I’ve been talking a fair bit of smack on managers, and this post is a continuation. Just kidding, it’s actually a mash-up of traits of strong managers so we can follow suit.
Good managers are truly hard to find, and it’s really important to find them. That Gallup study states that a manager effects engagement 70% (positively, or negatively). So why has it become so difficult to hire strong managers? It appears that management is a skillset that regularly is given to those who have been around the longest, and not necessarily the best-suited for management.
So, what makes a strong manager?
- Hiring Talent – a strong manager looks for the right fit for the company, culture and role. They’re honest and specific about what the role entails and find people who can fulfill it effectively.
- Focus on Performance – documenting strong (and poor performance) with clear, constant, consistent and actionable feedback. They are quick to respond to performance issues and set clear expectations for their team.
- Career Development – the best managers are aware that employees move around. By creating an open line of communication, and showing interest, managers can connect with their employees to ensure they’re being offered the type of work that will further their career and keep them engaged in the current work.
- Conflict Resolution – a manager is also a mentor and mediator. When there is conflict amongst the team, don’t ignore it. Face the conflict head on and attempt to find a resolution that is convenient to all parties.
- Personalized Motivation – by understanding each team member’s drive, the strongest manager can tailor the way they engage their team. They can also create action plans that are accommodating to different working styles and needs.
- Mentoring – with all that knowledge, it makes sense that a manager should be able to offer advice and a unique perspective in trying moments. Their employees should understand that their manager has their best interests at heart, and will attempt to guide them to find their own conclusions.
- Responsive, Not Reactive – a manager needs to be able to make quick decisions, and explain them. By taking the time to consider and communicate all of the consequences of a decision, the team will understand and embody those choices. Acting as a source of calm, and avoiding team overload encourages the collective to trust that their manager is in it for them. Their choices are based on productivity and the team, rather than politics.
- Clear Management – we’ve said this a couple ways above, but basically, the best managers make it clear what is expected of everyone. They are also honest and transparent about what’s happening inside the company. In addition, a manager makes it clear that they are, in fact, your manager. This encourages the team to reach out to them with questions or issues.
It’s a lot, isn’t it? Also, realize that you have to be able to do all of this plus your full-time job. I think the key takeaways I get from this is:
- A) The best managers care about their team and the team’s success as much (or more) than their own
- B) The best companies hunt for great managers, and give them the tools (and time) to be great managers