It takes an ample amount of time and dedication to grow into an effective student manager. As a student manager for the Campus Grinds cafes at The Ohio State University for 1-½ years, I have learned a good deal through trial and error about how to be a successful leader.
Here are three tips for how to be a more effective manager:
1. Humility is the key.
Something important to keep in mind as you manage your fellow employees is that you are not more important than them. While you may have the title of manager, you need to be able to work as a member of your team in order to help your business run smoothly.
Emily Clem, my fellow student manager at the Campus Grinds, has held her management position for 1-½ years and has found humility necessary.
"It's important to show that being a manager doesn't mean I think I'm better than [my employees] as a person," expressed Clem, "but rather I try to show that I'm willing to do everything that I ask them to do and even more."
Wright State student Andrew Angerer has been an assistant manager at Dorothy Lane Market in Centerville, Ohio since July 2011. Like Clem, Angerer understands the importance of humility.
"Leaders must be humble," said Angerer. "I've noticed that ego is usually the downfall of leaders or [potential] leaders."
Perhaps Kevin Johnson, a Wright State student who has worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Kettering, Ohio since 2008 and has been a manager since 2012, best sums up the importance of humility.
"It's important to not feel like you're above everyone. Obviously, you're looked up to as the leader when there's a problem," explains Johnson, "but you don't need to be overbearing or feel like you have to be constantly telling people what to do."
Strong managers will not count themselves above what may seem like menial tasks, but will instead embrace these tasks in order to show leadership to their teams.
2. The customer is #1.
While this rule may seem obvious, it is easy to get distracted by your day-to-day tasks and end up (even accidently) ignoring the customer completely. Remember to keep the customer the main focus of your shift and encourage your employees to do the same; taking out the trash or restocking items can wait until you have taken care of your paying customer.
"Don't allow the extra responsibility of management to distract [you] from the basics like meeting the needs of the customer," advises Clem.
In addition, provide the type of service to your customers that will make them want to return.
"The biggest thing is good customer service that will make the customer want to come back on a regular basis because they feel comfortable and at home when they come into your business," explains Johnson.
Keep your focus on the big picture rather than on smaller tasks.
3. Be "a leader first and a friend second."
As a student manager, it can be difficult to draw the line between manager and friend, especially if you are managing students around your age.
"While being friendly and patient with the [new workers] I try to ... create a more manager-like stance with them so I come off as a leader first and a friend second," says Angerer.
Though you may be concerned that forming relationships with your employees will mean a loss of respect for your authority, rest assured that such relationships as Angerer described can result in a stronger team atmosphere and thus a stronger business.
"One of my favorite parts of being a manager is getting to interact more with the students I work with," says Clem. "It gives me an opportunity to have conversations and develop relationships with [them]."
Johnson adds that "it's always nice to let people know that you care about them and that you're a good person to come to about anything."
Effective managers do not break the rules in order to make friends but instead maintain a friendly yet firm attitude that allows employees to feel comfortable.
In summary, while these are not the only things to keep in mind, these tips will help you get on the path to effective managing. Stay humble, trust your staff and embrace your responsibilities, and you will go far in the managing world.