How to be a happy manager

With happiness levels translating directly into performance, it's never been more important for managers to look after their wellbeing, says ILM's David Pardey.

by David Pardey
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Keep a watchful eye on stress levels
A dash of stress is an important ingredient for the happy manager and their team, so try and work out where the optimum point is on your pressure gauge – and stay there. Whilst too much stress can be counter-productive, none at all can make you complacent, so think about your own performance under pressure and monitor how your team gets on in stressful situations.  

Beware the two year itch
Managers are happiest during the first two years spent at an organisation, but their performance and positivity drop off after this point. You can avoid the two year danger zone by seeking out new challenges, taking on new responsibilities, or expanding your team. This is also the optimum period to talk to your boss about where you’d like to progress to and how to get there – find out what training is available and think about how working with a coach or mentor might help advance your career.

Get on top of your workload
Heavy workloads shouldn’t have to result in unhappy managers. An important part of being a satisfied and successful manager is the ability to manage your tasks and handle stress, and that mountain of work becomes far less daunting if you have the skills to conquer it. Practical skills such as planning, organisation and time management will put you in a good position to deal with a challenging workload, whilst softer skills like goal-setting, delegation and motivation will allow you to reach your targets efficiently and effectively.

Think about your team’s happiness as much as your own
Happy teams result in happier, higher performing managers – in our research, managers who said their staff were happy were themselves much better off than those who thought the people they managed were miserable or ambivalent. Keep an eye on how your team are getting on and give them the opportunity to talk to you about how they are feeling – it’s in your interest as much as theirs.

Share the vision
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your company’s goals for the future, so that you know how the work you and you’re team are doing fits in to the bigger picture.  Where does your organisation see itself in five years’ time, and what role do you have to play in making this a reality? Even dull objectives become inspiring when they’re part of a compelling vision, and managers who know where their company is heading and can articulate its vision and values are far more likely to inspire their teams and feel motivated themselves.   

David Pardey is the head of research and policy at the Institute of Leadership & Management.

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