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Leading by Example: How Managers Set the Tone for Companies’ Cultures - Craig Middleton - Blog

Leading by Example: How Managers Set the Tone for Companies’ Cultures

The workplace has changed in the 21st century. In fact, it’s more accurate to describe it as ever-changing. From open floor plans to telecommuting, from steno-pools to in-office ping pong tables, companies are constantly trying to innovate to get the best performance out of their staff and to retain top employees. Even with all these changes, however, two constants remain. First, people want to feel respected and valued at work, and second, their managers are entirely responsible for that.


The Manager’s Role


Regardless of what the hottest company culture trends may be at any given time, a manager’s role stays fairly constant. A manager is a leader, supervisor, project coordinator, enforcer, and counselor. All those tasks can make for a full day, but if you distill it to one word, a manager is there for support.


For new managers, this may seem counter-intuitive. They likely rose to the management level by excelling at whatever their role in their business was, from sales to production. The skill sets that made them good at their jobs, however, may not necessarily be the skill sets needed to be a good manager. The god news is that while the skills that lead managers to management vary greatly by industry, the skills that great managers possess are universal.




While every manager needs to be able to assign tasks, train staff, and enforce corporate best practices, great managers help their employees complete their work and achieve their goals. They are charged with communicating expectations, and while that may seem cut and dry, poor communication is often listed as the biggest workplace challenge for employees to overcome.


The solution is simple. After communicating assignments, a successful manager must follow up with each relevant member of their team one-on-one and ask them if they have questions. If they do, they need to get them answers. Bear in mind that it’s not imperative to have the answer to every question immediately ready to go. You’re a manager, not an encyclopedia! If you don’t know the answer to a question, telling employees that you will find out and get back to them is perfectly acceptable if you do it and do it in a timely manner.


Beyond fielding relevant questions, managerial support also includes listening. Employees may need additional resources to complete their tasks. While you can’t always provide the everything they want or need, you owe it to them to hear them out. Even if you can’t solve their problem, they will appreciate a sympathetic ear.


Delegation with Accountability


Managers should also set a tone of accountability in their workplace’s culture. In order to effectively run a department or company, delegation is crucial. Managers must delegate confidently without sheepishly asking their employees to “do them a favor” or complete tasks “if they’re not too busy.” Remember that performing their assigned duties is their job, not a kindness they perform for their managers.


Of course, this cuts both ways. Delegation is the sorting and assignment of appropriate tasks. Unless everyone that works for you is a personal assistant, you shouldn’t be asking them to fill up your gas tank or pick up your dry cleaning. That said, you need to establish your standards for expectations and accountability. Many new managers “take back” assignments they have delegated if they feel employees are struggling or not moving forward with them. This is a dangerous road to go down. Make it clear that you are available to help, but they own the project.


Consistency and Encouragement


Great managers provide a sense of calm and stability by staying consistent with their communication and expectations. This is not to say there is no wiggle room for special circumstances, but that fairness is a priority across the board. Great managers contribute to the workplace culture by training employees and helping them grow, opening the doors to more responsibilities and better positions.


Employees take their cues from their managers, and a culture is created by the mood of its environment. Managers set the tone and must take that responsibility seriously.


Publish Date: February 19, 2020 7:35 PM

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