6 Indicators of a Great Manager
We all talk about the impact that strong leaders have on successful businesses and ways in which you can become a great manager. Many corporations spend exorbitant amounts of money sending their top leadership to seminars, educational programs, and other training interventions to become better leaders. However, what about managers, the people who directly interact with your frontline employees every day? These are the individuals who you empower to lead the charge in reaching your business goals. Managers are often promoted because they did a great job as an individual contributor, not because they are great leaders of other people. This is one of the biggest reasons top employees are leaving organizations: they have a dysfunctional relationship with their manager. Why? Because the manager was not equipped to engage, motivate, coach, or inspire them.
A key problem with managers in today’s businesses is they are not properly trained to lead people – they are good at the business tactics like product development, marketing, or supply chain management. However, they are not adequately prepared to lead individuals or teams who desperately need their guidance and direction to be the best they can be and achieve key goals. It takes someone who can coach and inspire individuals to really lead them to success and move the needle for a business. Why, then, don’t we put more of a focus on teaching these managers how to coach their employees and teams?
I never really thought about bad managers until I had a few of them in my early corporate career. There was no interest in my future, my growth, or in trying to connect with me. Even worse, my early managers failed to connect my efforts to the results of our team and the business. I had one manager who came into my office one day and gave me a bonus check. He handed it to me without explanation. When I opened the check, I didn’t know if I should be excited for doing a good job or upset because I had not reached goals. I literally had no idea what the check was for, how I had earned it, or if the amount of my bonus was one to be proud or ashamed.
Many good employees experience the unfortunate employee/manager relationship of the old “yell and tell” method of managing – do what I say so I can check it off my list of things to do. Modern-day workplaces do not thrive on these antiquated principles – today’s employees want managers to look at them as not just workers, but as whole people with lives, knowledge, and experience that go beyond the halls of their workplace. A manager must really look at their employees from a holistic perspective to effectively engage them. Managers must learn how to coach their employees and connect their work to the goals of their company.
Today’s employees want managers to look at them as not just workers, but as whole people with lives, knowledge, and experience that go beyond the halls of their workplace.
A 2011 study by Bersin & Associates (“High-Impact Performance Management”) showed that 70 percent of organizations claim they coach their employees, but admit that many managers lack coaching skills. In addition, the study says that only 11 percent of senior leaders actively coach others. Those who do are three times more effective at producing results. (If senior leaders aren’t role-model coaching, it’s likely that managers down the line aren’t either.)
What Does a Great Manager Do?
1. A Great Manager doesn’t yell and tell.
They engage employees in genuine conversations, tapping into their passions, knowledge, and experience.
2. A Great Manager knows to ask Powerful Questions.
This is the primary difference between a manager and Great Manager.
3. A Great Manager is an active listener, offers observations, and enables shifts in beliefs, actions, and behaviors.
They do this so employees can discover their own solutions, challenges, and opportunities.
A manager must really look at their employees from a holistic perspective to effectively engage them. Managers must learn how to coach their employees and connect their work to the goals of their company.
4. A Great Manager values and harnesses employees’ experiences from both inside and outside of the workplace, viewing them as “whole people.”
These are the tools that a Great Manager uses to help employees create and implement their own solutions.
5. A Great Manager engages employees in creating the solutions they’ll be asked to implement – as opposed to telling them.
This is essential and somewhat counter to commonly practiced management techniques. Employees are much more likely to implement and use solutions that they take part in crafting. If employees are expected to be accountable, make decisions, and be effective stewards of the business, they need to participate in the solutions that they’re responsible for carrying out. The job of a Great Manager is to involve, motivate, and coach employees through this process.
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6. A Great Manager ensures that the team has the necessary skills, capabilities, and tools for whatever challenges or opportunities the marketplace presents.
Frontline employees have their hands on the levers of change, and in many cases, directly on products, services, and customers. In order for a business to thrive, its employees must be quick to respond to the demands of a new and evolving marketplace.
In the future, a manager may not even hold the title of “manager.” Perhaps “coach” or “people developer” will be more appropriate. This new-and-improved approach will be rewarded with the greatest contribution an employee can give – their discretionary effort, serving a company with their head, heart, and mind.
Managers have the most influential role in business because they are most responsible for the success or failure of an organization – not the leadership team. Despite how critical managers are to business success, they remain the most under-invested segment. Tools like The Un-Bossy Boss or development programs that focus on the key skills managers need can start getting your managers working toward becoming great and keeping your employees happy and motivated.