Good Line Manager

How to Be a Good Line Manager

Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland
October 5, 2023
6 min read

A good line manager can take a team to whole new heights. As the person tasked with helping employees manage both their day-to-day concerns and their long-term career goals, you’re in a unique position to contribute to your organisation – so how do you make sure you’re nailing it? 

Here are a few of the things you need to know if you want to manage your teams as effectively as possible. 

The Role of a Line Manager

Line managers, also often called team leaders or supervisors, are people who lead teams or departments. They can be found in all kinds of industries and are responsible for managing their employees as well as managing team workload

This can be anything from creating great onboarding experiences for new hires to helping long-standing employees improve their self-management skills. They will typically report back to a senior manager. 

Unlike project managers, who are expected to oversee specific projects, line managers oversee teams throughout their entire time in the position. In some organisations, line managers may also be assigned as project managers for various assignments. Likewise, line managers can be leaders too, but leadership and management aren’t the same thing

What Are the Responsibilities of a Line Manager?

Line managers are typically directly responsible for overseeing the development and performance of the employees in their team. This can include things like:

  • Recruiting, onboarding and training new employees
  • Managing disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • Delegating workloads and ensuring work is fairly distributed
  • Organising training and development opportunities
  • Offering mentorship or coaching in the workplace 
  • Setting KPIs, giving appraisals and offering constructive feedback
  • Measuring individual and team metrics and aligning with the organisation
  • Reporting team performance and productivity to management teams

What Are the Benefits of Having Line Managers?

Line managers ensure that employees are taken care of while also bearing in mind the overall objectives of the business. They’re essential for creating a good and well-functioning workplace.

Line managers deal with employees daily and help them navigate everything from practical day-to-day necessities, like dealing with return-to-work interviews after illness, to developing employee line manager skills and training. 

Why is it So Important to Be an Effective Line Manager?

For many employees, their line manager is their main point of contact with the organisation. It’s who they look to if they have any problems and the person they rely on to help them understand what is expected from them. When line managers are ineffective, employees can become confused, withdrawn or disengaged. 

Gallup found that managers are responsible for a 70% variance in employee engagement, which just goes to show how big a difference a good line manager can make. 

Essential Skills of a Good Line Manager

There are several different management styles, all of which have their pros and cons, but when it comes to being a good line manager there are some core skills it’s useful to develop. These include:

The ability to be clear about your expectations

When you can lay out your goals and expectations clearly and competently, you offer your employees a reliable framework and eliminate confusion. 

Offering your team clear and concise instructions 

Good communication is essential in all lines of business but it is especially important when it comes to sharing instructions with your team. 

Resisting the urge to micromanage

This is a pitfall many new line managers fall into. However, trying to ensure that jobs are done by meddling offers employees no space to grow or prove their abilities. 

Providing regular feedback and support

You should be both a source of support and comfort and the person an employee can rely on to give them constructive criticism and feedback

Encouraging teamwork and collaboration

You want your team to be able to work together and achieve goals collaboratively, so be sure to share that message and encourage team bonding. 

Being a good listener 

As well as being able to communicate effectively, you need to be able to listen. Active listening can help you understand where your employees are coming from. 

Showing appreciation

Recognising and rewarding the effort your employees put into achieving their goals or hitting targets is a great way to make sure they stay engaged and motivated. 

Being fair and consistent

One of the things employees need most from their managers is consistency. Don’t let something slide one day only to be angry about it the next. 

Leading by example

The best line managers understand that there’s no point in asking people to wholeheartedly accept an organisation’s aims and goals unless they’re willing to do so as well. 

Having a sense of humour

If there’s one thing we can guarantee, it’s that management isn’t always plain sailing. Having a sense of humour will help you and your employees ride the waves together. 

Being willing to learn from mistakes

Being humble and knowing when to admit to your own mistakes or lack of knowledge is a superpower all managers should employ!

Being yourself 

The best line managers work on the kind of skills that can help their employees feel respected and valued while also staying true to their own personalities. Authenticity is always the winner. 

Best Books on Effective Line Management 

If you’re looking to do some extra reading on the subject, you’ll be glad to know that there are lots of great resources available. Some of the best books on effective line management are:

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How to Be a Good Line Manager: Key Takeaways

  • Line managers, also known as team leaders or supervisors, lead teams or departments, manage employees and oversee team workload.
  • Responsibilities of line managers include recruiting, onboarding, training new employees, managing disciplinary procedures, delegating workloads, organizing training opportunities, offering mentorship, setting KPIs, and reporting team performance to management.
  • Effective line managers are crucial for maintaining employee engagement, as they serve as the main point of contact for employees, contribute to workplace culture, and significantly impact employee engagement levels. They should possess essential skills such as clear communication, providing feedback, encouraging teamwork, being fair and consistent and leading by example.

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