A leader who knows how to be a good manager is invaluable to their organization. They keep their teams engaged, raise morale and increase profits. The effort it takes to be one of these top leaders is minimal, yet the payoff is great — for everyone. But before we can discuss what makes a good manager, we need a better understanding of why this matters.
In brief, bad managers suck all the well-being out of a room, leaving their teams gasping for mental relief and costing their employers dearly.
“It has become common practice to promote top contributors to supervisory roles, regardless of whether they have the competencies to perform that role,” says Mark Allen, Ph.D., Practitioner Lecturer of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.
Someone who’s the best at selling widgets isn’t necessarily the best person to manage the widget team — not without appropriate training. And even then, some people simply aren’t cut out for leadership but may accept a perceived promotion, even if they aren’t ready for it.
According to Allen, the impact is “…lost productivity, turnover of high performing employees, $190 billion in healthcare costs, and 120,000 annual deaths.”
Looking at that statement from the opposite angle, the impact of good managers is better productivity, lower turnover of high-performing employees, $190 billion saved yearly in healthcare costs, and 120,000 fewer deaths per year.
Fewer deaths should be reason enough to focus on being good bosses and supporting others who exhibit good manager qualities.
So, what makes a good manager? Here are the four top qualities. How does your team stack up?
Good managers are good coaches.
Something Google discovered when it focused on studying the qualities of their most effective managers. The art and gift of coaching is that a manager teaches another to do something instead of fixing problems. This provides rewards for the manager, who will avoid having to fix the same things for their employees repeatedly, and for the employee who will be empowered and will have another skill they can pass on.
And let’s not forget that coaching is most definitely not micromanaging. Good coaching should negate the need for micromanagement.
Coaching is also part of career growth and development. A manager who patiently coaches is wisely investing in the careers of their team.
Good managers trust their people.
Good managers provide the tools and resources needed to get the job done, and then they trust their employees to use their talents and creativity to deliver.
Mutual trust creates an atmosphere of respect.
According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study, trust is one of the top three things that contribute to job satisfaction. When employees trust their managers, they have greater trust in overall leadership and the organization’s strategy.
Good managers authentically connect with employees.
Good interpersonal relationships with management significantly impact both job satisfaction and life satisfaction, according to research from McKinsey.
A little kindness can be valuable. Employee satisfaction is positively correlated with several aspects of company performance, including shareholder value.
“The best managers open themselves up to others’ empathy and compassion and share their own emotions in response. Doing so will help maintain a leader’s emotional stability and build a close support network that is essential, especially during turbulent times,” said McKinsey researchers.
Good managers are good listeners.
You can’t have an authentic relationship unless you patiently listen, and good managers are experts at this.
“To be able to motivate your team, you need to understand them,” says Karlien Vanderheyden, a professor of leadership at Vlerick Business School, “know which tasks they enjoy and which they don’t, and take their input into account.
This kind of relationship can only be built if you truly listen to them. Not only this, but listening is a way to embrace fresh insight and ideas too.”
Leaders can enhance listening by leveraging brief but regular employee surveys that allow for the discovery of insights that can drive productive conversations about timely issues.
Coaching, trust, connecting with people, and listening, all traits of a good manager, can go a long way in improving business outcomes. Not the least of which is the retention of top talent. Remember, people don’t leave jobs, they leave their managers.
How has your team fared so far? Do they possess these four essential qualities of a good manager?
If not, all is not lost. People don’t always realize the impact they are having, and if they haven’t received proper management training, the blame is not entirely on them. And as you’re evaluating the effectiveness of your company’s managers, you don’t want to overlook the perceptions of their employees.
That’s why we’ve created the Leadership Perception Gap survey, designed to indicate where leaders are thriving (or struggling), and the accompanying ebook, The Seven C’s: Qualities Leaders Need for Post-Covid Success, a coaching tool that provides guidance and tools to improve leaders’ self-awareness and soft skills. A struggling manager who is willing to develop needed skills should be supported and given the opportunity to turn things around, and these tools can guide that endeavor, building individual self-awareness and helping your company’s leaders understand and improve their weaknesses.
In the end, good managers benefit everyone. The company gets a healthier bottom line, the workforce enjoys greater job satisfaction, and good managers get to be heroes.