encourage an open and honest culture.

  1. 4. Set the standard

It’s no good playing the ‘unprofessional’ card with someone one day and then be spotted yourself in a similarly unprofessional situation the next.  You need to make your standards clear to each person on the team and then role model these yourself.  Set clear boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable (this will differ depending on the environment and company culture), then ‘walk the walk’.

  1. 5. Learn, learn, then learn some more

The final tip is two-pronged.  As a manager you must support each person with their development (that’s ‘support’, you don’t have to do everything yourself and they should take ownership of their own development).  Equally important, and easier to forget, is your development.  Be a manager who is eager to learn more and improve whilst constantly challenge yourself and you will set an excellent benchmark for your team (see tip 4!).

Take time today to consider how you can be a better manager.  It’s never too late to make a delayed resolution for 2013...what will it be?

So there you have it, five quick and hopefully common sense tips for all you managers out there.  What are your top tips for being a good manager?  Tell us in the comments section.

Right Trax Training are a training, development and consultancy business who are passionate about helping other businesses be successful through their people and teams.  They can help your managers to be better too.  Get in touch at to find out how.

* Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development report: Managing for Sustainable Employee Engagement

Author Profile Picture
Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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