Manager or Mate? 6 top tips on how to be a great manager


ANS culture

There’s being a manager and then there’s being a great manager. At ANS, we like to employ the latter and a perfect example of that is our Service Delivery Manager, Melissa Johnson. After placing 27th in The Sunday Times Best Companies to work for 2019 and achieving a record engagement survey completion rate, we wanted to delve deeper into why our employees love to work at ANS and it turns out according to her team, Mel is a top class manager!

Our Service Delivery Team has gone through a huge transformation recently, led by Melissa, so here are Mel’s top tips on what a great manager does and what makes her team so successful…

Your team are your priority

During my manager training, I as told as a manager you should inspire your team, they should be inspired by how you work and what you do and therefore want to learn and develop from you.

The one piece of advice that resonated the most was “make your team your priority, you’re called a manager for a reason” and this is probably the most important thing you can do as someone’s manager/mentor.

This doesn’t always come naturally, I’m very lucky that I have such an amazing team to manage, but I will always make them my number one, no matter what.

Get to know your team personally

I know pretty much everything there is to know about the team. I know what’s going on with them at work each week, where their kids go to nursery, what they’re up to at the weekend, you name it.

I have 12 direct reports and have common ground with all of them, it doesn’t have to be work related, but it’s important to me that I know them all on a personal level and not just in a professional capacity.

Be relatable

I have a lot of empathy for the team. We all know that work can have a huge impact on our home life and finding that work-life balance isn’t easy. The reason why I take such an interest in their life outside of work is so that I can plan and anticipate the impact it will have on their work life. This way I can be fully supportive and adaptive when they need me to be.

When I returned from maternity leave, I dedicated my entire first month to the Service Delivery team. I caught up with each member of the team (offsite and individually) to check in with them. I could see I needed to get a structure in place and set some expectations which I think are the key to managing a successful team.

It’s all about mutual respect

This one almost goes without saying but it’s still really important. I can’t expect the team to respect me if I don’t have respect for them. I try to maintain a fairly open relationship, I pride myself on always being fair and 100% honest with them but if I need to be firm, my team will know about it. Finding the balance between manager and friend takes a while but I think now we have a good level of both in our team.

I can be really defensive of the team and rightly so – no one else knows them like I do. When things go wrong, I am never assumptive and will always talk through issues with the team before taking action. I believe in everything the team does and have complete faith they are working to the best of their ability. When they are happy, I am too.

I’m no micromanager, in fact, I’m the opposite because I have no need to be. I put a lot of trust in every single member of my team and we get to reap the rewards together – a strong team dynamic and great results.

Take the time

Making time for your team is possibly the one thing they will appreciate the most. And it’s as simple as always answering the phone to them. Making time for your team will make them feel like a valued member, because they are.

We are all super busy and I know how frustrating it can be when trying to get hold of someone more senior within the business, but my guys will always come first. I’m responsible for our Service Delivery but I know that if I look after my team, they will look after our customers.

1-2-1’s are vital

My team don’t wait for their 1-2-1’s to bring something up with me but that doesn’t mean our 1-2-1 meetings aren’t essential. I like to use these meetings to fully focus on evaluating each person’s goals and their progression so far. It’s also a chance to find out their highlights and lowlights of the last quarter.

I know all the little quirks of each individual within the team, so I know how to tailor each meeting. I believe you’re not close enough to your team if you don’t know what’s going on with them so nothing they raise in their 121 should be a surprise. To me, their 1-2-1 is 1-2 hours out of the quarter, but to them, that hour could define how the next quarter is going to play out so I make sure I never miss a 1-2-1.

If Mel sounds like the kind of manager you’d like to have, and you want to be a part of our team, there’s plenty more just like her at ANS! Check out our current opportunities here.

Posted by Kate Auchterlonie