How to Be an Exceptional Manager

By offering your team members just a few simple things, you can make a tremendous difference in both their productivity and attitude. This will lead to a more engaged employee. And engaged employees (happily) get (more) things done.

Set Clear Expectations

Let people know what you want them to do and what success looks like. How will they be measured? Use specifics and be clear about deadlines (or negotiate with them on a reasonable deadline).

Provide the Necessary Resources

Whether it be time, tools, or training, be sure your team has everything they need to successfully complete their assignments. If you don’t specifically provide the resources, be sure to let them know where those resources are so your people can acquire them on their own. If a project fails because of a lack of resources, it’s your fault.

Check Progress

If people are truly moving on their assignments, they’ll be able to discuss specifics on progress. Checking progress shows that the assignment is truly important to both the team and the organization. Don’t allow vague responses such as, “Oh, yeah, that’s moving along nicely and we’re making great progress.” Ask for specifics and offer advice on removing roadblocks (may involve additional resources).

Provide Feedback

As you check progress you’ll see areas that may need revision and/or a change in direction. Let employees know what you like and what can be improved. Don’t go light on the former. Meaningful, specific positive feedback can go a long way in inspiring people.

Evaluate Success

Hold people accountable to achieving what you’ve asked them to. Let them know how they could have done better and, more importantly, let them know what worked out well. Reward success appropriately.

Extra Credit

If you would follow the above advice, you’d be an exceptional manager. Want to be even better? Try these tips:

  • Understand What Motivates. Each person has different drivers. Some are driven by career titles, some are driven by praise (public or private), some are driven by money, and others are simply grateful for the opportunity to do what they love (rare). Understanding where each employee is coming from will allow you more effective ways to motivate and inspire.
  • Understand Interests. Get to know what your people are interested in and give them as many opportunities as possible to explore those interests in their work. Interest leads to a natural desire to learn, which leads to expertise and, eventually, passion. When people get good at something in which they have a true interest, they become more engaged. And we know that engaged people are, in general, happy and productive.

By the way, it could be that you will want to help people find a different position that is more in line with their interests – and this won’t always be within your group or even organization.


There you have it, a number of ways to be an exceptional manager. It may sound simple, but there’s a reason this type of manager is exceptional – s/he stands out amongst the sea of those who practice little, if any, of the above.

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